How She Created a Viral Facebook Post Earning 3 Million Organic Views [CASE STUDY]

Every business owner dreams of having one . . . 

. . . the viral Facebook post that gets in front of millions of potential customers, gets tons of Shares, Likes & Comments, and takes on a life of its own.

As Facebook has become more crowded with users and ads, viral posts have gone the way of unicorns and Big Foot.  

Is a viral Facebook post impossible? Absolutely not.

Challenging? Sure.


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In today's case study, you'll see how one social media freelancer did it for a client (and overcame significant challenges in the process).

1. Anatomy of a Viral Post

Let's get right to it: what does a viral Facebook post look like?

Here's the post we're focusing on in this case study: it's from small brand Barn Pros, who manufactures kits for barns, barn homes, shops and garages:

viral facebook post case study socialmediaonlineclasses

The viral Facebook post from Barn Pros got over 3 million views

Let's break down this post:

The Viral Facebook Post


Post Type

Photo post: 6 photos with a CTA link

Post Reach

3 Million+

Post Date

August 30, 2016 (Tuesday)







Link Clicks


Page Likes


The average Facebook post reach for a business page in 2017 is 9%.  How viral was the Barn Pros post? They got almost 20x that: 170% post reach.

2. The Secret Sauce of a Viral Facebook Post

I've broken down the success of Barn Pros' viral post down to a formula you can use:

I'll explain this formula and take a deeper look at each of its four elements:

F is for a Targeted FAN Base

​While this may seem obvious, you need a targeted fan base for your post to go viral. In short, your fans need to care about your brand and be willing to share about it with their fans.

How many fans? Barn Pros has over 176K, but you don't need that many.  I do suggest as least 500.

​​​T is for Brief, Yet Descriptive Text

​​​Barn Pro's post is brief, yet packs a lot of details potential buyers want to know:

  • What barn kit is it? Denali Apartment Barn
  • What are the dimensions? 36' x 48'
  • What does it look like outside? Inside? The six photos show both the interior and exterior of the finished barn, as assembled by a Barn Pros' client.
  • Anything else I need to know? Denali has a full loft apartment
  • Where can I learn more? Website link to the catalog page included in the post

Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? How can you be descriptive and brief at the same time?

It's not easy.

You need to be succinct in your language, using descriptive verbs, sizes, photos, and as many details as possible.

In as few words as possible.

viral facebook post case study brief yet detailed post

This brief post packs a lot of detail in a few words

​​M is for Media: Images or Video

​​The one must-have element for a viral Facebook post is a great image or video. If you're marketing on a Facebook business page without them, you're wasting your time.

Remember "It's the Economy, Stupid" from the 1992 Clinton/Gore presidential campaign? It became their mantra: their one key to focus on to win the election. When it comes to Facebook, "it's the media, stupid." Your images and video are the key to grabbing your fans' attention.

Barn Pros relied on an agency to do their social media, and this post was created by senior social media manager Samantha Joyce. As she mentions in her own analysis of this viral post, Samantha faced the challenge of having no images from Barn Pros to use in their social media marketing. They manufacture the kits, but don't build them. So Samantha is entirely dependent on user-generated content (photos from Barn Pros' clients).

The biggest challenge to Barn Pros social media marketing? They had no images to share of finished kits, relying entirely on photos from clients.

No images from the client? Sound familiar to many social media marketers? Don't let that stop you! Samantha didn't, and you don't have to either. She relied on photos posted from Barn Pros' clients.

What if you don't have product photos or a service-based business? Create your own branded images using (a free tool you can use to create professional-looking images without being a graphic designer).

Here's a video tutorial I recorded on how to use Canva to create your own stock photo library:

Lastly, you need a way for your fans to learn more by using a link in your post:

​​L is for a Call-to-Action Link

While a link isn't strictly necessary for your post to go viral, your brand is far more likely to see website traffic, leads, and sales from a viral post if you do include a related link in your post.

Does that mean if you use the F + T + M + L formula you're guaranteed a viral Facebook post?

Of course not. Those are the elements you need to have for a viral post, but even Barn Pros can't hit a home run with every single post they do.


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3. Go for the Base Hit, Not the Home Run

The viral Facebook formula is one you should keep handy, as it's also the recipe for any successful post. Include those four elements (targeted fans + brief descriptive content + images/video + link) and you'll be developing solid Facebook posts.

Did someone say "consistently?" 

I thought you did!

Here's a more recent post from Barn Pros: while it didn't go viral, it did get tons of authentic engagement. People interested in purchasing the barn kit asking pre-sales questions:

viral facebook post formula Socialmediaonlineclasses

This post has all four elements required to go viral? Did it? No, and most posts won't.

No one can promise your brand a viral Facebook post. If they do, run away!

You can, however, increase the likelihood of your posts going viral by:

  • ​including all four of the elements from the Viral Facebook Post Formula
  • ​posting consistently on your Facebook business page
  • ​engaging with your fans when they have questions (whether it be on the post itself or in Facebook Messenger
  • ​using Facebook ads to boost those posts that get a lot of Reach & Engagement


You've now learned exactly what it takes to make a Facebook post take on a life of its own.

Luck does play a part in what goes viral and what doesn't, especially for a business page. Funny images and video make great viral memes, but they don't sell your products or services. So it takes a delicate balance to give your audience more of what it wants and is willing to share.

If you need help, I'm here for you.  I'd be honored to have you join, and help you to achieve success.

Related Resources


Maria Peagler is the founder of Maria Peagler Digital, a serial entrepreneur, and award-winning author/publisher of nine books. She is an award-winning artist in both watercolor and quilting. She is married to her husband of 30 years, mom to two adult sons, and enjoys hiking in the north Georgia mountains.

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