Why I’d rather die than ‘go viral’

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Yes, we all hate the term ‘go viral’ especially in relation to videos.

Let me clarify, people don’t seem to like the misuse of the term ‘viral’ when it comes to videos.

I’m going to take this a step further today.

I’d rather die, than ‘go viral’ and here’s why…

‘Going viral’ is often an indicator of poor general online engagement 

Are you scratching your head at that sub-heading?
When you ‘go viral’ you tend to experience a very steep period of consumer awareness as thousands of  ‘discovery explosions’ take place when the world (it seems) is simultaneously sharing the same link. 
The online video ‘discovery explosion’ process

Essentially, viral videos go beyond their target / intended audience and receive advocacy from mass media / participants.

While there isn’t an exact science of formula to ‘going viral’, one of the key ingredients is producing something that is unique enough to make it a ‘must-see.’
A lot of this, no matter what you are told, is luck / guesswork. 
The only example of a guaranteed viral hit I can think of in the last few years was the T-Mobile Royal Wedding video, which cashed in on a very rare event.

There are two alternatives to this approach which I feel are much more beneficial.

  1. Create content regularly and consistently so your key audience / community engages with you on a weekly basis (as if you operated a TV channel) 
  2. Target your video outreach / seeding efforts by concentrating on the people that will actually do something with that content (as opposed to retweeting it, liking it etc)

Targeted interaction versus mass awareness

Now, call me old-fashioned, but if I have a product that is only available in the UK, what good does it do me for 5 million people to view my video in India?

Sure, the fame and media coverage resulting from your ‘worldwide YouTube sensation’ is exciting, but it also stinks of getting ‘coverage’ for the sake of it.

Back to my headline ad original point.

‘Going viral’ CAN be great but only if it plays a role in achieving the broader objectives of that activity.

But, I stand by my I’d rather die than ‘go viral’ statement.

If you are regularly and consistently communicating with your customers / stakeholders, they will regularly communicate with you.

They will tell their friends about the real benefits of using your products because they have an ongoing relationship with you.

If you hang all of your successes on one big viral hit, chances are you won’t have the budget to engage with those people you attracted for another 12 months until you do something similar again.

You see, the days of ‘stunty’ communications are limited.

Sure, they can play a role in bringing attention to broader activity, but on their own, can potentially be fatal too.

And, finally, ‘viral videos’ are just one form of online video. Add value to your communities by creating regular useful content that they can refer to again, and again, and again, and..

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