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The Vanity of Going Viral On Facebook

A few months ago, I went viral. It was all my ego could hope for and more. Tens of millions of views of me on stage. What else could a keynote speaker ask for?

Metrics that matter, that’s what.

In this day and age, “Reach” is a metric. Not how many people you actually reached, but some mythical inflated number that looks good but means next to nothing. Let me break down the numbers for you:

32,000,000 reached: That’s how many times the video was served up into a newsfeed on Facebook. Not how many watched it, but more of the old school “your banner ad was served on a website that nobody looked at.”

13,000,000 views: Facebook counts a video as viewed if it plays for more than 3 seconds. That’s not a view to me, that’s a whiff, like you think you smelled something off, so you pause for a second, then carry on with your day. Or one of those billboards that say “You just proved billboard advertising works!”



4,805,002 10-Second Views: Now we’re getting somewhere. One of the reasons we added the letter-boxing and text to the video is to stop the thumb-scroll and have people want to see what it was all about. 10 seconds or more is a good start, but still not there because:

3,400,000 10-Second Views With Sound On: It kind of creeps me out thinking 1,300,000 people watched that video with the sound off for more than 10-seconds. Maybe they were looking at something else in their timeline, while the video played, or they left to investigate that smell I referred to earlier, but the video is useless without sound. I just look like a mime with a man bun that drank too much coffee.

So a useful metric is found after digging down four levels of numbers. About 10% of the original reach was partially useful. But now we have to match goals into metric context. What was the goal of the video? Since keynote speaking at conferences is all I do for a living, getting speaking inquiries is the most important thing. It’s not an everyday thing; they don’t come hundreds at a time usually. Plus they’re usually booked via committee and the lead time between initial awareness to availability request to booking confirmation can be a year or more in some cases.

And the video had a fundamental issue with it: I look like a comedian. Now being called a comedian is an honour for me, since I love and respect the craft, but I don’t do comedy “sets.” Out of all the views, we got one inquiry. And that was asking for me to do my “comedy bit” at a company event.

Now compare those results with a video that got a fraction of the “viral reach” of the first one:


I brought on the team from Luminary Productions to create a speaker trailer that blew my mind. (the opening is the same bit from the viral video.)

43,000 person reach.


5,000 10-Second Views.

1,800 10-Second Views with sound on.

Not even in the same stratosphere as the first video right?

This new video has gotten 7 speaking inquiries since I posted it last week.

Going viral is wonderful. It’s the goal of every piece of content your brand makes. But it needs to move the right needle. If it’s not increasing booking requests for me or increasing sales/sign-ups for you, it’s just vanity.

Because 1,800 real views are sometimes better than 3,400,000.


  • Talk about divine timing. I just started a challenge today of 100 videos in 100 days. This is great information and I thank you for caring and sharing.

    Good to connect with like-minded folks. Judy Wright-Author/Publisher & Intuitive Wise Woman

    • Good luck with your video challenge! My friend Marie Poulin is doing the same thing as part of #the100DayChallenge. Where will you be posting your videos?

      • Hello from beautiful Montana, The videos are posted on (I think that is the link. Anyway they are on my Facebook page. Today I used and love it. I need to learn more about it, but it allows you to post video from your computer.

        Abundance in life is more important than abundance in a bank account. Go have fun. Thanks for being you!! Fondly, Judy Helm Wright–Author/Publisher & Intuitive Wise Woman

  • digisharon

    I saw your presentation at an event last year. You’re pretty much a comedian. #Ilaughed

    • Tom Smith

      And looks like a young George Carlin! Scott I think you’ve “jumped the shark” with this SME (social media expert) evolving into comedian. Take the money and run.

  • Todd Lyden

    Lesson: don’t show long form video on Facebook

  • Great lesson here!! As a super-user of certain software, I have gotten roped into the vanity thing, but it hasn’t resulted in new business. It helps that brand share their message more. And, while I love that brand, I have had to step back to try to focus on things that will make a real impact on my business.

  • Salvador

    Lessons So you better off posting short videos and commercials or none at all.

  • Rima Pervin

    Hey US People .. Just Complete This Survey PLs…

  • Hey Scott, it’s a wonderful read.
    Using social media platforms to leverage brand advertising strategy can be fruitful for business.
    My strategy for ads for Page Likes is pretty simple. Find the right audience and show them an ad that makes it clear I want them to Like my Page.

    Premium Ad Network

  • Bilal Ghani

    Hey Scott,

    What other social media profiles would you use to “reach” the right crowd to gain more inquires besides Facebook. I feel like when it comes to professional inquiries for keynote speaking LinkedIn will be the right crowd. What do you think?