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The Anatomy of a Viral Facebook Photo

The Anatomy of a Viral Facebook Photo
April 3, 2013

On March 19, 2013 a giant mug of root beer went viral on Facebook, and gave one Facebook page its 15 minutes of fame. It was a picture on the Visit Fallon page of an old Bob’s Root Beer mug – a restaurant in Fallon, NV that closed seven years ago. Over 20,000 people saw the post, from a page that (originally) had a little over 650 likes. So what happened? Why did it work? One word – nostalgia.

What Response Did it Get?

At the time of the post, the Visit Fallon page had a little over 650 fans, and a pretty decent response rate from those fans. When Bob’s got posted, 1244 people liked it, 105 people shared it, and 161 people commented on it. It went viral, and over 21,000 people saw the post. “Likes” on the page increased by 15 percent. These numbers continue to increase as the post continues to surface on new pages and walls.

General comments of “I miss this place,” and “they had the best root beer floats” were common. A majority of the comments were people reminiscing about times they spent at Bob’s Root Beer.

Tod used to ride his bike there and get 1 cent candy at the grocery store on the way home. Michelle’s grandma used to take her there over the summer. Lisa’s daughter’s first job was at Bob’s. It’s these comments that prompted others to remember the “good old days” when Bob’s was around.

It’s the type of viral post we all want to make in social media; the type that does all the work for us when it comes to increasing exposure and interactions. It was successful because it reached the audience at a level they could relate to and emotionally connect with.

Why Did it Work?

When nostalgic moments are implemented in a plan, you get a response from your audience that’s stronger than any other – an emotional response. Everybody enjoys reminiscing, whether you’re old enough to remember a time when televisions were only black and white, or if you’re young enough to remember your obsession with N*sync. You take them back to simpler times – times before iPhones and DVR’s and the ever-changing Facebook. We live in such a fast-paced world now, always looking for the next best thing. Sometimes we forget that maybe the “best things” have already been had.

So what happens now?

Run with it. Start a nostalgia social media campaign. You can link moments of the past to current times. Get creative with it. You’ve got a new following you need to keep entertained so they don’t run-off.

Here are a few do’s and don’t’s if you want to try this route for your campaigning:


  • Relate to the audience. Don’t start reminiscing about N*sync if your demographic grew up in the 70s. That won’t help.
  • Be creative! It depends on what kind of business you have, but there are many different ways you can relate past moments to today.
  • Ask questions about that certain moment, or event, or period of time to gain interaction.
  • Be funny. Have fun with it. Humor will always win. Your audience will remember something that makes them smile.
  • Listen, listen, LISTEN. Chances are, the audience will start bringing up other things they remember and like to reminisce about, and you can run with that. They’ll tell you what they want to see – all you have to do is listen.


  • Don’t get too serious. No religious or political posts, or anything that could potentially be offensive in any way.
  • Don’t just sit there and watch it unfold. Be involved. Take notes. Respond to comments. It’s called “social” media for a reason.
  • Taking this route solidifies a place in their heart. They’ll remember you the next time they need you. If you increase the interaction, you increase the amount of people who have the potential to see your posts. You can throw in a few more ads and sales here and there and still keep them entertained.
  • Win their hearts, win their trust, and that will cement your brand.




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