I Got Double the Likes for a Local Hero Than I Ever Got Before

The Medium is the Message

John Warner
Control Your Destiny


F-86 Sabre Jet at Major Rudolf Anderson Memorial— Image by the author

I’m a pretty good amateur photographer living in the beautiful town of Greenville, SC. We have a wonderful 120 acre Cleveland Park downtown that I walk through regularly.

Our Local Hero — Major Rudolf Anderson

The park has a memorial to favorite son Major Rudolf Anderson, the only American killed during the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis. His death may have prevented a nuclear war that killed millions of people. Justifiably there is a lot of local pride in the ultimate sacrifice Major Anderson made for his country.

U-2 wreckage in Havanna, Cuba — Image courtesy of Scott Townes

Unfortunately, Greenville doesn’t have Major Anderson’s U-2 spy plane that was shot down by the Cubans. The wreckage of that plane is on display in Havanna.

Our memorial to Anderson is a Korean War-era F-86 Sabre Jet like ones he flew on combat missions. A couple of weeks ago I walked by the memorial in the dark when the lighting of the plane struck me as cool.

F-86 Sabre Jet at Major Anderson Memorial — Image by the author

A fun hobby

I made a mental note and returned last weekend to capture an image of the plane still lighted when the sky was royal blue right before sunrise.

Snapping photos on my daily walks is a fun hobby for me. I post images to my individual Facebook feed and to a Facebook group called GREENVILLE SC NATIVES. A clue to the age of most group members is the admins asking, “Are you a Native of Greenville, SC? Are we a Dying Breed?” The group is active with over 31,000 members.

Monday morning I posted my image of the F-86 Sabre Jet in Cleveland Park to my individual Facebook feed and to the Facebook group. A day later the difference in the response is amazing.

The medium is the message

In my individual Facebook feed, 17 of my personal friends liked the image and 1 commented.

In the Facebook group, 650 people liked the photo, with 129 of them commenting and 29 sharing it.

This is a great illustration of the maxim that the medium is the message. There are a lot more people who saw the image in the Facebook group than saw it on my individual feed.

That alone doesn’t explain the likes. I have posted to this group before and gotten 300 likes for an image. The likes of this image are double the likes I have gotten before.

From the comments, it is clear that many older Greenville natives have personal stories about the memorial. Many had parents or grandparents who took them to see the memorial as children. Several actually knew Major Anderson or his family. One went to the memorial alone to blow Taps to honor Major Anderson. Another asked the city to allow him to clean off the moss growing on the airplane. People on social media respond to emotional stories they relate to personally.

The dark side of social media also reared its ugly head. I intentionally went to the memorial in the dark one morning to take the photograph because I was inspired by the atmosphere I knew would appear at sunrise. I wanted to capture and share that beauty with others.

At one point the comments turned political. One fellow started an argument complaining about taking down Confederate monuments and claiming “that liberals will be offended by it and call it a sign of hate.” Someone else responded, “Speaking on behalf of liberals around the Upstate, you don’t get it.” The argument went downhill from there. Really people??!! I posted a picture of an airplane for you to enjoy. Give it a rest.

Lessons learned

There are important lessons I've learned from this about digital marketing.

Willy Horton robbed banks because that’s where the money is. I need to be marketing digitally where my target prospects already are.

Images on social media are powerful and attract people’s attention when they are scrolling through their feed. Once you have their attention, maybe they’ll read what you've written, but you have to get their attention first.

People on social media respond strongly to stories they relate to emotionally. That’s true even when they provide the stories themselves, as they did in this case when they saw this image. My experience is many fewer people on social media respond when ideas are more abstract and impersonal.

While I can’t validate this, I’m sure Facebook algorithms recognize momentum. As more people like the photo, it shows up in the feeds of more people, some of whom like it, which stimulates the algorithm to place it in more people's news feeds. To a certain extent, this becomes a self-reinforcing circular feedback loop.

Luck counts. I post a photo without comment on Facebook most mornings. It’s a hobby I enjoy. People liking my photos is an addiction that stimulates serotonin in my brain and makes me feel good. Monday morning when I selected the photo to post to Facebook, I had no idea this image would resonate the way it did.

Consistency counts. I've developed a bit of a reputation in this group for posting cool pictures of my walks through beautiful downtown Greenville. In responding to the political argument that broke out, Jan commented, “Keep posting…try & ignore those people. I love your pics!”

Roger that, Jan. Thanks for your encouragement. Will do.



John Warner
Control Your Destiny

Serial entrepreneur sharing 40 years of insights to control your destiny in our turbulent times