You Are What You Share: Why Videos Go Viral

What makes a video go viral? Is it because it includes kids, kittens or puppies? Or is it because there’s something much deeper? If you want your articles or videos to be shared, you must understand why and how your content will reflect on the individual sharing it.

What Makes Your Video Go Viral?For more on how to go viral, don’t miss Gary’s session on the All About Direct Marketing Virtual Conference, on May 4! Click here to register.

What makes a video go viral? Is it because it includes kids, kittens or puppies? Or is it because there’s something much deeper? If you want your articles or videos to be shared, you must understand why and how your content will reflect on the individual sharing it.

Why Shares Go Viral

Neuroscience and other research studies suggest that for a video to go viral, there are several deep-seated ingredients that must come together.

A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania neuroscience research lab team recorded brain activity from participants about how they reacted to New York Times health articles. Brain activity suggests that people have a two-part process to decide what to share on social media, and it all points to how shared articles or videos shape their identity:

  • Social relationships: How sharing an article or video will reflect on you
  • Developing self-image: Will friends be interested in the article or video?

In other words, people share things that they believe will improve their relationships, make them appear smart or, in one way or another, look favorable.

You Are What You Share

The deep dive, on a simple sharing impulse, is that your brain looks for information to share with others. It’s how we’re wired. Additional reasons for shares:

  1. To express who we really are
  2. To convey a sense of our ideal self and aspirations
  3. To nurture relationships

In a New York Times study titled “The Psychology of Sharing: Why Do People Share Online?” six sharing personality types where described:

  1. Altruists: Motivated to bring valuable content to those they care about
  2. Careerists: Focused on developing a strong network of personal and professional contacts.
  3. Hipsters: They like to start a conversation, debate or controversy. They are always looking to connect with like-minded people.
  4. Boomerangs: Motivated primarily by reactions; they like to start a debate and generate comments.
  5. Connectors: For them, they share mutual experiences and including others.
  6. Selectives: Shares information they feel will be of value to a specific person.

This same study found that 68 percent share to define themselves. Eighty-four percent share to support causes or brands that they care about.

In other words, you are what you share. You share to express who you are, deep inside.

Why ‘Adjacent Possibilities’ Are More Profitable Than Bright Shiny Objects

Identifying “adjacent possibilities” in your organization’s products and services has the potential to create something new, without the risk of chasing far-flung shiny object ideas with questionable ROI. I was recently introduced to the power of adjacent possibilities by …

Illustration of cloud network with multiple nodes and connectionsIdentifying “adjacent possibilities” in your organization’s products and services has the potential to create something new, without the risk of chasing far-flung shiny object ideas with questionable ROI. I was recently introduced to the power of adjacent possibilities by long-time friend and colleague, Nick Usborne, at an American Writers and Artists Web Intensive workshop where we were both speakers.

The premise of an adjacent possibility is that something new can be created from two existing and adjacent ideas. For example: chocolate and peanut butter. Separated for years, then combined to become a hot seller in Reece’s peanut butter cups.

Another example: laptops and smartphones. An adjacent possibility was the creation of the tablet — larger than a smartphone, but smaller than a laptop. Now tablets are everywhere.

For background about adjacent possibilities, it’s useful to quote “Finding Your Next Big (Adjacent) Idea” from the Harvard Business Review that says:

The idea of adjacent possibilities started with evolutionary biologist Stuart Kauffman, who used it to explain how such powerful biological innovations as sight and flight came into being. More recently, Steven Johnson, in “Where Good Ideas Come From,” showed that it’s also applicable to science, culture, and technology. The core of the idea: People arrive at the best new ideas when they combine prior (adjacent) ideas in new ways. Most combinations fail; a few succeed spectacularly.

Many organizations are obsessed with seeking the newest big product innovation. And that’s good. Disruptive technologies and products have power.

But a singular focus on completely new products or services, without considering adjacent possibilities of existing products, is also a risk. Why? Because a competitor may swoop in by identifying an adjacent possibility that’s been overlooked, and succeed with a new product by stealing smart.

Adjacent possibility tips that Nick suggested include:

  • Look inside your organization to see where you may have adjacent possibilities in current products where an outgrowth won’t involve a risky leap forward.
  • You don’t have to be the best at any one thing. Just be pretty good at two or three things you can combine.
  • If you don’t have two or three things to combine, connect with one or two other people (or organizations) who have adjacent skills.

In a world of adjacent possibilities, you can take the pressure off, and create big successes.

The ‘Why’ That Gets Prospects to Buy

We’re in an age where copy must work harder to be noticed and break through. The superficial message will be overlooked, and unless it speaks to the heart in a grab-by-the-collar kind of way, it’s lost. So how do you peel back the layers of resistance to deliver the deeper why?

EmotionsWe’re in an age where copy must work harder to be noticed and break through. The superficial message will be overlooked, and unless it speaks to the heart in a grab-by-the-collar kind of way, it’s lost. So how do you peel back prospects’ layers of resistance to deliver the deeper why?

In my last blog I wrote about breaking through to the big idea. Without a big idea, a headline and story become noise.

And without emotion, the big idea may not work.

That’s why copywriters and marketers must work harder to peel back the hardened layers that people add to their personas.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been on the planning team for a musical production coming this July in Las Vegas. There will be about 300 singers from two large choral groups on stage together performing before about 8,000 people.

It would be easy to stand before the audience and sing great songs. But the question we’ve pressed ourselves to answer is this: What emotion do we want the individual in the audience to feel, the moment the curtain comes down?

We’re getting closer to identifying a handful of deep emotions about the impact of singing, but one exercise we used applies to marketers and copywriters, and might be useful to help you identify the deeper emotion of a new message.

Consider the following scenario. At first glance it may seem simplistic, but look past the pure utility of whatever you’re offering to the deeper end benefit can often lead to that clarity of “why.”

A man walks into a hardware store. An employee asks him what he’s searching for.

“A drill,” he replies.

The employee shows the customer to the aisle with drills. Without probing any further, the employee says, “if you need something else let me know,” and walks away.

The employee simply assumed the customer wanted a drill. But what if the employee had known that this was more than drilling a hole? What if it was learned that the customer was building an awning on the backyard of his home? And that he may have needed additional materials or tools for the project?

Or perhaps the employee would have learned that the reason the customer was buying a drill was because he was building the awning for his daughter. Then, she would have a place to sit in the shade on a sunny day, and under protection on a rainy day.

Or, maybe with more conversation, the customer would have revealed that the deeper reason for building the awning was because his daughter was disabled and confined to a wheelchair. And sitting outside was the only time for his daughter to breathe fresh air.

After peeling back the layers, you realize you’re not just selling the simple utility of a drill. You’re in the business of helping your clients and customers get to an emotional satisfaction — of helping them achieve their bigger goal that’s driven by the “why.”

The point of this thought process, and the reason to keep asking “why,” is that even something as simple as purchasing a drill may have a much deeper emotional reason behind the purchase.

When you know the deeper persona of the person you’re reaching, or can imagine their story, your message can get to the core of a deeper emotional feeling that enables the customer to make their decision in a heartbeat.

Gary Hennerberg gives you the detail of his “Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” in his book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com.

Discovering the Big Idea

What’s holding you back from creating your next breakthrough marketing campaign? It’s probably you. Why? Because instead of coming up with a new big idea that you can test, you may be just shuffling the same deck of cards. So how do you discover the big idea? Here are a few …

Content Creation IdeasWhat’s holding you back from creating your next breakthrough marketing campaign? It’s probably you. Why? Because instead of coming up with a new big idea that you can test, you may be just shuffling the same deck of cards. So how do you discover the big idea? Here are a few tips.

Copywriters and marketing professionals see a lot of copy. And it must be evaluated. The trap is in deceiving yourself that “breaking through” is simply rearranging the words from a past promo and calling it new. Fact is, this approach isn’t likely to produce a new winner.

Recently I evaluated copy from several seminar attendee copywriters where I presented a client case study and the challenge to write a subject line, headline and lead for an email promo. They only had about a day to work on it. The copywriters who had their game on were those who spun an existing message into a new idea, metaphor, perspective, or story.

That’s what I was looking for, because a new, big idea, has the power to beat a control. I believe it’s because big ideas create new memory for a prospective customer. Turned into long-term memory with a follow-up, longer-form message, the big idea has better odds of converting into a sale.

Ideas sell. Here are a few tips about how you might identify a big idea worthy of testing:

  • Interview customers — or better — interview prospective customers and ask what it will take to earn their business. Phone calls are good; focus groups can be better. Ask them why they buy. Then, ask them a follow-up “why?” to peel back the layers.
  • If you’re a marketer, you surely have data — all kinds of data ranging from demographics to behavioral information. Examine your data through a new lens to inspire yourself and imagine the possibilities for a new big idea.
  • Look at the characteristics of your best customers. You know, the Pareto Principle; often simply called the “80/20 rule.”
  • What are your competitors doing? But don’t knock them off. Steal smart, add your own twist and rise above them.

Conversations with peers and co-workers can also inspire copywriters and marketers. Ask “what if” questions. Ask “why” questions. Ask what the driving emotion is that tips a prospect into becoming a customer.

Then, let your copywriter digest the research, discussion and background materials, and take a step back with these “4 Ways to Get Creative” to let the big idea reveal itself.

Gary Hennerberg gives you the detail of his “Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” in his book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com.

5 Copywriting Tips to Reduce Email Unsubscribes

Email strategy and copywriting could use improvement, according to a recent survey where consumers revealed reasons why they unsubscribe from emails. Consumers used words like “boring, repetitive,” “same ads in print,” “too focused on company’s needs” and “I don’t trust their email” as reasons why they unsubscribe. Today, I share five tips to reduce unsubscribes.

Email strategy and copywriting could use improvement, according to a recent survey where consumers revealed reasons why they unsubscribe from emails. Consumers used words like “boring, repetitive,” “same ads in print,” “too focused on company’s needs” and “I don’t trust their email” as reasons why they unsubscribe. Today, I share five tips to reduce email unsubscribes.

Internet users were surveyed by MarketingSherpa asking why they unsubscribe from emails. The top results aren’t terribly surprising:

  • 26 percent say “I get too many emails in general”
  • 21 percent say “The emails aren’t relevant to me”
  • 19 percent say “I receive too many emails from this company specifically”

But several other answers (summarized in this article by eMarketer) are ones where more solid marketing strategy and effective email copywriting, could result in fewer people unsubscribing:

  • 17 percent say “The content of the emails is boring, repetitive and not interesting to me”
  • 13 percent say “I receive the same ads and promotions in the email that I get in print form (direct mail, print magazines, newspapers, etc.)”
  • 11 percent say “The email is too focused on the company’s needs, and not enough on my needs.”
  • 10 percent say “I don’t trust their email to provide the information I need to make purchase decisions.”

When you have a solid strategy, and email copywriting is put to the test, these shouldn’t be reasons you lose subscribers or customers.

This week, I had the privilege of talking about email marketing at American Writers and Artists Web Copywriting Intensive, so today I share five concepts from that presentation that should reduce unsubscribes:

  1. Start thinking like the person getting your email (duh). My specific recommendation is that you align your message with how the mind naturally thinks. I covered this in detail in my column two weeks ago where I shared a framework describing how to align your message with the way your prospective customer thinks.
  2. There are at least two (definitely more) reasons why someone opens an email, on the strength of the subject line. It’s because you provoked relevant curiosity with intended ambiguity (keyword “relevant”). Or, you promised something specific, perhaps a number, or words such as “how to,” or pointed out that there is a “video.” More about that in my column about using words proven to have a viral effect.
  3. Multivariate tests using email marketing automation can go a long way to identifying what your email recipient wants to see. Consider that you can scramble tests of three subject lines, three headlines, and three other elements (like images, your lead, call-to-action button, etc.) and be able to evaluate 27 different test combinations. One approach is to use Bayesian Analytic mythology.
  4. Pay attention to what other marketers, and competitors are emailing. Recent research I conducted on emails archived in the Who’s Mailing What email marketing database produced findings you should test. Here are the most popular words and symbols in 2016 emails (the most used symbol is the “%” sign, and most used word is “off”), and the percents most popular (“20%” is the highest number found in email subject lines).
    Words and symbols in 2016 email subject lines
    2016’s most used words and symbols in email subject lines according the Who’s Mailing What!

    Percent amounts used in email subject lines in 2016 according to Who's Mailing What!
    Percent amounts used in email subject lines in 2016 according to Who’s Mailing What!
  5. Make your email more relevant with email marketing automation driven by specific reasons people are on your list. Create email marketing workflows based on behaviors such as topic of interest, new customers, lead nurturing, re-engagement, abandoned shopping cart and more. I found a great list of 13 email marketing workflows, complete with explanations, from Hubspot.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad players out there who spam our prospects and customers. But consumers are smart. When they trust you, when you respect their time, and when you send them relevant emails, you shouldn’t have to worry about large numbers of unsubscribes.

Gary Hennerberg gives you the detail of his “Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” in his book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com.

Fill in the Blanks: A Framework Where Strategy and Copy Writes Itself

A blank screen or sheet of paper is daunting when starting to conceive a strategy or write copy. There are formulas abound for getting started. But the framework I’ve found most impactful, based on experience and results, is …

copy strategyA blank screen or sheet of paper is daunting when starting to conceive a copy strategy. There are formulas abound for getting started. But the framework I’ve found most impactful, based on experience and results, is one that I have personally conceived and refined over the past years.

I use a seven-step framework to create copy strategy that aligns with how people naturally process information, think and lead themselves to a place where they give themselves permission to inquire, buy or donate. This is detailed in my new book, Crack the Customer Mind Code.

I used this framework once again last week when an organization called me in to meet about a troubled direct mail and online marketing program. I walked the team through the framework, and we were quickly able to identify the disconnect between the approach they were using and what they should be communicating instead. In an hour, a succinct “road map” was created. It became apparent why their recent marketing campaigns weren’t working, and in the second hour of our meeting, we wasted no time in talking through the implementation of a new copy strategy.

I use this framework when writing a letter, video script or content — virtually any copy that requires getting my point across with a story. With client input, we discuss and fill in the blanks in the matrix. The result is a framework that enables faster copywriting and testing.

Most importantly: The seven steps lead to short-term memory, and often the desired long-term memory that serves as the tipping point when the prospect becomes a customer (read how this framework creates new memory in The 3 Levels of Memory: Marketing’s End Game).

Here’s how it works: I create a matrix like the one below (download the PDF). I ask questions, and fill in the answers. Fill in the blanks in the right column and your strategy will reveal itself. Then use the information to start writing copy, and your message practically writes itself.

7-Step Framework for Creating Copy Strategy (opens as a PDF)

Gary Hennerberg gives you the details of his “Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” in his book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com

7 Secret Formulas for Getting Free Earned Media

A few days ago, I read Neil Patel’s blog post: “How to Give Your Content Wings: We Analyzed 11,541 Viral Articles from 2016 to Uncover the Secret Formula.” Excluding articles considered “complete spam,” Patel’s post discusses ideas and confirms formulas that every marketer and copywriter should know. The secret? Killer headlines. The formula? Actually, it’s more like seven formulas.

article-71342_1280The right combination of truly shareable words and ideas will energize marketing without crossing the line of becoming fake news. So even if you don’t use content marketing to support your overall campaigns, every marketer and copywriter can learn something from an analysis of 11,541 viral articles that reveals the top seven formulas that not only grab your readers’ attention, but gets shared to their friends.

A few days ago, I read Neil Patel’s blog post: “How to Give Your Content Wings: We Analyzed 11,541 Viral Articles from 2016 to Uncover the Secret Formula.”  Excluding articles considered “complete spam,” Patel’s post discusses ideas and confirms formulas that every marketer and copywriter should know.

The secret? Killer headlines.

The formula? Actually, it’s more like seven formulas.

Even if you don’t write content articles, there is something here to be learned for copywriters.

Here is an overview of Patel’s top seven data-driven tactics in headlines that drive more social shares:

1. Use Numbers

Patel says, “Use numbers in at least half of your articles.” In his analysis, 61 percent of top-performing article headlines had a number. A reason people click on titles with a number is certainty of what they will read. Another observation: You don’t necessarily need the number at the beginning of the title.

2. “This Is What…”

Because headlines with the highest engagement have 16-18 words, Patel looked for phrases that have been repeated. The phrase “this is what” was used often. Again, probably because of the certainty created with the definitive and authoritative phrase.

3. 500 +/- Words

More traffic may come from longer articles (due to higher rankings and traffic). But for sharing, shorter works. Images also impact social sharing. If you are publishing breaking news, write articles around 500 words.

4. “How to” Still Works

The phrase “how to” has been known to work for generations. No surprise here. An article in the vein of “how to” is usually informative, and teaches.

5. Question Titles

Two-word phrases forming questions like “Do you…?” “Can you…?” and “Is the…?” work. So does this three-word phrase: “Do you agree…?”

6. Controversy

2016 was certainly a year of controversy, especially with a nasty election. But controversy sparks curiosity and interest, according to Patel. His recommendation? Create a title that contains a controversial issue.

7. Video

Another non-surprise was that using the word “video” resulted in higher shares. That’s been true of email subject lines for some time. So, whenever possible, post videos and include “video” in the title.

If you’re looking for something new to test, start your search with what works, and add to it from there. These formulas, revealed by analysis, should energize your messaging, whether you’re writing online articles, email subject lines or direct mail headlines.

Aligning Your Sales Story With Customer Worldview

What is the worldview of your customers and prospects, and why is it important in marketing and sales? Your customer’s values, beliefs and biases have shaped their thinking — thinking that is unlikely to be changed, no matter the facts.

What is the worldview of your customers and prospects, and why is it important in marketing and sales? Your customers’ values, beliefs and biases have shaped their thinking — thinking that is unlikely to be changed, no matter the facts.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “worldview” lately, prompted by reading Seth Godin’s book, “All Marketers are Liars.”

Today I’ll share a few quotes from his book that I think are instructional to help you understand why you must reinforce what your customer already believes. Your prospects and customers seek out stories that reinforce a point-of-view that they identify with.

The premise of Godin’s book is that stories move people to action. I concur. Stories transform marketing positioning and messaging and create stronger memory and recall. People seek out stories that reinforce their worldview, even if the facts aren’t accurate. Nearly a year ago I wrote about the science of opinions and why facts don’t matter (read it here).

Godin writes that “worldview is the term I use to refer to the rules, values, beliefs and biases that an individual consumer brings to a situation. A worldview is not who you are. It’s what you believe. It’s your biases. A worldview is not forever. It’s what the consumer believes right now.”

Here are several thought-provoking quotes from Godin’s book:

This on why stories should agree with your customer’s worldview:

Great stories agree with our worldview. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.

This on why you shouldn’t try to change someone’s worldview (even if the facts and data reveal they are wrong):

Don’t try to change someone’s worldview is the strategy most smart marketers follow. Don’t try to use facts to prove your case and to insist that people change their biases. You don’t have enough time and you don’t have enough money. Instead, identify a population with a certain worldview, frame your story in terms of the worldview and you win.

This, on preconceived worldviews:

Worldviews are the reason that two intelligent people can look at the same data and walk away with completely different conclusions—it’s not that they didn’t have access to the data or that they have poor reasoning skill, it’s simply that they had already put themselves into a particular worldview before you even asked the question.

Finally:

Every consumer has a worldview that affects the product you want to sell. That worldview alters the way they interpret everything you say and do. Frame your story in terms of that worldview, and it will be heard.

In a time when opinions are strong, and consensus and compromise are elusive, remember that facts often don’t matter, and your prospects and customers engage and buy from (or donate to) organizations that align with their worldview.

Read more about the science of why facts don’t matter in Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. Or download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with the worldview of your prospective buyer. It’s titled When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.

10-Point Repositioning Checklist for 2017

The start of a new year is a good time to pause and reflect about your organization’s 2016 revenue performance. At least once annually, it’s smart to step back and consider if it’s time to reposition your brand, story and unique selling proposition — especially if sales are off.

The start of a new year is a good time to pause and reflect about your organization’s 2016 revenue performance. At least once annually, it’s smart to step back and consider if it’s time to consider repositioning your brand, story and unique selling proposition — especially if sales are off.

Of course, there are multiple reasons impacting sales outcomes, such as competition, pricing, the economy, and even distraction caused by the election. But my observation is that it’s rarely just one thing that contributes to an off year. The reality is that several individual reasons — that when added together — play a cumulative role in affecting your success.

My recommendation? Evaluate this 10-point repositioning checklist that, when combined, embody your position, and can have a direct impact on 2017 sales.

Repositioning Checklist

1. Brand Name: Is it easy to pronounce and remember? Does it sound current with the times?

2. Brand Equity: Brand equity, by definition, is the real value of a brand name for an organization’s products or services. Establishing brand equity is essential because brands are known to be strong influencers of critical business outcomes. Does your brand convey value? How long has your brand been around?

3. Tagline: Do you have two or three words that pay off your brand name? If you don’t have a tagline, you should create one. Sometimes, just refreshing your tagline will be enough to breathe new life into your brand.

4. Logo: Is it modern? Are you using colors that bring out the desired emotion of your customer? (Refer to my past column, Stimulating Action with Color, for specific color recommendations).

5. One Word: What is the one word that describes the essence of your product or brand? It’s tough to distill your personality to just one word, but the exercise is helpful.

6. Brand Emotion: Does your brand reflect what you are known for, or would like to be known for? Click here for five steps to shed light on creating a solid branding statement.

7. USP: What is your unique selling proposition? Have you reduced it to a short paragraph that everyone in your organization can refer to when developing new marketing materials? If you need ideas, here are my five proven ways to create a blockbuster unique selling proposition.

8. Your Story: Stories differentiate you from your competitors in today’s culture now more than ever. If you need proof, I recommend reading Seth Godin’s book, All Marketers are Liars (which, by the way, was repositioned with a cover change. The word “Liars” is crossed out and replaced with “Tell Stories.”)

9. Golden Thread: Your story — your position — should have a Golden Thread that weaves throughout your message. What are the two or three words (or a brief concept) that you can continually use to bring your customer back to your core message?

10. Positioning Alignment: Is your positioning aligned with the personality — the persona — of your customer? A persona goes beyond demographic and behavior information. It gets to the intuition and core thinking of the fears, hopes, dreams, and values of an individual. (Much more about personas, and the twelve I’ve observed most in my direct marketing career in my book, Crack the Customer Mind Code available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore).

Dive into this checklist with your team, and I can assure you the conversation will be lively, and could produce a new breakthrough for you in 2017.

10 Lessons From My First Viral Video

Creating a video and having it go viral is surely every marketer’s dream. Last month, it happened for me. The outcomes — ranging from monetization to brand awareness — were surprising, eye-opening and beyond my wildest dreams. Since you, too, may hope someday to have a video you’ve created go viral, I offer 10 lessons …

Creating a video and having it go viral is surely every marketer’s dream. Last month, it happened for me. The outcomes — ranging from monetization to brand awareness — were surprising, eye-opening and beyond my wildest dreams. Since you, too, may hope someday to have a video you’ve created go viral, I offer 10 lessons that I have learned with this viral video experience.

Regular readers know that I do the marketing work for an internationally acclaimed chorus that has appeared throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The performers, including myself, are all volunteers. We sing for the love of singing, bringing richness and emotionally touching people’s lives.

It’s been my dream, for years, that someday we’d have a video go viral. Instinctively, I knew it wouldn’t be a polished, professionally produced video, but rather, a video showing a side of the chorus that the public generally doesn’t see.

A confluence of factors set the stage. One of the chorus’s most beloved songs is “Hallelujah,” written by the great singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist and painter, Leonard Cohen. He passed away on Nov. 10.

As we had planned to rehearse “Hallelujah” for an upcoming Christmas Show that evening, word spread of his passing. I realized that honoring Cohen by singing “Hallelujah” would be a moment to acknowledge this great modern-day composer. We had experimented with Facebook Live Streaming in recent weeks, with very positive audience response and a few thousand views. So we decided to live stream this unscripted moment to our thousands of Facebook fans, as we remembered Cohen and sang his song to honor him.

In a moment of spontaneity, we gathered our thoughts and I asked one of our teenage performers to hold his iPhone for the live stream. In a hurry, he didn’t have his tripod, so he held his phone in the vertical orientation (natural when using any smartphone) instead of horizontal (which would have better filled the frame for most viewers). Our director, by his own admission, rambled in the early seconds of his introduction. And yet, through this less-than-ideal setup for a video, it has been viewed by millions.

We recorded it at about 10:00 p.m., toward the end of our rehearsal. By 8:00 a.m. the next morning, it had already been viewed 30,000 times. We were thrilled, but then the groundswell continued. The next milestone of about 100,000 views came at about 1:00 p.m. Then a half million by 10 a.m. the next morning. One million in just over 48 hours.

And now, just a month after it was recorded, it has been viewed more than 8.2 million times, with the post seen by about 19 million. The numbers continue to grow — even after 30 days.

Equally impressive: More than 184,000 people have shared the video, and about 52,000 have commented. The comments came from all 50 U.S. States, and dozens of countries. I’ve always felt it important to promptly respond to comments of an inquiring nature. We have kept up with them, but at 52,000 comments, it’s been a heavy lift to read and respond accordingly. Engagement breeds further engagement. You have to do the work.

Along the way, the media in Dallas-Fort Worth (where the chorus is based) picked up the story with interviews and mentions on a local TV station, the Dallas Morning News, a highly rated radio station, and smaller community newspapers.