Going viral

One of the definitions of “viral” – well, at least that pertains to what I’m about to write – is “quickly and widely spread or popularized especially by person-to-person electronic communication.” I hear about videos or photos “going viral” on “The Today Show” and referred to in casual conversation, but it’s always something that has happened to a friend-of-a-friend or on the news.

After the Route 91 shootings in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 my then-fiancé Ken, a woodworker by legacy and hobby, created 10 wooden plaques shaped like Nevada with a heart and Las Vegas skyline graphic engraved on them. His plan was to sell them for $25 each, creating a $250 donation to the Las Vegas Victims Fund set up by Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.

He posted it on Facebook on Oct. 3 at 5:33 p.m. By early the next morning, he directed people who were commenting on his post over to his Legacy Woodworking Etsy shop – he simply couldn’t keep track of all the comments to purchase one. The first 10 sold out quickly. By noon on Oct. 4, he had sold 300.

“Do we keep going?” he asked me. We decided to continue and figure it out.

By that evening, he finally shut off orders at 900. As of Oct. 30, there have been 2,700 reactions, 1,200 comments and 3,600 shares of his original post. It was the week of our wedding, and he had almost no time to figure out how to manage such a tall order.

Clients have mentioned wanting to “go viral” with a planned company post, whether it be a video or photo, but the truth is, you can’t plan it. Where 1,200 comments and 3,600 shares wouldn’t be considered viral for large companies such as McDonald’s or Coca-Cola or for television programs such as “The Today Show” or “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” but for a one-man hobbyist with an woodshop inherited from his father, this was huge.

And completely, totally, without a doubt directly out of left field. If it had been planned, we wouldn’t have done it the week leading up to our wedding.

The one thing I believe made Ken’s post popular was it was organic. If you remember the Chewbacca Mom from last spring, she simply took video of herself trying on a Chewbacca mask in her car. She hadn’t even left the store. It was for her pure enjoyment, and her YouTube video now has 9.9 million views.

Organic and unplanned.

The lesson is to live your company’s truth and portray that accurately on social media and good things will happen. People are watching.

Tiffannie Bond is the director of public relations during the day and works to help her now-husband fulfill the 450 orders he has yet to deliver. With hope and help from local woodworkers, engravers and friends, the project should be finished by Thanksgiving.

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