Why Going Viral Should Not Be Your Goal

I read a blog post today by someone stating that going viral was their goal and is the goal of many others.

Is going viral really your goal?

A lot of entertainment content creators ask me how they can go viral. Their expectation is that they want to publish content today so they can go viral on a global scale tomorrow (literally, tomorrow).

That is unrealistic.

There are no short-cuts to going viral. There are no short-cuts in life. It takes a lot of hard work – belief in your mission, researching and delivering on the needs of your audience, consistency, clarity, and the list goes on.

I am known to say, “do the work, the accolades will follow”. I am quite sure that neither Meryl Streep or Robert DeNiro had as their goal, to win or keep winning Academy Awards.

Focusing on the award, or going viral in this case, is not an optimal approach. Yes, winning any type of award, accolade or praise, is great, but it always has to be about the work.

While I can’t guarantee your content will go viral, I can tell you that making the following tips part of your daily habits will help you be successful. And with success, accolades do follow.

1. Show up to work.

This is all about preparation. What are your audience’s likes and dislikes? What are their liking, sharing, and commenting habits? You need to do a lot of listening to them and observing their habits on social media channels, online communities, and elsewhere to understand their needs and wants. Once you know exactly who your audience is and what their wants are, you can create personas. Researching and understanding their behaviors is key.

In addition, engage with your audience. Ask them questions, answer questions, provide additional resources. You are at the place of starting to build trust.

2. Do the work.

Create the content that they want and that will help them. When you can make content more personal to your audience, it will resonate with them, and because they are having an emotional relationship with it, they will want to take some type of action to engage with it, whether that is liking it, commenting on it, sharing it, or another type of action such as visiting your website and engaging with additional pieces of content.

Continue to engage with your audience. There is no sprint or marathon, it is a journey. It is a continuous process to understand your audience’s needs and wants. You should always be in a discovery mode so that you can continue to deliver what your audience wants.

Test and Retest. Take what you have learned and create content. Be able to tell a great story. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Most great stories are the simple ones. And, put simply, great stories (1) have a solid beginning-middle-end format that take the reader on a journey (2) are emotionally engaging and (3) elicit some type of action by the reader. Experiment with it. Your goal should be to always provide compelling content that is visually appealing that your audience wants. Whatever the type of content format, you should use the right mix of visual and written content.

3. Be authentic.

I had an acting coach once tell me to “be honest” in my work. That advice really hit home for me, and it really changed my outlook on how I engage with people. Being honest is all about being authentic, real and truthful. All of your interactions should be one-to-one, conversational and genuine. And we all must be empathic. Empathy is a key trait for a marketer to have. Being truly empathic will take your relationships with your audience to a deeper, more personal level. And emotionally connecting with your audience will result in your audience engaging with you.

4. Let It Go.

This Academy Award-winning best song and theme to the Academy Award-winning best animated feature can serve us all well here. When we show up to work, do our job, which is to do the work, be authentic and know we have done the best we can, we can then Let It Go!

We won’t be able to please everyone all the time, but if we can reach some of our audience and help them, we will be successful. And that will result in the accolades and the ability to go viral.

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