MF 126 : Rachel Pedersen on Creating Social Media Posts that Go Viral and Move Forward
Updated: Jun 17
Rachel Pedersen is a social media strategist and entrepreneur who knows the art of creating viral posts. Today, Rachel will share her secrets for making your posts stand out while being true to your brand.
Successes at a glance:
Entrepreneur, social media strategist, founder at Rachel Pedersen.
Works with today’s top influencers and brands on social media strategy
Host of The Rachel Pedersen Show.
Creator of Social Media University.
Featured story on The Today Show.
The “small” ring Facebook post that went viral.
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
As detailed below, Rachel did not intend to become an entrepreneur. Rather, entrepreneurship found her. Her natural gift for bringing out the best in social media and captivating an audience was an extremely valuable skill. Before she knew it, she was building a side business, working with clients, helping them develop good social media skills. After 6 months as a sidepreneur, Rachel decided to make the leap and focus on her business, full-time.
While Rachel always had aspirations to do more and every signal told her it was time to become an entrepreneur, she candidly shares it was still very scary. Handing in your notice to your 9-5 job, which provides that steady paycheck isn’t easy and not something you do lightly. But Rachel knew her life was meant for more and her early successes, helping out clients on the side, confirmed this. And yet, Rachel had this natural fear that everything was going to fall apart. Rachel did not grow up in New York or California. She grew up in a place where entrepreneurship was neither encouraged nor thought of as a viable career path. Unfortunately, one of Rachel’s worst fears happened and pretty early on. The day after Rachel submitted her notice, she lost her biggest client. Rachel’s mind spiraled, imagining every worst case scenario. What kept her going, was having the encouragement of a partner who understood her choice. Moreover, Rachel eventually learned and accepted that this was part of every entrepreneurial journey or as she put it, “uncomfortable was the new comfortable.”
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
Rachel describes her transition into entrepreneurship as an “accident.” You can hear her light up as she describes social media as her forte and her “playground.” After having several posts go viral, people started approaching Rachel as clients. While Rachel never intended become an entrepreneur, much less in the social media space, the first taste of working with clients who valued her services and her insights made her “hungry” to continue down this path. As Rachel describes, this was the “itch” that let her know that “something bigger is happening.” Rachel was still working her 9-5 but steadily building up a client base on the side.
So where did it all begin? Growing up, Rachel always had this feeling that she would be “doing something that would … (fill in the blank).” While it took awhile to figure out the “blank,” what Rachel did know was that she was meant to do more than simply maintain a 9-5 job. Flash forward to when Rachel got on to social media. She discovered she not only took to it naturally but had a “really funny talent.” Rachel’s talent was the ability to connect with major figures and influencers. Imagine, you admire a talent or personality you see on TV, you follow them on social media. That’s pretty standard. But what Rachel was able to do, many can’t even imagine. She was able to turn a follow into a conversation into a connection and then into a friendship. On one occasion, Rachel, a self-avowed fan of the Bachelor, connected with the one the show’s producers and struck up a friendship that has spanned several years. Rachel came to the realization that not everyone can do this.
But as with life, entrepreneurship often is a long and windy road. Rachel worked for a time as a hairstylist, during which time her clients became her loyal, raving fans. Rachel started documenting the “before and after” of her work on Facebook and IG. This led to more customers coming in, requesting Rachel’s services. The most amazing part of this story is that Rachel wasn’t trying to become a social media expert. She just was doing what came naturally to her and leveraging social media as a way to connect and grow her client base.
As Rachel’s gift with social media continued to grow, so did the attention and resonance of her posts. All of this culminated into a now famous post that Rachel created in February 2016. Unlike the others though, Rachel intended this one to go viral. As she shares, something in her gut was telling her that this particular post would resonate. The subject of her post was her “small” wedding ring and why she never wants to upgrade it. Shortly after, the post reached 60k people! With just a few dollars ad spend, the post continued to grow over the next several months. Not only were people reacting to it, but they were sharing it and reposting it. The post reached critical mass with an astounding 11M+ views, along with a steady stream of comments. The post not only went viral, it caught the attention of The Today Show, which ended up doing a featured story on Rachel and the post. This was then picked up by over 30 online publications including Cosmopolitan, US Weekly, and Glamour.
This brings us back to when things seemed like they were falling apart. Rachel had left her job and just a day after giving notice, she lost her biggest client. How did she go from feeling like things were spiraling to finding her entrepreneurial groove? It didn’t happen overnight. As Rachel shares, it took about six months for her to realize that despite its unpredictability, entrepreneurship and taking the risk into her own hands was more stable than staying in a 9-5 lifestyle. There were two things that got her thru this difficult period. First, Rachel documented her feelings in a children’s book that she wrote about following your dream and the absurdity of all the “what ifs” that hold you back. The book concludes with the main character realizing that the only important “what if” is “what if you succeed.” Second, Rachel took her skills and created an online university to teach others how to leverage social media to gain new clients. Somewhat ironically, many of Rachel’s students were social media managers by profession and when they started to see big wins from what Rachel had to teach them, this gave her the positive reinforcement that this was her true mission. Failure was no longer a viable “what if” because Rachel now had people depending on her and her knowledge to help them grow their businesses.
Moving forward listeners, Rachel’s greatest gift to you on this episode is this one question: “what if you succeed.” We can come up with a thousand “what ifs” that hold us back from trying anything new. Given that we have a choice, isn’t it better that we choose the one question that allows us to move forward?
One tip for making sure your social media content aligns with you and your brand:
Make sure your post comes from you. The mindset hack Rachel shares is to write as if you are speaking with a friend over coffee. The minute you write as an “expert,” it will change your tone. So write as if speaking to a friend and this will keep your content and message perfectly aligned with your core.
Favorite app / website / resource or productivity hack:
Canva: an easy, user-friendly alternative to Photoshop that gives you the ability to create pdfs and beautiful social media posts.
Rachel’s hack: there are now beautiful ebook and 8×11 templates for you to create great lead magnets and ebooks for your landing page.
How Rachel recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Rachel takes a unique approach to roadblocks. Rather than take a break, she writes down several big goals she wants to accomplish and then starts tackling them. Rachel recharges by getting things done.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
Rachel would go back to visit herself when she was 22 years old and a single mom. She would tell herself that if you “continue to move forward and continue to take action it will all pay off.”
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“Consistent action pays off!”