"Make this go viral"

May 11, 2014

Make this Go Viral, AM-Insider article by Sarah Ritchie

Have you ever had a client ask you to make something "go viral"? A video? A Facebook post? A guerrilla tactic? I remember, once, sitting in a meeting with a client whose main aim it was to think of an idea that would "go viral" before we had even had a basic strategic discussion.

The good news, O Account Manager, is that you will never, ever, be able to "make" something go viral, so you can now relax a bit. 

The good news is that you will never, ever, be able to "make" something go viral, so you can now relax a bit. – Sarah Ritchie



Let's look at what "virality" actually means:

The tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another; the quality or fact of being viral. [Google]

Going viral is great, and typically means that your campaign will get a huge amount of exposure with little cost or effort. It can mean more connections, more sales and more influence over your audience. The traffic will translate into better search engine rankings and help build brand awareness.

Here is how that practically translates on the web:

  (copyright: Adam Mordecai)   

In fact, for one of the best articles I have read about what going viral means and how you can create content that has the best chance of going viral, check out Adam Mordecai's SlideShare article HERE. The reality is, though, that nobody has a the secret formula to virality, and that's the whole point - most things go viral by accident.

If you'd like to see examples of the latest viral trends, here is a list of 10 sites that will tell you what is trending and smokin' hot right now.

Now, back to us Account Managers. We want to do the best for our client and their campaign (we will be judged on the results, after all). The probability that your campaign content will go viral is so small, that it would be foolish to make virality the primary aim (though, for sure keep it in mind when you are crafting your campaign content).

One thing to keep in mind is that viral popularity does not always equal a positive outcome. As soon as your content becomes viral, you are no longer in control of how, where or when the content will spread or how people will react. Any attempt to fight or control viral material is virtually useless, and all you'll be able to do is wait it out and then deal with any consequences (positive or negative).

Though it would be great to have your Facebook post, ad or YouTube video suddenly fly around the world as an overnight success, you still need a solid marketing and advertising plan. This means keeping things under your influence and control. It involves a solid base of strategic planning and consideration based on research, knowledge and skill.

Keep doing the Marketing 101 basics really well. If the content you are creating achieves your marketing objectives and goals, plus if it's:

  • creative
  • fun
  • emotive
  • weird
  • wacky
  • ugly
  • sensational
  • unbelievable
  • random
  • or cute

...then go for it!


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