Asbury University is located in Wilmore, Kentucky. With a population of 6,000 people and a location just outside of Lexington, most people have never heard of the small town, much less its small Christian college…until a few months ago that is.

Now, it seems everyone from the New York Times and CNN to the Daily Mail and People Magazine have featured a piece on the small university for a 24/7 service that drew thousands of people from around the world to the small town in February for what many are branding as the days of old school revivals in tents in the countryside.

While many will without a doubt talk about the faith of it all, the Asbury University Revival is also a powerful testament to the importance of organic reach and word of mouth.

This small-town university didn’t pay big dollars to advertise its revival service. No, it was word of mouth on social media that drew attention to a campus with less than 2,000 students. As The Week describes it, “Word of the movement meanwhile spread like wildfire on social media, encouraging thousands of pious hopefuls to trek to Asbury and join what many participants had dubbed a ‘revival.’”

Combined with an event that called to the faithful, tens of thousands drove overnight and flew halfway across the world to participate, all while developing a near-perfect formula for successful organic growth:

Personal Connection + Call to Action + Key Target Online Audience = Organic Reach

While the social media traffic generated worldwide attention, it’s not enough. As The Week article mentioned, social media posts “encouraged pious hopefuls” to come to the university chapel. There was a call to action targeting those who would be moved by such an occurrence. It targeted the faithful who would be pressed to join such a moment, in the same way, Catholics make the journey to see the Pope or Muslims revere the opportunity to travel to Mecca.

As with social media, trends become news stories. So while the main takeaway to the Asbury revival is faith, it also serves as a reminder that when you tap into the desires of your audience, they’ll come, bringing friends and strangers alike with them.