Going Viral

Think of the most ridiculous question you could ask a digital marketer, social media manager, content creator…or basically anyone with access to the social media platforms at your company. Know what it is?

“Can you make this go viral?”

(Cue eye roll from your entire marketing team.)

This question doesn’t come from a nasty place, but it’s hard not to react in a flabbergasted way. It comes from a lack of understanding of the digital realm, thinking that going viral is something that can be controlled. Just to be clear: it isn’t!

If everyone could make their content go viral there would be a saturation of viral content that would actually just be regular content and then we’d have a category of super viral stuff that would actually be the viral content. It literally doesn’t make sense and it’s just not possible.

The secret to going viral is that you don’t have much control over what content goes viral and what doesn’t. You may work your entire life and never have something go viral (sorry).  Sometimes you just get lucky and other times, there are things you can do to increase engagement with high quality content. This starts with strategy.

What’s More Important Than Going Viral?
First, your ultimate social media goal shouldn’t be to go viral. Your goal should be to create a strategy that increases engagement, awareness, positive interactions, and (ultimately) revenue for your business. If a piece of content goes viral along the way – even better!

Create Clever, Yet Practical Content. People like to read articles or view videos that share information that will enhance their lives, but they want to read about it in an interesting way. It’s important to get creative! Use punny language, incorporate high quality graphics, gifs, and videos into the practical information you are sharing – it’ll go a long way.

Be Relatable. No matter what you’re writing, write with a human voice. It’s hard enough to read an article or watch a video on an already boring topic, but if this delivery is dry, stale, and clinical you aren’t doing you or your content any favors.

Evoke Emotion. Whether it’s positive or negative emotions, content will always perform better if it makes the reader feel something. Whether it be sadness or happiness (or anything in between), more high-arousal emotional reactions typically lead to more shares and engagement.

Schedule Timely Shares. When sharing news, updates, or promotions it needs to happen in real-time, otherwise you’ll be left in the dust or miss out on big opportunities. When creating your social strategy, leave some wiggle room for spontaneous posts that need to be shared outside of what’s in the plan.

Put Sales Second. Posts that are sales oriented rarely go viral. People don’t want to be sold to, they want to be educated and entertained. If you create content that fosters trust and builds rapport, sales will follow naturally.

Just remember: going viral isn’t always a good thing. Don’t go viral for the wrong reasons! Often times viral content is absolutely cringeworthy. It’s when a company makes a big mistake and the social media community goes to town on mocking the mistake. Cue a thousand memes and reminders that will never let you forget what you did…until the next viral thing takes over, at least.