Trying to Go Viral? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

Creating content is hard. The pressures of creativity, reaching your audience, and hitting your metrics, as well as doing all three consistently, can present a challenge to even the most talented content creators. Everyone wants to go viral, but has anyone who created viral content done so on purpose? Trying to go viral is even harder than creating content. 

Here’s what to do instead!

How Do You Go Viral?

What kind of content goes viral?

”Wow” content: This is the kind of content that makes your jaw drop. Coincidentally, it’s the stuff that makes you want to share it. From stunning videos and photographs to unbelievable facts and figures, “wow” content is particularly effective at capturing attention. At the same time, it’s the most difficult kind of content to create organically. Examples: earth videos, breaking news, did you know?

Cute content: People love videos of puppies, cats, and babies. Seriously, what’s better on a rainy day than a cuteness overload? Like “wow” content, cute content has that indescribable quality that makes you want to share it with everyone. This kind of content isn’t tough to create–provided you have access to a kitten, puppy, baby, or anything else cute. Examples: animal videos, baby videos, emotional moments

Funny & relatable content: Somewhere between cute and “wow”, funny content is exactly what it sounds like: funny and relatable. Relatability is just as important as being funny–if your audience doesn’t relate to (or get) the joke, the message is wasted. This kind of content isn’t as difficult as “wow” content to create, but it’s not as easy as cute content either. Examples: interesting scenarios, jokes, humorous takes on everyday life. 

The takeaway?

Content that appeals to emotion is more likely to go viral. People want to smile, laugh, or cry. They also want to share those emotions with other people. The most viral content hits on all cylinders; invoking powerful emotions while simultaneously inspiring folks to take action–either by sharing said content or triggering the CTA (if there is one). The name of the game is engagement. If you can get your audience to feel something powerful, want to share it, and take action, you’ve created something viral!

Instead of Trying to Go Viral, Do This!

Remember, creating content is hard. Trying to go viral is even harder. Your customers can tell when you’re being authentic (and when you’re not), so creating content with the goal of going viral is going to set off some alarm bells. Not to mention, trying to go viral means you’re likely to ignore the reasons you’re creating content in the first place. With that said, with each piece of content you create, what is the goal? 

a robot and a human, symbolizing automated marketingInstead of trying to go viral, be consistent. Take the time to make each piece of content as professional as possible. Use brilliant photos and artwork, captivating videos, and compelling copy. Don’t slack on editing–sometimes a single image or word can make a huge difference! If you put in the effort to consistently produce first-rate content, your audience will thank you for it–both with their hearts and their wallets. 

While you may not be able to “go viral”, you can cultivate more engagement by asking questions, starting conversations, and finding new ways to solve problems. To that end, strive to make each piece of content part of a conversation. Encourage your audience to ask questions, give feedback, and get involved. The more you make your audience feel like a part of the brand, the more they’ll feel it too!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

All the content out there–and there are millions of pieces of it–is intended to get you to do something. Whether that something is to buy a product, take a specific action, feel an emotion, or something in between, it has to have a purpose. 

two people sitting around a targetDon’t create content just to create content. Create it with a goal in mind: not only should it target customer persona(s) but it should apply to a specific part of the customer journey. For instance, a blog series might be targeted toward small business owners in the awareness and interest stages. The more accurately you identify your customer personas and which stages they’re likely to be in, the more effective your content will be. 

While there are certainly some guidelines to help create more “viral” content, trying to go viral is a big no-no. It’s okay to push your content and ask your customers to like, share, subscribe, and follow, but it’s not okay to create something that doesn’t align with your brand values or identity simply because you think it will attract more sets of eyes. Before you publish anything, ask yourself: “does this reflect my brand values?” If the answer is no–or anything other than a resounding yes, try to create something else. 

Avoid saturating your audience’s feed with your content. While there is no limit on how much you can publish, sometimes less is more. Just like every piece of content should identify with your brand values, it should also add value. If it doesn’t check both boxes, it might not be worth publishing. Plus, you can build up demand for your content by publishing it less frequently. Look to find the right balance between quality and quantity.

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