Single facebook post got my startup viral coverage across the world

Herbert Eng
Apr 10, 2017 · 4 min read

Even as far as Russia, which brought us over 20 signups from Russia alone in a single day (~70 in total). Some sites even bothered to cover us twice. Signups on our mailing list tripled in less than three days. There’s even a petition to ban the app!

All publicity is good publicity, especially if deliberately engineered. Here’s a nonexhaustive list of the coverage.

Globally: BBC, Mashable, e27, Elite Daily, Yahoo, Global Dating Insights

Singapore: The New Paper, Stomp, Yellowpages, Vulcan Post, CLEO, Her World Plus, Coconuts, Popspoken, Goody Feed, MustShareNews, AllSingaporeStuff

You should check it out yourself, they aren’t all jumping onto the outrage bandwagon and slamming my app. Some of them are pretty well thought-out and get closer to where I want sociality to be and what I want my Art to elicit in people. Yes, this is all part of an elaborate Art. The outrage is intended, not just for outrage marketing, but the people with whom it manifests in — those people are part of my composition. Also, I wanted to educate people on Slavoj Zizek’s ideas about combating racism — the best way is to confront it head-on without political correctness!


To cap it off, I was also interviewed by AugustMan and The Straits Times for forthcoming articles that would accompany our public release of the app. Typically, social apps with no traction don’t receive this kind of coverage, and they would not be able to work the exposure in deterministically as part of launch marketing. Extra exposure is also extra leverage in compelling other business partnerships.

Creating the ad took me five minutes using Canva:

Got you mad bro?

Besides being talked about on Hardwarezone and being on Malaysia’s lowyatnet, HighBlood got to the top of Reddit Singapore and amassed 305 upvotes and 152 comments along the way. We also “hacked” Mashable's social signatures and the post had nearly 1000 shares!

Outrage marketing is nothing new in Singapore. Xiaxue is probably the grandmother of outrage marketing (more like outrage branding) though this is likely the first time a startup used it to maximal effect even before the product is released. We’re also getting positive comments now after brave souls have made their opinions known after the emotion-driven furore.

Forget everything you learnt in school

Nothing learnt in orthodox marketing complies much with what I did. It was a full week between whence I made the post and whence the viral wave started. I don’t know for sure who was patient zero and how the viral cascade vectored after germinating but if I were to hazard a guess, it was probably after I went down to NTU ADM looking for someone to help out with our Snapchat Nudes ArtExpo:

A student there got really infuriated that I approached her group of friends and reprimanded me. She said that I “should have done my homework” — typical Singaporean bureaucracy response. They probably shared our ad on their social medias after. Whatever happened to Universities being places of spontaneous collaboration? Nothing worked for us, that’s why I’m ploughing the ground by being, well, on the ground. To create controversy and germinate the fabled holy grail of a viral cascade — don’t just stick to being harmonious, one should indeed court trouble and ruffle some feathers.

Resist having to be harmonious

There’s this intuitive need for new startups to adopt a clean, artificially sanitized image and to constantly preserve that facade — this public relations strategy is incredibly fragilistic. One of the most capable fundraisers in the global social apps scene is Krystal Choo of the Wander app — she raised 500K without a product and without traction — which means investors believed in her enough to give her money to build the product (it sucked) and execute. Most people justify it by the trendy and attractive image she confers — this was the first thing people say when I asked them about her. I couldn’t manage that no matter how brilliant my pitch was for either my first app Fessup or the current project. I realized I should stop playing the game in ways that won’t get me a lot of mileage in terms of attracting media attention or investor interest. One should create his or her own hallmarks about the brand. Being piratical and exposing hypocrisy were mine — and I own them.

You should think of your reputation as being antifragile — to gain from negative publicity in terms of notoriety, just like a pirate lord would, rather than your brand image being hurt because of negative publicity. Once you reframe your reputation this way, it becomes dispositionally easier to attract media and thereafter direct prevailing sentiment in your favor. In the grand scheme of things, I am harnessing mass outrage to attract those who would be interested in my product the most.

To keep tabs on my journey — you may follow me on Twitter or on Facebook.

Herbert Eng

Written by

I make social apps with an intelligent flavor. is the world’s first dating app where you can swipe based on verified information e.g. income.

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