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What We Learned from going Viral on Reddit

May 30, 2017

We’ve been waiting an entire year to finally publish this story. In this blog, you will see first-hand how powerful going viral for 24 hours on the internet can be. We will dive into the type of website traffic we received, how many leads we got from this publicity, and even how much revenue came about because of 24 hours of small online fame. Here’s our company’s first-hand story about how our Founder, James Harper, went viral on Reddit, and how it directly impacted our small business, GoEdison.

The date was April 21st, 2016. I was about to leave my current agency job to start my entrepreneurial journey. I was sitting at my desk for the last time, anxiously awaiting the clock to strike 1:00 PM. A week earlier, I had given my two weeks notice that I was leaving my agency to team up with a few partners to start my own business. I won’t bore you with logistics, but in short I was leaving a very comfortable and secure job to give me the best opportunity to shine with my company, GoEdison.

A day earlier, on April 20th, I got an email from the CEO requesting to meet with me. The CEO had just been made aware I was leaving his company to start my own. His email read verbatim: “James, we need to meet tomorrow at 1:00 PM. Be ready.”

This is coming from a CEO who would send company-wide emails referring to his employees as nerds, and would send company quarterly sales updates telling his sales team to “make me that money.” This CEO was the most quintessential 1980’s asshole salesperson you could possibly find. He still liked using the old school sales term “blood build” to inspire sales motivation within his company culture; it was mind-blowing how much of a poster-child this man was as far as what NOT to do as a leader. If you don’t believe me, I actually found an old email. I took a screenshot for you to enjoy!

So, here I was, 30 minutes before my dreaded meeting with this CEO. I thought the inevitable was going to happen: instead of letting me finish out my weekly notice, he was just going to fire me on the spot after he chewed me out. After all, this man craved power, and leaving on “my own terms” would hurt his ego. I was sure of it.

With the nerves getting the best of me, and the need to kill 30 minutes, I decided to post on the “Entrepreneur” subreddit via the Reddit website. With zero thought, I started writing about what I was going through via my current situation. The post had this title: “I’m about to get fired in 30 minutes…”

I didn’t know at the time how much impact the post would have within this subreddit – let alone the impact it would have on my company. I didn’t intend for this post to get the type of traction it did. Looking back, there are a few key takeaways I want to share with you. Let’s dive in.

How Much Traction Did My Reddit Post Really Get?

Let’s put it this way: I posted this at 1:00 PM, and by the time I was done with my meeting about an hour later with the CEO, the post had already received 200+ upvotes and 40+ comments. Any regular Reddit user will know these are crazy statistics for engagement. You can view the original post here to confirm the upvotes and comments. The engagement this post received was insane. Listed below is a breakdown of the final Reddit stats:

At a Glance Reddit Stats

  • Total upvotes: 877
  • Made it to bottom of top page on Reddit for 24 hours
  • Total comments: 353
  • Total leads from this post = 5 quality leads (more on this later)
  • Total conversions: 2 conversions (again, more on this later)

As you can see, this post did well – to say the least. I won’t lie, I wasn’t ready for this type of engagement, and – looking back – I really wish we capitalized on it more. Then again, when you get in a PR frenzy, very rarely are you “prepared for it.”

So, great, the post did well. Now what? Well, let’s dive into our company’s analytics to show you just how well going semi-viral on Reddit can be for your company.

GoEdison Website Analytics 24 Hours after Post

As you will see from the screenshots below, we received a lot of website traffic in a 24-hour period. Keep in mind, we were literally a BRAND NEW company at this time – with very little website traffic. So, this uptick in traffic was even more immense considering our normal average website traffic at that time based on our analytics, which we followed closely.

Total Website Traffic 24 Hours after Post Went Live

  • 233 total users
  • 554 total pageviews
  • Total bounce rate: 53% (which most deem as high-quality)
  • 87% of traffic were “new” visitors
  • Side note: our Twitter & Facebook following also increased by a total of 38 new followers in a 24-hour period.

You might have picked this up from just looking at the engagement on the post already, but this was a pool of awesome entrepreneurs and business owners. Some even needed our services. Right off the bat, we gained eight newsletter signups that we can credit to this post.

In terms of leads, we got a total of five quality leads within 24 hours. In this case, I’m labeling a “lead” if I actually set a meeting with someone. If you’re in sales, anytime you can get five QUALITY leads in a 24 hour period, you know you hit a goldmine.

All five sales meetings about GoEdison services were from quality business owners that were genuinely interested in our services. We closed a total of two out of the five leads from the post.


The Nitty-Gritty: How Much Revenue Came from This Publicity

Like we had said above, we had five quality sales meetings that came from this post. Out of those five we closed two within 30 days. A normal sales conversion cycle for us prior to this post was 60-90 days on average. So, closing two new clients in 30 days was a big deal.

Remember, we were a brand new company at this time with a very small amount of revenue. Our agency works off 6 or 12 month contracts, and both clients we gained from this viral post signed on for 12 month contracts.

The first client we signed on – almost immediately after this viral “fame” – signed on for a $600/month retainer, which brought our revenue to $7,200 (yearly) from ONE account. Again, at that time, this was a major win because we were still so new to selling our services.

Client number two, which we achieved from this Reddit post, took a little bit longer to close, but was at a higher price point. We ended up signing on the second client for $1,450/month, which increased our annual revenue from this one account by $17,400.

In total, from about 48 hours of semi-viral publicity on Reddit, we ended up selling $24,600 in annual services from two accounts. This was a major win for us as a new company.

Lessons Learned – Our Takeaways Looking Back

I think it’s always critical as a small business to reflect on what you could have done better in certain situations. Hindsight is one hell of a lesson isn’t it? With that said, below are a few key lessons I want to highlight I wish our company would’ve taken better advantage of.

Could have been better and more diligent with follow up:

At the end of the day, I know we left potential clients on the table, which means we left money on the table. We could have been better as a team with our follow-up. There were over 300+ comments. Frankly, I dropped the ball with respect to responding to ALL of them. I was overwhelmed. We should’ve met immediately as a team after the surge of engagement and discussed a reactive plan of attack as far as how to capitalize on all this unexpected attention.

We were green as a company, and it showed:

We were a new company. Before this publicity, we were flying by the seat of our pants – let alone after all this attention hit us. We were totally green as a company – from our sales pitch to our s
ervices breakdown to our follow-up process. We were green. With that being said, we dropped the ball as far as fully capitalizing on this opportunity.

The right publicity can be very strong and healthy for your business:

You might read this bullet and think, “Well…of course it can be.” The truth is I’m notorious for thinking PR is about 75% bullshit. I felt so strongly about this belief I had another Reddit post on this topic, which you can find here.

Here’s the truth: our company got a quick crash course on handling PR. The right type of press can be very valuable for your business. Having a plan in place when the good press hits is a good idea. Looking back, this is all something I wish we would’ve capitalized on better.

Don’t Share Your Company’s Revenue:

You might be thinking, what the hell does this have to do with anything? Here’s the dead honest truth: GoEdison made out like bandits with some quality leads from this Reddit post. We were such a new company, we weren’t fully confident in our services. Our services weren’t nearly as fully developed as they are now. We had a bad partnership set up with another company at this time to help us outsource and supplement services as well.

The revenue, relationships, and lead-generation GoEdison gained from this post was heavily shared with another company, which we never should’ve formed a partnership with. The partnership ended later that year as a result of this company’s poor services and horrible customer service.

As a business owner one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to be VERY selective with whom you tie your business to. We connected our brand to a bad company for a short amount of time; we lost out on some revenue because of it. Thankfully, our reputation and brand wasn’t hurt in the process. Frankly, our brand means more to us than the small amount of revenue and lead-gen we shared with the former partner.

Looking back, we created one hell of an opportunity for ourselves through the Entrepreneur subreddit via Reddit. I think the post caught fire because it was 100% raw and real. One thing we’ve always done a great job with as a company is keeping our content and brand’s voice very human and genuine. We’ve been transparent like very few other small businesses in our industry. When you’re human, people relate. When people relate, people engage. When people engage, it’s up to YOU as a business to capitalize.

Enjoy some screen-shots for your viewing pleasure from this post. Here’s our Reddit post highlight reel