Over the last couple of years I’ve seen and heard a lot of people talking about wanting to “go viral” – you know having their video or marketing plan take off and get millions of hits, likes or retweets almost over night. I’ve seen people ask how to get their videos to go viral. I’ve seen people post ads looking for someone who can take their company’s marketing plan and make it go viral. I’ve also seen people try to explain, some of them very eloquently, that it’s not that easy. Here’s my take on it.
Looking for the answers to “viral” content.
Going viral is a lot harder than it looks. It’s not like a cold virus where you know what the cause is and the things you can do to avoid it (or catch it if you’re into that). A virus can spread quickly through an office or a home, so can viral content. The difference is the virus likes everyone, viral content is dependent on people liking it.
Yes, you can do some research and find similarities between things that go viral, and develop an equation for “viral” but it can’t take into account that certain spark. That something that makes people connect with the content. Viral content is like that person who just has something about them that draws people to them – you can’t put your finger on what it is, you just know it’s there.
Most viral content has something new or fresh about it. It often has an emotional aspect that people can connect with. Or it could be something funny (this is probably the most difficult to define or copy because the harder most people try to be funny the less they are). What goes viral today may not work on any other day, which is why I think some videos are posted for months or even years before it suddenly strikes a chord with people. Viral content depends on the moods, likes, dislikes, wants, needs, loves, hates, strengths, weaknesses and more of millions of people lining up exactly right.
I know there are people out there who are willing to sell you the secret to going viral. They make all kinds of promises. They offer workshops, seminars and emailed advice for an amazing low price. But if you read the fine print, they don’t guarantee anything. They know there are too many intangibles to viral content to make you a guarantee you’ll go viral. Sure they might have some great ideas, but that doesn’t translate to viral content. It’s just like anything else, if they’re making you promises about viral content that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So how do you go viral? Honestly, I don’t know. I think you develop content that appeals to you and your audience. Work on your message. Make it fun and interesting or the people you’re trying to communicate with. If you’re lucky you’ll find that magical something that catches hold of people like a new virus sweep the world.