How we achieved one million Facebook engagements for a single blog

How we achieved one million Facebook engagements for a single blog

At Engage Web, we’ve been producing content for our clients for over 10 years. In that time we’ve written hundreds of thousands of blogs on a wide range of subjects. We’ve written about Pilates, stationery, concrete floor sanding, massaging, ballooning, property and more.

You name it, we’ve written blogs about it.

A common question

One question we often get asked by prospective clients is how can we write about their industry in a knowledgeable manner. That’s an easy one to answer. Unlike individual freelance writers, PR companies or small teams, we don’t have one person writing content about everything. We don’t ask our content team leader, John, to write about pillow cases one minute, and NASCAR the next. We use a wide network of writers and we match the writer to the client’s geographical location and their industry.

For example, we never use a UK-based writer for one of our American clients. We use an American writer. The spelling is different. The vernacular (turn of phrase) is different. The knowledge is different. If a UK writer attempts to write for a US client, you will most likely notice the difference – and certainly the client will.

At Engage Web, we write content for clients in many different countries, including Canada and Australia, and we always use a writer from that country.

Match writers with the client

Equally, we endeavour to match our writers’ experience and interests with the industry of the client. We have writers who are landlords, body builders, computer technicians and, unusually, we have even had a writer who worked at HMRC. That proved particularly useful for our accountant clients.

That’s why Engage Web has so successfully been providing content for the past decade both for our own clients, and for other digital marketing agencies and their clients.

Additionally, we always try to make our content engaging. The clue really is in our name. Over the years we have had content that has been shared and interacted with on social media thousands of times, and some have received tens of thousands of engagements. Recently we achieved our first 1,000,000 engagement piece on Facebook – at least, that we know of. Facebook doesn’t announce this or give you an award for it, you have to spot it yourself.

So what was this blog, how did we do it and why did it receive over one million engagements on Facebook?

The blog was a satirical post on a satire website. The first thing to take from that is that it was posted on a website, not on social media. This isn’t about Facebook, even though the engagements come on Facebook. The success has been earned through a blog posted onto a website. In order to achieve a successful viral post like this, it’s better (and certainly easier) if the original content exists on your website.

The reason for this is because your viral post may not come from your own share on Facebook, or Twitter. Your content could go viral weeks, months or even years after you have posted it. If it’s content posted on a website, you have a much better chance of this happening. Now, let’s look at what did happen.

The post

On April 10th, we published this satirical blog. When it was shared on Facebook and Twitter that day, it did very little in the way of reach, shares or engagement. As you can see from the Facebook Insights below, the original share of the post reached 5,416 people and generated 313 reactions.

This isn’t too bad, but is a long way from viral. It received 25 shares and 32 comments. Notice how only 10 comments were on the post, and 22 comments were on the shares? Facebook is ‘fairly’ good at showing you the reach of posts from the shares they receive as well.

What Facebook doesn’t show, however, is how many people shared this blog themselves – external from sharing our Facebook post. It ONLY shows stats from people who have shared our Facebook post, not the blog itself. This could lead you to believe that a post wasn’t that successful when, in fact, it had gone viral.

At this stage, however, ours had not gone viral. It was just a mildly successful blog that had reached nearly five and a half thousand people.

So why did it go viral?

This is why content is so great for promoting your business website. We could have left that post alone and never shared it again. It had been done. It reached an audience, it was over.

Only it wasn’t. Just because a piece of content doesn’t go viral one day, it doesn’t mean it won’t another day.

We reshared the content again four months later, on August 20th. This time the blog had a different result, as the Facebook Insights below demonstrate. Remember what we said about Insights only showing stats from direct shares of your post? The stats for this post show a lowly 1,867 people reached, yet 647,770 reactions. This doesn’t add up?

It shows 94,505 shares of the post – just shy of the 100,000 shares, yet the ‘actual post share’ on our page has a paltry eight comments. EIGHT? From nearly 100,000 shares?

As the stats show, that still doesn’t quite equate to 1,000,000. So where did the rest come from? As mentioned, these stats only show engagements from the specific share we have made of this post. They don’t cover all engagement throughout Facebook. For your post to truly go viral, it needs to be shared outside of the shares you have done yourself.

The ‘Information’ link on the post does show you how many times a link has been shared across Facebook’s platform. This blog, as the map below demonstrates, has been shared a total of 144,000 times – not the 94,505 shares the actual Facebook post we made has received.

This, of course, begs the question – if the link has been shared 144,000 times, and not 94,505 times, then just how many engagements has the link received across Facebook?

Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t actually give you this information in its Insights, you need to use an external source for this. Luckily, we recently wrote a blog about how you do just that. By using one of these techniques, we can see that our blog has actually received more than one million engagements across Facebook (even though the tools all say ‘shares’, they’re not ‘actually’ shares).

The actual total of engagements, at time of writing this, is 1,027,905 – so it’s still climbing. In fact, the final push to take it over the one million mark didn’t come from anything we did. In fact, it didn’t even come from Facebook originally. The blog was actually shared on Twitter by a couple of people who had 17,0000 and 35,000 followers each – such as this one:


Once these tweets were made, the blog received many other Twitter shares and this, naturally, spread to Facebook, starting the whole thing off again.

Once more, if you don’t have the source content on your website, you won’t get these natural shares happening. By having content on your own site, it’s there ready to be shared when the right person happens across it. Content is evergreen and can generate traffic, increase reach and promote your brand many times over for years to come.

We fully expect this particular blog to have additional periods of virility over the years as it gets found, shared and then reshared over and over again. Each share brings in new people exposed to the website, and to the social media channels. This brings in new followers, and new people to then share more content.

That’s viral marketing in a nutshell.

So why did the blog go viral in the first place?

That’s the million dollar (or million share) question. Why did the blog go viral? The blog was a satire piece, and satire needs to start with a premise. The premise for this particular post was simply: batteries in today’s phones are rubbish, batteries in older phones were much better.

That’s not a particularly funny concept, and writing a blog along those lines would not have worked. Instead you need to subvert the blog to exaggerate the point being made. By writing a fictitious news piece suggesting the battery from an old phone was still charged after 20 years, we hit two key elements:

1. It demonstrates the premise that old phone batteries were much better than new ones
2. It just ‘might’ actually be true, certainly enough so that some people may believe it

By then filling the post with quotes, a backstory, a named person with a job, a location and a suitable picture, you give the post credibility. Note the headline – the vast majority of people never click on links shared on social media, they just reshare them. The headline and image are far more important than the post itself.

As a final note, one thing you can also do to encourage engagement is to wind up the ‘actually’ brigade. What do we mean by that? We mean the sort of people who spot an error with something and feel compelled to comment telling you there’s an error, thus providing you with more engagement. This blog does that with the title, albeit accidentally. The headline says the phone was discovered after 20 years – yet the Nokia 3310 only came out 19 years ago. The ‘actually’ brigade took great pleasure in commenting that fact on every single share it received, thus increasing its reach even further.

So what have we learned from this experiment?

Learnings from this include:

• Social media can allow you to reach millions of people if your content is right
• Your blog is the best place for your content
• The headline is the single most important part of a blog
• Just because a blog doesn’t get shared when it first goes live, it doesn’t mean it won’t further down the road

We’ll report back when the link reaches 2,000,000 engagements on Facebook!

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.

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