On Going Viral

Look at these morose hipsters. You know why they’re sad? Cause they still don’t know how to build an audience.

Going viral is a term that many people, not just marketers, throw around a lot these days. This obsession of releasing content that will spread across the internet like a bad cold is akin to wanting to write the Great American Novel, meaning two things: you need good content and you have a very slim chance of making it, Ernest Hemingway.

What one ought to do instead is focus on getting a maximum return on one’s investment. Instead of spray painting the wall with cheap house paint, why not lovingly create a beautiful landscape instead? That way, even if you did only receive 100 pageviews or a couple of comments, you haven’t sunk your money, time and effort into something that you find regrettable. At the end of the day you’ll still be proud of your work.

I’ve been a digital marketer for a few years now for a variety of projects and companies. In that time I’ve learned a thing or two about the process of raising awareness. It’s surprisingly simple when it comes right down to it. There is a lot of advice out there, though. I realize I’m just adding my own voice to the cacophony but if you really focus on the simplest things, you might find that you start to get ahead of the rest.

Here’s my advice:

Don’t focus on going viral

It’s too much of a hassle and no one has really figured out what “going viral” really means anyway. Yes, there are avenues and methods that can help spread content, but there’s also a degree of luck involved too, which means that it’s very difficult to predict when and why something is poised to go viral.

Create quality content

Content is the real buzzword that you should pay attention to. And when you first read it, you’ll likely be flummoxed as to what “content” means. Here’s the thing: it can be anything. A song, a poem, a book, an infograph, videos, podcasts. However, it has to be specific to what you’re doing and relevant for your audience or else they won’t pick it up and share it. For example, if you’re a musician create a music video or give your fans a digital music download. Are you a photographer? Offer a free monthly wallpaper featuring your work.

Don’t give it away for free

Want to maximize the return on investment? Make them give you their email address in exchange for it. Now you can start to calculate how much worth your content has garnered because each email address is valuable. Email marketing is still the #1 way to reach your audience because they have opted-in to receive information from you. Once you have that, instead of hoping people who MIGHT like your stuff will find your new content now you can instantly reach a dedicated group of individuals who want to know instantly. Better yet? Ask them to spread the information. Let them be your evangelists!

There are oodles of more tactics to better market yourself online but these are really the first steps that you can take toward building an audience base, which is the real goal of “going viral”. Yes, it would be nice to reach 100 million YouTube views like Walk Off the Earth recently hit with “Somebody That You Used to Know”, but that doesn’t mean that they have 100 million fans now. They still have to build and maintain their audience, just like you.

Addendum: Want personal help pulling together a digital marketing plan for your work? Send me an email and I’ll advise you on how to build your audience!

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2 thoughts on “On Going Viral

  1. Sarah Begin May 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm Reply

    Great post, Olga. I agree completely! I’ve never really believed in this “going viral” stuff… it seems like such a gamble. I would much rather create quality products, not gimmicks… even if nobody ever sees them.

    • Olga May 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm Reply

      Thanks Sarah!

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