With almost 50 million views and 1.7 million shares, Holley Kitchen’s short Facebook video about her struggle with metastatic breast cancer has quickly become one of the most widely watched health education messages in US history. She’s on track to surpass even President Obama’s recent Buzzfeed hit for Healthcare.gov.
With no media or medical background, this mother from Austin, TX has single-handedly raised overall awareness about metastatic breast cancer, while also elegantly conveying several key facts about the condition.
Self-shot with her iPhone and a series of hand-written index cards, it’s difficult to imagine a lower “production budget”. Although her video may lack production quality, she makes up for it by her silent and emotional delivery while she flips through her cards. “Heartfelt sincerity” sounds like a bit of a greeting card cliché, but it is Kitchen’s undeniable sincerity that makes the video succeed in such a powerful way. In addition to facts about the disease, her “script” also contains several humorous and ironic quotes about things people have said to her. With each quote, she gives a grimly amused shake of the head or, in some cases, roll of the eyes. She ends the video by encouraging viewers to visit various breast cancer websites, as well as sharing the #lifer hashtag created for patients like her who are facing a life-long struggle with cancer.
1. Facebook Video Is Firing on All Cylinders
Not only was this video clip powerful in its own right, but it caught an incredible wave of positive sentiment within Facebook, which helped drive overall views. According to Mashable, “When you post a video instead of a photo, you’ll see an average boost in reach of 135%. This is, in part, due to the fact that Facebook’s algorithm is partial to video, but also because video stands out in the News Feed. The fact that Facebook videos auto-play on mobile is a big reason why two-thirds of Facebook’s video views are on mobile devices.”
2. Compelling and Authentic Storytelling Is More Important Than Production Values
While people certainly enjoy high-end production values, online clips are expected to have a more personal and “home grown” feel. The simplicity and authenticity of Kitchen’s video is undeniable, which is why it is so effective and also received so many shares. Completion stats are not available, but given the step-by-step flow of her story, it’s a safe bet that in addition to garnering an astonishing number of views the clip has also had an exceptionally high number of viewers who watched it all the way to completion.
3. Serious Content Can Go Seriously Viral
This clip is at the far end of the scale from the typical dancing kitten and laughing baby clips that tend to go viral in the social space. However, it turns out that there is an audience for serious content when it is delivered in a way that is relatable, authentic, and informative. This combination is by no means a “repeatable formula” for viral success; but finding a voice that is relatable, authentic, and informative certainly increases the chances that an important message will be widely shared and viewed.
With more than 900 million daily active users, and newly enhanced video features, Facebook is now ideally positioned to rapidly propel a video from obscurity to national notoriety. If you follow Holley Kitchen’s example and create a video that has a compelling story, and is delivered in an authentic and heartfelt fashion, even serious topics and conditions can find an incredibly large and appreciative audience.