Admit it. When you post a blog or social media post, you try to sex it up with a snappy subject line and a terrific image, hoping your post will go viral, reach a gazillion people and quickly bring you new fans. Everybody wants attention, more Likes, more comments and more page views.
But viral is temporal, there has to be some kind of shock value or it’s not going to achieve its goal. It’s a one-time thrill and it’s not sustainable. You can’t continue to produce at this level, so it really becomes meaningless. I’m thinking back to a few examples of posts that went viral.
- Snake in the toilet. One that got my attention a while back was the San Diego woman who flushed the toilet, looked back and found a 5-ft. boa constrictor emerging from the bowl. Anyone who’s afraid of snakes remembers this for the sheer horror of being alone in the bathroom with a deadly snake.
- Son shoots mother in the back. Yesterday a post that probably deserved to go viral was one about a Florida gun-rights activist whose 4-year old son shot her in the back with a loaded pistol. I suspect that the NRA, one of the strongest lobbies in Washington, won’t even bat an eye. We’ll forget this atrocity just as we forget the mass shootings in schools—until the next one.
- Puppy Monkey Baby. Remember the Puppy Monkey Baby ad from SuperBowl 50? Few even recall the product (Mountain Dew) it was promoting, but this amalgamated creature was just plain disturbing. Yet there have been more than 22 million views of the Puppy Monkey Baby commercial on Mountain Dew’s YouTube channel, most of the user comments are negative and the sentiment isn’t positive. Mountain Dew likely doesn’t care—they’re banking on “any news is good news”.
Going viral isn’t a content strategy
Going viral shouldn’t be something you plan for, nor is it something that’s easily replicated for long-term success. Most viral content has a very short shelf life. It’s the darling of the internet for a few days, a week, maybe two, then it’s gone. Our audience, with painfully short memories, quickly moves on to the next shocking thing.
Instead of viral marketing, focus on quality content
A better approach: Creating long-lasting content strategies that help your audience connect with your products/services. Focus on creating great content that people will enjoy reading and find helpful. Be smart, funny, share a story, highlight a new product or person. If you create useful content that your readers/fans/followers want to read, you’ll have achieved content marketing success.