The misconception about viral content

I was recently talking to a friend who is a successful novel writer and I was offering him a few tips about expanding the audience for his books in order to increase his popularity and ultimately his sales.  At some point he mentioned a small agency who offered to help him to generate some content for social media and he added that they managed to have a video for one of their clients going viral and he was expecting they could do it again for him. At that point I had to warn him that going viral is not something that anyone should or could guarantee and I explained why.

The concept of a video (or other piece of content) going viral is when many people start sharing or commenting the content within a very short time, to a point when it gets noticed by a large number of people (hundreds of thousands or millions) who would not be the direct target for this content.   This is how some individuals become well known overnight or start to enjoy a level of popularity which they would have never enjoyed otherwise.  To the best of my knowledge two key features can help a piece of content to go viral:

  • Very unique, new, unexpected, sometimes controversial, content; or…
  • A large PR budget that, once pushed in the right way across many different channels, create the snowball effect

In my opinion and experience there no exact formula or methodology to create viral content.  For that reason beware of anybody who is claiming or selling “virality” as a one of the benefits about the content they are going to create or promote for you.

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