If Facebook had existed in 1994, TLC might have changed its tune. Turns out waterfalls are totally worth chasing.
Almost any picture of a waterfall that gets posted to the Hocking Hills Tourism Association’s Facebook page does well. A recent picture, in fact, did quite well initially. But to see it explode, well, there’s an art to that.
Here’s how we chased social marketing magic and caught it.
At 7:09 p.m. Sunday, March 13, we posted this picture to the Hocking Hills Tourism Association’s Facebook page with the caption: “What Hocking Hills adventures did you get up to this weekend?” View the post here if you’re logged into Facebook.
For the next 30 minutes or so, we paid close attention to the post, liking comments and commenting on shares. And that was it for the night.
By Monday morning, we had a nice, 10,000-ish organic reach. So we kept at it, liking comments, commenting on shares, staying engaged.
By Tuesday afternoon, the post’s organic reach had doubled to 20,000-ish, and by now, we were ready to act. In other words, it was time to accelerate the post with a small paid boost. An organic reach of 20,000 is a hefty amount for this account, as it’s about two-thirds of the total page likes for HHTA.
But what about the dated caption? Would it be weird to boost a post asking people about their weekend 2-3 days later?
Because we hadn’t boosted the post yet we could edit the caption. We changed it to something simple: “A weekend adventure in Hocking Hills is calling.” And then boosted it with $40, targeting key demographics in several Midwest cities we’ve identified as ideal HHTA visitors.
By the time the boost ran out, the post became one of the top-performing posts of the year so far.
There are four key social marketing lessons here:
1.) Stay engaged immediately after posting
Regardless of the social network, staying engaged immediately after you post and for hours later is a very, very good thing. Two reasons: your audience values that you are really there, listening, and the engagement levels tell Facebook or any other network that the post is hot.
2.) Change is good
Timeliness is usually a good approach to social. You want to be in-the-moment because, well, that’s kind of the whole point. But by editing the caption, we were able to completely change the tone of the picture and make it more timeless.
And people responded. In part, because we …
3.) Avoided a direct CTA
Yeah, that’s kind of Social Media 101. People need to be told to respond or they won’t. But we like to think readers are getting more sophisticated.
What’s more, by avoiding a direct and clear-cut CTA, the post suddenly appealed to more people. They didn’t have to answer a specific question. They could respond with wonder, glee, a shared experience, or simply a wish to visit some day.
We had comments from Florida and shared pictures of waterfalls in West Virginia and Puerto Rico. We had people sharing pictures of their favorite Hocking Hills destinations. More than a few comments touched on the magic of the Hills.
Here are a few of our favorites:
“Yes it’s beautiful. Used to think W.Va. was best place to go till I found this !”
“One of my favorite places on earth!”
4.) One viral post leads to more
When one post performs well on Facebook, others follow. Why? Because fans are engaging with one post and then viewing your page and more posts. So, after this waterfall posts, the next two posts to the HHTA Facebook page had organic reaches of at least 30,000 — higher than our average. We opted not to boost those posts so we could spread our budget out a little more throughout the month.
And we also saw our page likes increase from 33,303 on Sunday, March 13, to 33,824 today (March 21).
To recap, the post had a reach of about 90,000 and helped generate an additional 500 page likes in less than a week.