Kevin’s Walk: By The Numbers

Ahh, commencement season. The university finish line.

If there’s anything we should do justice to as higher education social media strategists, it’s commencement. We do it big, because it is big. So we started planning out our content weeks prior and hoped that we might hit the 1 million people reached mark over the span of the week. We created videos, photos, stories, live coverage, and more, and the response was good. We hit that mark. But the real surprise came the week following commencement, when we shared a video clip of Kevin Hoyt walking across the stage to accept his diploma. We didn’t produce the footage — honestly, we didn’t have anything to do with this piece other than pushing it out through the CSU social channels. And it blew. up.

The video clip had all the right ingredients to kindle a social flame. It was short and consumable, raw and emotional, and it was relevant to the massive trend of graduations happening all over the world. You see, Kevin overcame paralysis through a driven determination to walk across the stage and accept his diploma. What’s not to love about that? It’s inspiring, awesome, and exciting — high arousal emotions that ignite social shares.

Last month, I wrote about analytics being the bloodstream of a social strategy, indicating the vitality of a brand. After posting Kevin’s Walk, our brand burst into life with a pulse as lively as ever, and the post quickly became our most successful piece of content of all time.

Here’s some context to demonstrate just how incredibly Kevin’s Walk performed on our channels.

The post has reached 5,217,759 people.

On average, data since July 1, 2016, show that we could expect a video post to reach roughly 112,428 people. Kevin’s Walk reached, you know, a mere 4,541% more people than what is typical. 😳

In fact, our Facebook page has only ever reached more than 1 million people with a single post once before, and that post barely passed the mark of 2 million people. This post didn’t just casually become our new all-time top post. It blew all others out of the water, more than doubling the previous most-reached post.

The reach of 5,217,759 totals more than the combined populations of these states:

  • Montana
  • Delaware
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota
  • Alaska
  • Vermont

Reach, though, is one of those nebulous metrics. What we really need to know is whether a significant portion of those 5,217,759 people watched the video. As it turns out, they did.


Kevin’s Walk has been viewed 1,611,404 times (and counting). Of those views, 1.4 million are from unique viewers.

One million views had never happened for us before. Actually, we’ve only had three videos ever surpass 200K views, and the previous most-viewed video has somewhere around 600K views. This one got a million more than that. The unique viewership excites me most, because it means that only around 200K of the views were repeat views, the rest — 1.4 million — being from separate people around the world.

Pleasantly, the audience retention rate was, in my opinion, very high. The visual below demonstrates that 1:04 into the video, 25.5% of the audience was still tuned in.

The video was viewed for more than 826,642 minutes.

That’s 574 days.

If every single viewing session was strung out in succession, the video would have first been viewed in November 2015 — around the time of the tragic Paris attacks — and just now completed in June 2017. As frustrating as it can be to prove social media ROI, 574 days of brand awareness is absolutely a return we’re excited about.


The audience reached was atypical.

It’s common for a Colorado State social media post to be received by an overwhelmingly local base. It makes sense, really. Most folks wouldn’t be interested in what’s going on at a university they had no connection to. But this video has proven to resonate with a much broader, more diverse population. In looking at the graph to the right, we can see that the lighter shade of blue is the usual percentage of minutes viewed based on location. Colorado is a clear favorite. The dark blue bars, however, indicate viewership for Kevin’s Walk, and we see that only ~8% of minutes viewed came from within the state of Colorado. Combining this knowledge with previously discussed data, we’re able to understand that the Colorado State brand was visible to a large amount of people for a long amount of time from a variety of different locations. And the reactions were disproportionately positive (far right).

Kevin’s Walk is a testament to the power of emotion and the role it plays in social media. Seeing Kevin overcome hardship to achieve his personal goal was a wonderful thing that anybody could relate to. And without the vision of our video team and College of Business partners, the world would have missed the chance to experience such an amazing moment.