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How to Go Viral Without 40 Million Fans

Not everyone has the star power of Ellen DeGeneres, with millions of followers to make their tweet the most retweeted of all time. So, how do you capitalize on moments like the Oscars or political debates without 40 million fans? With three simple guidelines.

Be fast and timely

The key to creating viral Facebook content that’s sharable is rapid response. While others enjoy the Oscars or post simple text responses to political debates, be prepared to take key moments and transform them into visual Facebook content.

For example, at last year’s Oscars jumped on a speech by Oscar-winner, Jared Leto, in which he gave a nod to the HIV/AIDS community. In doing so, OurTime highlights two important points:

  • Millions of people aren’t just watching big moments like these, they simultaneously experience them through social media. By paying keen attention, it’s possible to create highly relevant and engaging Facebook content in real time for free. This content has huge potential to reach tons of supporters—and beyond.
  • Being timely and relevant doesn’t have to mean 30 people in a control room; one or two people can fill this role just as well.

Use the perfect photo

Images are the most engaging type of Facebook content: According to SocialBakers, photos received an 87% interaction rate! For comparison, no other post type received more than 4% interaction. While this high degree of interaction does not guarantee that a photo post will be viewed, it does highlight why getting the right photo is critical.

photos viral

While it would’ve been easier to use a random photo of Leto, the real money shot was Leto standing on stage with the Oscar. Don’t count on Google’s image search having the best graphic. It’s best to check Google “news” to find photos that haven’t been crawled by the image search yet.


actionAsk for Action

Pair your timely image with a social action, such as signing a petition. Actions like these tend to perform really well, reaching and engaging a greater number of people. If you’re able to take advantage of a high profile moment that relates to your cause, create an action that transfers engagement into action. For content to be given the opportunity to become viral, create timely content that people want to be connected with. Get started now by brainstorming potential moments that relate to your cause.


Drew Bernard Drew Bernard

Drew Bernard is the founder and CEO of Action Sprout a Facebook app that empowers nonprofits and political campaigns to engage supporters beyond like, share and comment Drew has been helping nonprofits build productive relationships with supporters online since the early 2000's. From 2001 to 2009 I helped create the online strategy program at the former nonprofit technology leader, Groundwire. Follow Drew on Twitter @drewbernard

Topics: Communications