Digital marketing

What is ‘going viral’ and is it really achievable?

- March 23, 2023 4 MIN READ
viral video views

On a daily basis, we come into contact with content that’s going viral. If you’re reading this article, chances are, you’ve come here seeking the secret formula to infect the internet with your awesomeness. However, there is no surefire way to guarantee that your content will go viral. While there are some strategies that can increase your chances, there is still an element of unpredictability when it comes to viral success, writes social media expert Emily-Rose Hills.

First, let’s explore the concept of going viral. Does it actually matter? And what are the tips and strategies for increasing your chances of viral success?

So, buckle up, and let’s dive into the world of viral content!

What does it mean to go viral?

To go viral means a video, image, or article spreads across the internet within a short period of time, generating an immense amount of attention, views, and engagement from a large audience.

The word ‘viral’ best describes the content that spreads like a contagion, infecting and captivating a wide range of people. You come across viral content every day, whether you realise it or not.

In 1997, a video clip of a disgruntled male office worker smashing up his computer started to make rounds on the internet via email. It’s possibly one of the first videos to achieve viral status online. More than 26 years later, you can still find GIFs from the video that continue to appear on social media feeds like Twitter and Facebook. Given that most memes have a relatively short lifespan, it’s nothing short of a miracle that this video remains relevant and entertaining.

Even songs can go viral. Is anyone else triggered by ‘Baby Shark doo-doo-doo’? Just asking for a friend.

While there is no hard and fast rule for determining what constitutes viral content, many marketing experts typically use a benchmark of five million views within the first week of posting to define viral success.

woman creating social media video outdoors

Why do people want to go viral?

The reason people (and businesses) want their content to go viral is it’s believed to ultimately lead to financial gain – just ask any influencer who gets paid thousands a month to post content or has a brand sponsorship. It also leads to increased exposure and recognition.

Going viral is seen as the ultimate validation, indicating the enormous amount of people who’ve found your awesomeness compelling enough to share with their friends and family.

This raises another question: Do you have to go viral to be successful?

Is going viral important for success?

I have to admit, I’m somewhat triggered by the concept that you need to go viral to be successful.

While going viral can undoubtedly result in increased visibility, recognition and revenue, it’s not always a reliable way to measure sustainable success or long-term impact. In most cases, viral content may only attract fleeting attention, or fails to convert viewers into followers or superfans.

Creating viral content is not all warm fuzzies and raining money; there can be a downside – negative backlash from keyboard warriors, over-saturation, or the pressure of constantly producing viral content.

It’s important to determine whether virality is imperative to your success, as there are alternative metrics you can measure for attaining online success – such as engagement and Return on Investment (ROI).

Strategies to help you go viral and infect the internet with your awesomeness

going viral social media shares

Create quality content

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for creating viral content. However, there are some common characteristics that many viral pieces of content share:

  • Emotion: Elicit strong emotions, whether it’s humour, awe, inspiration, or anger.
  • Shareability: It’s easy to share, even if it is shared via dark socials.
  • Timing: Tap into current events or trends.
  • Unexpectedness: Use the element of surprise.
  • Authenticity: Being raw and real can make viewers feel like they are part of a larger community.
  • Visual appeal: Use eye-catching visuals or animations.

Leverage the power of social media

  • Identify the right platform: Choose the platform that best aligns with your content and target audience.
  • Use hashtags: This helps increase the visibility of your content and makes it easier for users to discover.
  • Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, ask for feedback, and encourage user-generated content to increase the likelihood of shares.
  • Use influencers: Collaborating with influencers who have large followings can help increase your reach and tap into new audiences.
  • Run paid social media campaigns: Paid social media campaigns can help increase your reach and exposure.
  • Post consistently: Consistently posting high-quality content can help you build a loyal following and increase the chances of going viral in the long run.

It’s important to note that going viral is not solely dependent on the content itself. Other factors such as timing, luck, and audience engagement can also play a role in determining whether a piece of content goes viral.

Ultimately, creating viral content requires a combination of creativity, strategy, and luck.

This is such an enormous subject but if you’d like to learn more about going viral, you can tune into episode one of The Social Media Coach podcast, where I sit down with Richard Beech, former viral creator for powerhouse, Buzzfeed, and now founder of Electroheads, which is driven by TikTok and YouTube Content.

This article was first published on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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