Do me a favor.
If you have a financial consultant of some sort, visit their website. If they have a blog, search for “funding retirement by playing the lottery.”
Find anything? Did they pen an e-book, create an infographic, record a podcast or video on the subject? No? Why not?
Because it’s not a valid investment strategy.
The same is true of viral content. Having a post go viral is not a sound content marketing strategy.
Don’t believe me? let’s look at some of the things that have gone viral in the last few years:
- A dress of indeterminable color
- A woman wearing a Chewbacca mask laughing
- A site where you could create an avatar of yourself Mad Men style, oh and (bonus!) you could pick where your avatar was hanging out
- A guy who answered questions dressed in his underwear
If you’re still with me and haven’t already handed in your human card, opting to go live with the apes because they have a finer appreciation for “good” content, then you should begin to see why I don’t believe you should shoot for viral.
Viral Content Bends to the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
While we all claim to be deliriously busy, we spend hours in front of television each night or lose entire weekends to binge-watching shows about fictional presidents and then don’t bother to vote. We wouldn’t dream of missing an episode from our favorite zombie show but then turn ourselves into zombies by chasing after fake creatures on our phones.
We’re not rational.
We don’t make rational decisions. Not when we’re buying. Not when we’re deciding how to spend our day. Not when choosing what content to share.
As a marketer, or someone who’s trying their hand at marketing, you can’t create a strategy around something as unpredictable as a lightning strike, winning the lottery, or the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
What Can You Do to Get More Views and Shares on Your Content?
Give them what they want, whatever your ideal customer needs, longs for, desires. Create content around that. It may not catch on with the same fire-starter speed of whatever caught Drew Barrymore’s eye in that movie from the ’80s (what was it called?) but it will get shared, and your site will likely get marked as a resource if you continually provide great content. But….
Build an audience. Creating amazing content your audience loves only works if they know it’s out there. You need to use social media to build an audience so that you have a great number of people sharing your content. This may involve paying for views. Facebook has created an advertising tool that lets you get very granular in audience selection so as to place your content in front of the right eyes, not just any views.
Give your audience something to do. You built an audience, you’ve created awesome content but if you don’t ask, you wont receive. You must give them something to do. You see these types of requests a lot because they work:
“If you like what you’re seeing, join our email list.”
Allowing someone to come to your site, digest your content, and letting them leave without asking anything of them, is like smiling at someone at a drive-thru window and then getting upset they didn’t ask you out. You need to ask them to do something or give them something to do, otherwise they’re just passing through.
So give up the dreams of viral content by trying to understand the whims of the masses (after all, that’s the very design behind the “protection” of the electoral college, right?). Instead, concentrate on finding and building your audience, creating content that interests them, making sure they see it, and asking them to be a part of something bigger. That’s the way you win them over and keep them coming back.
Or ignore me and spend your afternoon taking pictures of articles of clothing in different lighting.