Does Virality Really Matter?

Social media users propagate it, brands crave it, and sometimes, the most unexpected things end up experiencing it.

It’s called virality, and in this context, it refers to the state of a social media update (whether photo, video, or text) being shared and reshared by users, resulting in it reaching an astronomically large audience that it wouldn’t normally reach under ordinary circumstances.

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There is no golden formula for virality. Even if we look at the kinds of content that have gone viral over the past few years -- from Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding kiss photo on Instagram to Korean pop star PSY’s inexplicably catchy Gangnam Style music video on YouTube -- the only true measure we can apply to viral content is the number of times they are shared.

It’s undeniable that viral content is powerful -- that it does influence the way a group of people thinks, and that due to its viral nature, its popularity tends to grow exponentially. However, designing your content solely for the purpose of going viral is one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. Viral content tends to be forgettable. Sure, you’ll get tons of eyeballs when your content goes viral. However, it won’t last long. Viral content, in general, suffer from short lifespans -- sometimes, even minutes -- thus preventing them from leaving any sort of long-term impact on your target audience.

  2. What’s likely to go viral isn’t always well-suited for your brand. While the prospect of getting so many likes and shares may be tempting, if you’ll be sacrificing the integrity and consistency of your brand’s content on social media, it’s not worth it. Better stick to what you know instead of trying to appeal to too many people at once and losing your core audience in the process.

  3. Focusing on virality means focusing on the effect, not the cause. If you don’t have a good grasp of what makes content go viral and pour all your energies into trying to make sure that your content will, you won’t be able to produce good content. It’s like copying someone else’s math assignment and not bothering to learn the formulae yourself -- you’ll enjoy not having to do your homework yourself, but you’ll surely hate yourself come exam time.

  4. You’ll be limiting yourself creatively. In your quest to develop viral content, you’re likely to just stick to tried and tested methods of getting attention, instead of utilizing your team’s creativity and ideas to come up with content that truly has merit for your brand or industry.

Instead of focusing too much on virality, pay attention to the value of the content you’re creating. Is it helpful and informative to your audience? Is it actionable? Is it something your audience has never seen before? Does it deliver a positive message, or elicit strong positive reactions from your target market?

 If you can answer these questions with a “yes,” then you won’t have to worry about virality. It’s likely that you’re already producing high-quality, share-worthy content -- in essence, hitting two birds with one stone.

Are you ready to take your online presence to the next level? I'm  happy to get on a call with you and discuss exactly what you need.

P.S. – Feel free to join us in The Social Business Café. It’s a free Facebook group that I created for entrepreneurs and small business owners.