Social media: Viral unicorns and left handers

Here’s the story of one of the most viral social media posts we’ve ever done for a brand.

The simple post and graphic we did for Left Handers Day on the Four Cousins brand page in 2015 and 2016 ended up making about 150 000 impressions. That is almost three times the total number of fans on the page, all with zero ad spend.

Left handers day is not one of the ‘special’ days that jump out at you as gold for social media engagement. It took a left hander on our staff, our content coordinator Louis, to see its potential and to suggest it as a post topic for the mass-market wine brand.

The brand persona Four Cousins has built up on Facebook and Twitter since 2010 is one of supportive and inclusive camaraderie. The social media messaging built on the true brand story, of four cousins taking the wine industry by storm to create the best-selling bottled wine in South Africa. YB built the social presence of the brand from the inception of the social media accounts until December of 2016, taking care to make it a place where all South Africans feel at home.

Finding the unicorn

We did not expect the left handers post to work wonders when we first put it out on 13 August 2015.

However, it immediately caught on with the audience. It reached more than 25 000 individuals without a cent of advertising spend behind it. The post made almost 50 000 impressions. It was hugely viral: For every impression from a fan of the page it made four impressions with non-fans.

A year later, we decided to see if lightning would strike twice. This time the reaction was even more astonishing.

Facebook post by YehBaby Digital Creatives for Four Cousins celebrating left handers day

The post reached almost 58 000 individuals, of which only 13 000 were fans of the page. With about 60 000 fans on the page, this meant that about 80% of the people who saw the post at least once were not fans of the page.

It went on to make 94 000 impressions, again 100% organically. In the “post-reachpocalypse” social media landscape we are living in, this was a true viral unicorn.

It was shared 482 times and got 276 reactions. Some people even tagged themselves or friends in the image, all without being asked to do so. And perhaps our favourite stat: although some people must have seen the post repeatedly, we got only six negative reactions.

What we learned

We’ve thought a lot about what made the magic happen. As best we can tell, here are some of the reasons people loved the post so much:

  • The post is on brand and meets the expectations fans have of the tone of the page. It struck home as a message from a brand that had spent years walking the talk of being the every-man’s friendly wine. The brand is positioned as part of the extended family. It had often demonstrated that it was there for fans when they reach out on Facebook and Twitter.
  • To an extent, it was pay-off for years of patient and strategic brand-building. That can make messages that could’ve been very trivial strike way closer to home.
  • It didn’t condescend or trivialize. No “Happy Left-handers day, folks!” The post managed to emphasize with differently abled people without “othering” them.
  • The post contained truth. Left handers could immediate relate to the picture of Louis’ ink-smudged hand resting by the message (also smudged) that he wrote to his fellow left handers. The look and presentation was low-fi and unglossy.
  • It illustrates what has become a content marketing mantra here at YB: Truth beats bullshit every time.