Why I Will Never Write a Post on How to Create Viral Content

Don't think of viral content as a goal

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.

 

The mob is fickle, brother. He'll be forgotten in a month.

 

What Can You Do to Get More Views and Shares on Your Content?

Quite simply:

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.

3 Replies to “Why I Will Never Write a Post on How to Create Viral Content”

  1. Thanks for sharing the points,
    I also believe that some time when you are sure that topic on which you are writing your viral post is definitely going to be liked by the internet audience than yes we should go for this and do some controversy.

    And the points you have mentions are appropriate to attract the audience like-

    -Attractive title.
    -Using attractive images and videos
    -Great content which will make the visitor share your article
    etc.

    Thank You

    1. Thanks for the comments.

      There are no “sure” things when it comes to content. You can only study your audience and improve with each post. The popularity of some content may surprise you but the only way to get it right is by providing what your audience wants and hoping they notice. By “hoping” I mean doing everything in your power to get them to see it.

      Thanks for the feedback.

Your turn...