Megan's Social Media Marketing Show - Episode 18 - How My Instagram Reel Went Viral with Becky McCoy

ep18 - How My Instagram Reel Went Viral with Becky L. McCoy

show May 12, 2021

Becky’s late-night, spur-of-the-moment Reel turned into a viral post that is still gaining traction. A viral post is something most social media creators wish they could experience but very few actually do.

Becky tells all about:

  • How she got the idea for the Reel
  • How many followers and unfollows she got
  • What she’s glad she posted after the Reel went viral
  • How she responded to the negative comments

If you’ve been plotting to get one of your posts to go viral, we can’t promise anything, but Becky lays out a few key strategies that you won’t want to miss!



About My Guest:

Becky L. McCoy is a writer, speaker, widow, sometimes swearer, and the founder of the virtual and live BRAVEtogether retreats. She lives on the Connecticut coast with her two precocious and hilarious children. Having struggled with depression and anxiety and experienced several seasons of grief and struggle, Becky is passionate about creating an online community where people share their stories and encourage one another to build resilience and endurance and choose to live bravely and confidently when life is hard.


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Megan: Hello and welcome to Megan's Social Media Marketing Show. I am so excited today to have Becky McCoy with me. She has a really great story to share about a viral post of hers, but before we dig into that,  thank you so much for being here, Becky. 

Becky: Yay. I love your podcast. So I was super pumped when we started talking about this and then we were like, wait a minute, more people need to hear this conversation.

Megan: Absolutely. Uh, Becky's in my Instagram challenge group. And we've been talking a lot about honing in your content to a specific person that is your audience or representative of your audience. So, Becky first, before we dig into that, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do? 

Becky: Yeah. I am a writer and a speaker and I host retreats and all sorts of both virtually and online. I'm a little annoyed that I started doing virtual retreats, like years before COVID and COVID happened to be the year that I took off, like, but I encourage women, uh, to. Just to discover what it looks like for them to live through some really hard times whether it be grief, mental illness, those are the things that I specifically have learned to deal with.

I have had anxiety and depression, my whole life and among other things my dad passed away  eight hours after my son was born and we were on opposite. Sides of the country. And then two years later, my husband died a month before my daughter was born. So, not that grief is like a hobby, but kind of at this point, because those are just two of the many, I mean, like I lost my first grandparent when I was three or four and it's just been a lifetime of losing people and learning to figure out how.

I don't like the phrase do that. Well, because  I mean, that makes it sound like the goal is to lose people. But 

Megan: it's not something you want a great amount of experience in, 

Becky: but how to grieve in a healthy way that leads towards growth and healing. And not that kind of ruins your life for ever.

And I've podcasts it's on,  hiatus at the moment. But yeah, Sucker Punched his stories of people doing that exact thing. 

Megan: Mm. And if you haven't been able to tell from the title of her podcast, one thing I love about Becky is that she not only helps you through the hard things in grief and, but in a very relatable and funny way.

Becky: It's. Yeah. And, and that's been like a relatively new thing for me. Hmm. I mean, I've been writing and speaking on this stuff more as more than just a hobby for like six to eight years now. And there was just kind of this. This pull that, like, when we talk about anxiety and depression, or when we talk about grief, it has to be in this very palatable way because it makes people so uncomfortable and awkward.

And while that's true, there are those of us that cope through humor. And so during the last couple months I had to started just doodling, like. The very sweary phrases that come to mind. When I think about some of this stuff and being a single parent of two very independent and precocious children who often forget that I'm the adult and the parent, it doesn't occur to them.

That that, that means anything. And so like at the end of the day, just be so frazzled, like, and And so kind of doodling. These silly phrases was a way for me to kind of get that out. And one day I was like, I wonder what would happen if I post this figuring I'm probably going to lose every single person that's ever followed me.

Maybe like minus five or 10 friends that I know will think it's hilarious. But like, I don't know that there's like what's the word that I'm trying to think of? I don't not that I try and make myself palatable, but. Do people really want my sassy, whatever ness when we're talking about these hard things.

And so I posted them and people got really excited and people that I know, especially my mom was like, I love that. You're finally showing this part of you because you you've been so reserved. And, and there's this whole side of you that you're not sharing with your friends online. And so I've just been exploring that.

And then, especially with reels, that has been the best way to be able to say like, Hey, it's okay to, if you cope with humor because I do. And, and it's an easy way for us to say like, Hey, this doesn't feel good, or, Hey, this isn't helpful. Or This is the reality of my situation. And then my, my feed is the more resourceful kind of buttoned up.

The more tender parts maybe of, of my content. And then with the reels, I just come on. Don't filter at all. What I'm saying? 

Megan: I love that  you say that because I have felt that as well with real it's like, it's a way for me to tap into parts that I can't ex I can't. Exercise in other areas of social media dancing for one and being humorous and silly and making little characters and that kind of thing.

That is completely welcome. And. Loved on in that format. But would be really weird in other ones probably. 

Becky: And I found it like really easy to take the content from my feed and make a Reel, that's like the sassy, silly version of that exact same content. So it's not even like I have multiple content calendars going or like it's not.

More work because the reels are just fun. Yeah. Those are just for me. 

Megan: Oh, I also love that. You said that. I don't know if you said this exactly. But what I took from it was it helped you to be a more whole person and to more authentically show up in this online space and not feel like you were editing yourself or.

I guess it's also freeing in a way, because then you, you don't feel like I have to be the sober and somber one all the time. 

Becky: It's definitely that like, it's like, I, I was not sure that my whole self would be welcome in the space of talking about suffering. And yet I have found time and time again.

That when I don't stop to think, like, this is one viral post, like it was, I was just tired. My hair was a hot mess. Like. I had on a ratty t-shirt it was just sitting in my bed and I was like, I need to get something off my chest and just made a real and pumps to that. And it just went totally viral in ways that I never. Could have anticipated. 

Megan: That's great. Okay. So number one, we'll wrap up that thought is that I think people also don't like social media in some, in some ways, because they don't feel like they can show up in their full, authentic selves, but it's not necessarily the fact that they can't, it's just that they need to find a way to do it.

That makes sense for the platform. So reels have opened that up for a lot of us who are. A little more flamboyant 

behind the scenes, performing arts backgrounds and

for sure. So. Tell us from the beginning you started, but tell us about this viral post. What happened? How, how you thought about it and then, huh. 

Becky: So I'm even pulling up our, our DMS from Instagram because then I have like dates. There you go. Time stamps 

Megan: because my kids make me the whole time. Oh my gosh.

You won't believe this. 

Becky: Yeah. One, one message somewhere in there is like, I apologize if I'm totally blowing up your phone because I am, but this is wild. Yeah. So March 28. Uh, you can look at my reel. It's still there. And my hair is hot mess express. I had my blue light glasses. Like I just threw them on my head because my hair was such a hot mess, but they're not even on straight.

Like there is nothing there's zero preparation involved and basically. I just threw out there, like here, all the awkward things people said at my husband's funeral, and some of them are very awkward and maybe like, could be appropriate in different settings, but in the receiving line at a 29 year old eight months pregnant, well, I, the baby was almost a month old by the time the funeral happened, but I was eight months pregnant when he died.

Like, this is not the time nor place. Awkward just say hello, and I'm sorry for your loss and moving on. Right? 

Megan: Well, and I think it's important to note that was the inspiration, the TIG talk trend. Which came first, or did you 

Becky: say there was the Vanessa Carlton song where people are doing like texts from my husband, his inspirational posters or like things my dad says when he comes to visit as inspirational posters.

So then I do awkward things. My people said to me at my husband's funeral as inspirational posters and put all these awkward things. One of them being, let me know if you need anything. Which we'll get to in a minute. So my first message to Megan is all 3000 views in one and a half hours. And usually over the course of the first week or two, my reels will hit up to about 3000 followers.

So that number isn't like wild for me, but for it to be in and hour and a half was like mind blown. So then I was like, okay, I'm going to experiment this week and see with all the tick-tock trends and see what else I can make work. And I've been doing that. And it's been really fun because I don't have to come up with things.

I just figure out what the trends are and how it applies to my content. 

Megan: Yeah. Oh, when I love that tip, by the way, let me just settle on that tip for a second. In case you missed it. Is it's super easy in tic-tac they give you the trends. There's literally a page with all of the trends and you can look at them and see how people are using them and take them for your own inspiration.

And that's a 

Becky: fantastic way. Yeah. There are social media marketers on Tik TOK whose entire feed is, this is a trend. Here's how to do it. This is a trend. Here's how to do it. And so it's. Pretty easy for those of us that are not wanting to put in a lot of effort into reels and tech docs. Yeah. So the next week or the next day, I'm like, I'm losing so many followers.

I start, usually it's a few a week, especially as I tend to get a little bit more sassy and like let that out. People are like, Oh, we don't, we're not uncomfortable. And so, which is fine. But I just started losing like dozens of followers and then it was like, At this point, I was at maybe 1300 followers and I lost like 25 or 30 in that first 24 hours.

So like percentage wise, that's a pretty decent amount of people that just like peaced out. And by the second day I was up to 5,000 views, which I'm like, Whoa, Holy cow, mega viral. But then. It kinda like slowed down at that point. And then the comments started coming where people are like, you need to stop shaming people.

They're just trying to be helpful in kind and. So then, Oh, then I send Megan screenshots of the silly comments that people have. And I won't read them because that's not nice, but, uh, they did give me a good giggle because people were missing the point because satire and humor is satire and humor. It is not shaming.

Anyone didn't call anybody out by name. Didn't hint at anyone who said anything, made it very clear that like, it's just an awkward thing that somebody said, it's not like the end of the world. Didn't put anybody out of my life. Like just awkward. 

Megan: So I want to note that that was a wonderful mental health and mindset thing to approach those comments as such, because you were secure and knowing why you posted that and how, and you were very conscious about.

The things that you just said, making sure nobody could have recognized the statement from what you know, and this is several years removed. So this isn't like, this person just said this to you the last week. 

Becky: Yeah, no. And by this point, because I'd seen that it was going viral. I had made a few followup videos, like helpful things people said at my husband's funeral as inspirational posters.

And here's why, let me know if you need anything isn't as helpful as you think that it is. Hmm. And so if anyone who felt really offended by this one video had just gone and looked in my feed, they would have seen that I am not here to make fun of people, or like that's not the tone that is set by all of my content, but we know that people don't use social media 

Megan: that way.

No. So how did you handle those comments? So what did you like practically? What did you do? Did you leave them alone? Did you delete some, did you respond?

Becky: The first few days? I would respond and I would either say people mean well, but that doesn't mean it's my responsibility. Like people would say like, Oh, you know, they mean really well.

And it's just so that you know who to ask for help later. I'm like, you know what, no one when they're in that situation has the capacity to remember the 500 people that were at my husband's funeral because every single one of them said this, I nobody's standing there taking notes. Of who's offering to help besides the fact that half the time when you do ask for help, people didn't actually mean it.

And so how do you figure out who actually meant it when you are a widow with a one month old and a two year old? You did not have the time or energy or capacity to figure out who really meant it and who didn't. And that's true with when my dad died, my mom was in her early fifties. She didn't have the capacity to figure out who meant it and she didn't have a newborn and a toddler.

Right. Like, so it's just like, it's, the intent is wonderful, but ultimately it's not as kind as it feels. Because it's creating work for the person who's grieving. And so I would either respond kind of with like a short version of that. If the person had said, I say these things a lot, what should I say instead?

Or I say it because I don't know what else to say. So they very clearly want to understand and do better. And then the people who are just like. This is terrible. You're so mean. Well, maybe instead of using your energy and time to shame people on the internet, you should just like be grateful. You have people in your life and that's like the, Oh, they were really hurt by someone.

At some point they feel really called out. I'm just going to say like, Hey, you can check out my other videos moving on. Right. 'cause it, it, it made it so clear that. My content is not for everyone. Not everybody wants to, or naturally copes through humor. And most people on social media are not emotionally mature enough to recognize, Oh, maybe this content isn't for me.

And I can just scroll past it. And I don't have to shame the content creator for not serving me when I'm not even the person that they're trying to serve. 

Megan: Right. Yeah. Yeah. And I will say that you posted this same one on both takes on in Instagram and how, how did it do on comparatively? 

Becky: So on Tik TOK it's I think it went up to like 11,000, which I was like, Holy moly.

But then it stopped there. So then two days after I had posted. As a reel on Instagram, somehow it caught the algorithm. Got really excited about it because I bumped up to 48,000. So that's when I started maybe not replying to all the comments, because I didn't want to set a precedent that I'm going to spend my time, my day on my phone, replying to people who don't deserve my time.

Megan: Because we're talking of comments. 

Becky: Yeah. I mean, yeah, like it was a lot like, okay, I've now hit my limit. We're not having conversations here anymore. People are just commenting to throw their 2 cents and I can like it if I agree with it and I can ignore it if I don't. Yeah. So yeah, so it went up to almost 50.

And then a few days later it like went up to 80. So it was kind of like spike, plateau, spike, plateau. And 

Megan: then you can tell when it started serving it to people again.

Becky:  Yeah. Like watching the cycle happen a few days late. Oh no. The end of that day where it went up to 80, K it like. I'm like, you know what I think by the time we talk on the podcast, it's going to go up to a hundred.

Well, over the next couple of days it went over a hundred and it kept going up and it kept going up. The next week it hit 150 and then by. Two days ago. So that was the end of March that I initially posted it by the end of the first week of April, it had hit a hundred thousand and now we're towards the end of April.

And it finally plateaued at just over 350,000. And it's wild because again, like I did no preparation. I was just being really sassy and needed to let off some steam. It just like, you know, went crazy. And, but it's been really great to discover how I respond to the people who it's not for, because I think a year or two years ago, I knew who it was for, but I still.

Would be so disappointed when people were mad that I hadn't taken their needs into consideration too, even if they're total strangers and how could I have known what they needed on.

Yeah. So was there any discernible cool change? You said initially you lost dozens of followers. Has there been like a little more than a month out, six weeks from that post what's happened on your account since. 

Yeah. So initially I was just laughing hysterically at how many people were unfollowing me, because like, okay, I guess we, now, you know who your people are fine.

You can go. Cause I'm not planning to like go back into my shell. What does it, there's that one meme or Jeff of from Charlie and the chocolate factory where one of the kids gets taken away and Willy Wonka is like, Oh no, don't go. Like, that's exactly how I'm like, bummer. I'm sorry, this isn't helpful for you, but is who I am and the, that.

 But I. I gained at least 200 followers. Okay. And again, that's, I didn't plan to make the Reel I didn't, it wasn't good lighting. I didn't have a cute outfit on, I have my end of the day tired mom here, like, so it's just been like really bizarre how none of it has been in my control. Oh, no. Right.

Like I didn't the ones that I spend more time on. Like people enjoy them too, but they're not the one that the algorithm just had decided to have a play date with. 

Megan: Yeah. Well, and I'll say. I mean, I did the same real trend and put it, and it did nothing for me, which it wasn't the message that whatever I chose to do it wasn't, you know, it wasn't the timing.

It wasn't the people, it was all that. I'm not saying that to be, you know, I'm just saying like, it doesn't mean that if you had followed the same. Formula is someone else that you will also go viral. Like it doesn't work that way. 

Becky: It just happened to be that the right people saved it or shared it at the right time.

And the algorithm happened to be paying attention. And here we are,

Megan:  it is absolutely nothing you can control or orchestrate. Uh, you can try, you know, there are, there are. Ways of doing things for shock value that some you can tell a lot of times people are just doing it for shock value to get potentially a viral, viral post.

And that's a lot of times what sometimes I don't say a lot of times, but If you're commenting. I mean, the ways that in a good way to get a viral post, uh, I feel like are, are commenting. Like you did. You're like you have there's this trend. And you're like, you know what, there's this thing of at me. And again, I just a perfect match here.

I think this is the time to whip this out. Cause it was probably things that you've wanted to say, but there was just never really like, like this doesn't feel right that this isn't the right moment, but. This was the perfect venue to, uh, deliver it with humor and in a way that was honoring to those people too.

And wasn't shaming, like I said, it was, it was representative of the rest of your posts and your content. So, uh, that's one way. And like I said, another way is like shock value, doing something bizarre or taking a bigger stream. Position on a very occurrence event. And a lot of times when this is why I'm such a big proponent of keeping to what you do on your platform all the time.

Like a lot of times there are things that people want to comment on, but like they have a strong opinion about, but it's not necessarily in their wheelhouse or what they normally share about. It's just like, well, people need to know this and they do that and it goes viral. But then. They, it does their account.

No good. Like you said, people start on following and all of that because they're like, Oh, now they're talking about this. Now this is not why I'm here. You know? So it can, it can be a negative thing if you're going for viral. Like, if that's just. Your whole, you know, if I'm doing something outside of what I'm normally do for that purpose, but you were like, okay, this goes with, this is what I've been it's within what I usually talk about.

It's something I've wanted to talk about it. Something I think people need to know about you followed up with other posts and information to support that. So if they that's, what I love about this situation too, is that you gave them more once they got to your account too. Fully, uh, to D dig deeper into the topic.

Yeah, and to serve them even more. So that was, I feel like the ideal situation. And even though you couldn't have orchestrated that, uh, you have a much, your people now are much more your people and you know that like you have a stronger, tighter knit community. That's more geared that is there for you. Is there for what you're, you're gonna serve loan.

So, it was a given situation. I feel like in Europe. Yeah. 

Becky: And it's interesting too, like if you look through my content, I'm already saying the things that I said in the Reel like, I have a whole content bucket. That's just unhelpful things people say and what I wish I could say to them. Right. So it's, I wasn't saying anything new.

It was just putting it all in one post and not. Not making it quite so buttoned up and nice looking and shareable. And like, it was the more entertaining version of the same educational content that I have on my feet. 

Megan: Yes. Yeah. That's a good point too, is there's different types of content and different ways to deliver our messages and.

You need a variety of that on your, on your platform so that people can not only like reels are a great example of engaging outreach type of content. They're very, they're snack size, they're bite size, they're little things that people can consume very quickly, but you also need. Meals, you need really a nutritious.

If I'm going to keep with the food analogy, nutritious content, they can really dig into. And even from there also having content that fought like. This is, this is a synopsis of something that I delve way deep into on my website or on my podcast. Or you can come to my retreat if you really need a lot of this type of thing.

But so having the variety there, there's different goals and purposes for each of those types of content. But if you have you create only reels with only just that little bit of information, they'll come to it. They'll be like, Oh cool. But they're not going to. Stay, and you're not going to be able to serve them and help them very well, uh, with that.

So I love that you, you inherently understood that. We're like, okay, I'm a Reel generating machine now. That's what I do, you know? Yeah. Great. Well, I would love to help support you if you could tell anybody, watching or listening to this, where Becky, that they can find you. So hopefully if they also desire to, , you know, a lot more, if they want to hear more about dealing with grief and the hard things of life, where do they go?

Becky: My website is Becky L And I'm on Instagram, mostly Instagram on Twitter, some but mostly Instagram at Becky L McCoy. And then my podcast is Sucker Punched and you can find me any of those places. 

Wonderful. Well, thanks so much for being here. This was, yeah. It's so fun to talk about deep dive and not just DM one another 

record in Megan's DM.

Megan: Wonderful. All right. Thanks so much, 

Becky: Becky. Thanks again.