Want to Go Viral? Why Your Answer Should Be No…

Want to Go Viral? Why Your Answer Should Be No…

For better or worse, going viral is a viable approach to marketing…sort of. Having a video, photo, or article go viral essentially means that a large audience will see your content in a relatively small amount of time. Chances are you have considered the sweeping, but arguably narrow, approach to marketing for your own business. And who can blame you; after all, the notion of capturing a rapidly growing audience in a short period of time is certainly enticing, but before you sell your soul to the viral gods, take a moment to take stock on what ‘going viral’ actually entails, and more importantly, how it plays into your overall brand and the ever-evolving story that your business is telling.

What is Viral?

To consider what going viral means, let’s look at the word in its simplest form: virus. Like a virus, viral content starts out relatively small – i.e. a video shared on social media for your small group of followers. In a very short amount of time, that video will grow exponentially as a virus would, multiplying until it has thousands or even millions of views. Sounds great right? One small piece of content grows so rapidly that your brand gets seen by thousands, if not millions of people. In theory, yes, this is a cost effective way to gain exposure for your business, but only if the content is relevant to the story your brand is telling. Going viral is only going to have a lasting effect if it’s tailored to your brand, no matter how many likes, shares, or views you garner. It’s not always about the numbers.

It’s Not Always a Numbers Game

Let’s take a look at the numbers. Your hilarious video goes viral and gets thousands of views. Your photo of an adorable kitten gets 250 likes and 78 shares. Great! But what has that done for your business? Was the piece of content representative of your brand? Did it fit into the larger narrative of your business? Will you gain customers or loyal followers from it? If the answer is NO, than the numbers are not adding up in your favor. All the ‘likes’ in the world will not equate to more business or stronger brand awareness if the content being featured isn’t relative, which is why we going viral shouldn’t be your endgame.

Telling Your Story with an Endgame in Mind

Every piece of content you share should be with the story of your brand in mind. A crazy cat video is great (yes, for some reason we all love them), but if that’s all you are posting or if it’s not effectively tied to your business, what’s the point? The point should always be to relay to your followers and your customers that you have something unique to offer – that your business tells a story that is worth following and being a part of. If you can achieve that with a million views and thousands of likes, than great, but just don’t get lost in the numbers. Quality trumps quantity at the end of the day. Just as you strive to create a quality product for your target customers, you should strive to create quality content for your target audience.

Make it Happen

We’ve been preaching the #makeithappen mantra in 2016, so let’s take a moment to put our theory into practice. The trending issue the past few days – locally and across most of the Mid-Atlantic – has been Winter Storm Jonas. For our friends to the north, Jonas meant having several feet of snow dumped on them. On Delmarva, it was more about the insane winds and massive flooding. Both scenarios yielded plenty of chances for photos or videos to go viral. The question remains, how does your business take advantage of the opportunity without looking entirely opportunistic? Or, without making the mistake of going viral without actually playing to your brand. Simple. Let’s say you’re bar in Ocean City. Sharing photos of the flooding downtown is great…but sharing photos of your customers braving the elements in a canoe just to be able to still enjoy your establishment is even better. The viral story is someone canoeing down the street, but the underlying message is about your business. Subtle success.


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