Going Viral

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Those of us who use the internet on a daily basis hear the term “go viral” all the time. It seems as though everything has the potential to blow up in popularity – blog posts, photos, videos, news stories. Going viral is the internet-using population’s version of a front-page headline. Only in this case, the popularity is instant rather than building slowly.

So how exactly do you get something to go viral, and why would you want to? There are a lot of answers to these questions. I would be willing to say that many businesses would be thrilled to find something related to their company has gone viral. Here are a few reasons that viral content can help your business:

  • Drive traffic to your website – the definition of viral is to get a lot of attention in aGoing Viral short period of time. If viral content is located on your company’s website, expect site traffic to increase wildly. Some videos on YouTube that would be considered viral have hundreds of thousands or even millions of views, like Psy’s Gangnam style. If you are angling to get content seen, it’s important to make sure that your website is set up to handle large quantities of traffic.
  • Paint your business/industry in a positive light – even if a piece of viral content is not directly related to your specific business, it can still be beneficial to your company. Make sure to follow these tips for successful viral videos so your company doesn’t miss out on a great opportunity. Another way to give your business a boost is from content that paints your industry in a positive light. If you find viral content that is related to your industry in a positive manner, then share, share, share.
  • Create a human interest story – most viral content wasn’t created with immense popularity in mind. It just happens that way. In most instances, viral videos and photos gain popularity because they are funny or touching. However, there are some things you don’t want to do if you want something to go viral. By publishing content that has a human interest element, you may be able to generate more traffic.

Of course, going viral is not always a good thing. Many news stories about businesses that have wronged customers (or the customer perceives that they have been wronged) or have produced faulty products or bad business practices have gone viral much to the detriment of the company involved. This is just another instance where it is crucial to be careful what you publish, print, or share. While the ability of news and information to spread quickly on the Internet can be a great thing, it can also cause trouble if you are not cautious about what you post.

While it’s not generally possible to create content and then make it go viral (calling something viral generally indicates that it spread on its own) there are still some things that businesses can do in order to gain the interest of potential customers. Publishing interesting and unique content would be the most simple, yet effective way to get noticed. Utilizing different types of media is another way. And if you don’t want to give up on video, you can make a successful business video. Keeping yourself and your colleagues informed about what is going on as far as what is going on in the online business world and what is going viral will do nothing but help your company.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com.  ChamberofCommerce.com has a local business directory by state and city.

16 comments
marquita.herald
marquita.herald

Great advice - I tend to be the steady as she goes type, but every once in awhile it's fun to create some extra buzz and you've given us some terrific tips.

Shelley Alexander
Shelley Alexander

Megan, I really appreciated your tips on going viral. You absolutely need to share from the heart and create content that resonates with your target audience and if you do go viral it will happen organically and not from trying to use gimmicks or tricks to do so. Thanks for sharing!

donnamerrilltribe
donnamerrilltribe

Hi Megan,

Going viral to me is bad business.  We are here to brand ourselves seriously and ethically.  If we do a spoof and go viral, it takes away from brand and would, to me be embarrassing.  Thanks for the heads up.  I have seen some of those videos and although they are fun to look at, it really does one no good.

 

Donna

BlogSetupGuide
BlogSetupGuide

Nothing is worse than going viral and crashing your server because you don't have the resources to handle the traffic.  True, bad news spreads quicker than good news.  Make sure your doing stuff correctly and ethically.  I have seen people promote crappy products or do stuff very blackhat and put a lot of dirt on their name.  It's sad how some people just care about making money, but don't care about how others see them.

alanjenkin
alanjenkin

I like the fact that you point out that going viral isn't always a good thing.  It reminds me of some of the stories about teenagers having embarrassing pictures on Facebook  - definitely something they didn't want to go viral!

 

Thanks for the useful advice.

 

Alan

SadieFR
SadieFR

Thanks Megan I've shared this post already ... funny videos and cute photos seem to be winners in the viral stakes, I appreciate your tips :)

julieannevanzyl
julieannevanzyl

Hi Megan, it's no wonder those pesty bad things we sometimes get on our computers are called "viruses", they are one thing we don't want to go viral.   It just reminded me of those as I was reading your article, I know that's not what  you mean.   Those videos on youtube where babies are laughing often go viral, or if someone is doing something really funny.   If you manage to post something that other people find really useful, and they link back to it, it will go viral also. Thanks for sharing all your ideas!

 

 

mtotka
mtotka

 @donnamerrilltribe Hey Donna! While I do agree that some viral videos and content are just silly, some content, such as news articles or campaigns to drum up donations for charity are things that absolutely should be taken seriously.

AskKim
AskKim

 @donnamerrilltribe  I would have to say that's not 100% true Donna. Viral is simply the rapid rate of our content spreading. An example of a viral ad campaign that not only "worked" but made the company very good money without harming the brand was the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaigns that were wildly successful and actually played on the companies awareness that it's often the GAL in the relationship that buys things like bodywash for the guy who many could care less.  Not all viral is destructive any any way and a lot of it is highly lucrative. But it depends on WHY it goes viral and you're right that there is a TON of trash out there that does no one any good. 

Kim

mtotka
mtotka

 @BlogSetupGuide Agreed! As Shelley said above, it's important to create great content that is honest and from the heart. If it goes viral, great. If not, that's okay too.

mtotka
mtotka

 @julieannevanzyl Viral content is definitely better than an actual virus! But the idea is the same - something that spreads quickly and organically.

julieannevanzyl
julieannevanzyl

 john van zyl 

Going viral doesnt sound so great does it? Haha sounds like a virus spreading but sometimes in a good way if the information your spreading is like your virus =)

And Alan your right some things just shouldn't go viral lol =)

 

Regards, Jessica.