Although business owners could give you a lot of reasons they try social media marketing – like customer retention, brand awareness, and so on – the reality is that a lot of them secretly want to create a viral campaign that will be seen by tens of thousands of people, and maybe even more. Accomplish that feat just once, and they can gain national recognition without putting a Super Bowl ad-sized hole in their marketing budget.
Unfortunately, creating a viral campaign isn’t usually as easy as inserting a cat into your favorite meme and watching tens of thousands of fans start to follow you on Facebook. What’s more, there are three things companies almost always misunderstand about viral marketing and its effects. Here’s what you need to know:
#1: It’s Not Really About the Views
Watching your content go viral can be a lot of fun, and satisfying in a personal way. Who doesn’t like to be the creative force behind something popular, even if it’s just for a couple of days?
It’s important to remember, however, that views don’t do much to put money in your pocket. For your social media campaign to pay off, whether it was viral or not, you need people to click through to your website, engage with your company, and ultimately decide to buy something.
#2: Luck Matters as Much as Skill
For every piece of viral content you see, there are probably a hundred other ideas that were just as clever, fun, or interesting. Why didn’t they get thousands and thousands of views? A lot of times, the difference is just dumb luck.
For any piece of content to go viral, it has to be seen by the right person at the right time. And it has to inspire enough of an emotional reaction in those first few viewers that they want to send it on to all their friends and colleagues. It’s hard to predict that kind of effect, no matter how hard you work at it.
#3: Going Viral Can Actually Hurt Your Online Marketing
If you do manage to produce something viral, know that it can actually hurt your company. That’s because the sudden influx of new traffic can crash your servers. It can cause you to start receiving inquiries from “prospects” who aren’t really interested, and can even lead to a backlash against your business.
The farther you go to create something viral, the more likely you are to veer away from your core business and into the realm of entertainment. That might be fun, but it’s not necessarily going to get buyers to take you seriously.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to create a viral marketing campaign. A more important goal, though, is just to engage potential customers and make sure your efforts are focused enough that they’ll eventually be profitable. If you can do that and gain thousands of new followers, you’ll be making the most of the time you spend on social media.
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