It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for one of our Addiction Recovery Centers in Wisconsin. One ad racked up over 1 million views, 54,139 clicks, 61,729 reactions, 13,597 comments, and 7,095 shares. Talk about amazing! Check out the results below.
Oh, and guess how much we paid for all of that? Just $130!
Companies like Nike and Coca-cola can often only dream about those kinds of results, much less a local recovery provider. You’ll see below that that tiny dark orange section in the bar under her picture is the amount of paid traffic and everything in the huge light orange to the left is what we got for free.
This client has an intensive outpatient program and seven sober living homes, all of which we’ve already helped fill to capacity. So we’re mainly running awareness campaigns to keep their facilities full, but this one ad brought more interest than we’d ever seen.
We had potential clients calling and messaging from across the country – Ohio, Alabama, New Jersey, you name it. We even had the owner of a chain of addiction recovery centers from Tanzania reach out and ask for consulting from this center’s director to help build out their own program. Now those are some amazing results!
So how did we did we make it go viral?
The first thing to mention is that there is no bullet-proof formula to create a viral campaign. Everyone’s goal would be to have every one of their ad campaigns go viral, but even the best, most expensive treatment center advertising agencies in the world can’t make it happen on command.
However, there are things that you can do to increase your chances of making an ad campaign go viral and they were perfectly reflected in our techniques here. Even if a campaign doesn’t go viral, our techniques ensure it reaches maximum impact at the lowest cost. Let me walk you through the strategy we use here at Circle Social Inc.
Criteria 1: Audience Fit
The story has to be tied to your audience. This is the number one, most important factor.
This story we posted was about an amazing woman that had overcome her crack addiction to become incredibly successful. She contributed much of her success to finding her way to God. She was also African-American, which, as we’ll see, is very important here.
Now, if you look at the nearly 14,000 comments, you’ll see that the vast majority are from other African-Americans using religious language to celebrate her recovery and success.
This post spoke very powerfully to a specific group of people and it continued to be shared out over 7,000 times within that same niche.
This is what every treatment center needs to remember. You’re serving a specific community. You need to speak to the struggles and speak the language of that community. As this treatment center is just outside of Milwaukee, WI, which has a large African-American Christian population, it was a perfect fit.
Criteria 2: Testing and Strategic Use of Data
We have several metrics we use internally to determine whether or not a particular campaign is successful or should be shut down. Post engagement is one. Click through rates are another one.
This ad was ranking high in both categories, so we put more money behind it and increased the amount of time before the campaign would end.
Before this campaign, we had run dozens of others using a similar format. Most of them did well, but not this well, so we knew that this was a campaign worth investing more in.
By using evidence-based decision-making, we were able to give this campaign the fuel it needed to tip over and become viral.
Criteria 3: Social Proof and the Right Amount of Patience
To be truly successful, most campaigns need social proof.
The biggest mistake we see clients and other agencies make is that they shut down campaigns too soon. They say, “This campaign has a low conversion rate, so let’s shut it down and test a new one.”
But Facebook usually needs 7 days to truly optimize a particular campaign using its machine learning algorithms. After all, these algorithms need data to optimize. If you shut a campaign down before a statistically significant amount of data has been gathered, then you’re failing to make decisions based on optimal data sets.
What’s more, the ad doesn’t have time to gather social proof. Now, this ad in particular was performing well, but it wasn’t anything above and beyond some other campaigns we’ve run.
However, it reached a tipping point. In just about 2 week’s time, it had gathered enough social proof (likes, comments, shares, etc.) that people started to take notice and do the same.
We humans like to do what those around us are doing and we trust our friends’ judgement over some treatment center’s that we’ve never heard of.
If I see a friend of mine liked and shared a post, I am much more likely to like and share as well. If I see that over 7,000 people have already shared the post, I’m much much more likely to share it as well. That’s the power of social proofing.
Had we shut this ad down even a day earlier, it would have not reached that tipping point to spill over into virality. Before this post went viral, it only had 10,000 impressions and most of those were paid, so it wasn’t like there was a super strong indicator here the post was about to go viral.
Yet, by going viral, it racked up another 1,090,000 impressions in one week and didn’t cost our client a dime!
The very important lesson here is to be patient with your campaigns. Yes, track your metrics to see if the post is performing, but make sure you invest enough time and money for it to reach its potential. A socially proofed ad almost always brings significant results that are far above and beyond what you would predict before it had built up social proof.
Digital is Different
Digital marketing is very strategic work. The creative component is important, but it’s much more about understanding your audience, making content they love, and then using data and analytics to achieve success.
Back in the day (you know, like 10 years ago 🙂 ), it was more of a hope and pray approach. You simply couldn’t track what was working or how well a particular campaign was performing outside of some very loose estimates based on overall lead gen and sales data.
Nowadays, we know how many views we get, how many views lead to clicks, how many clicks lead to obtaining potential client contact information, and even how many of those leads convert into sales.
All of this allows us to be strategic in a way that makes it much more likely we’ll be able to push an ad to go viral. At the very least, it means we create better campaigns for much cheaper than radio, TV, or newspaper where there is zero trackability.
Are you a recovery or behavioral health provider looking for a team that cares both about your clients as well as your organization’s bottom-line? Oh, and did we mention we operate with a team fully trained on HIPAA compliant digital marketing? Then schedule an appointment with us by clicking the below link and let’s talk about how we can help fill your centers.
Also, we’d be amiss if we didn’t add our work in Facebook brings results at significantly reduced cost. Sick and tired of paying $80-$100 a click in Google Adwords (because that’s the norm these days in the recovery space), we’ll help you drive the client acquisition cost way down with clicks as low as $2. Just one more reason to see what we can do for you.