Why Engaging is More Important than Going Viral

Many businesses want to “go viral.” And it’s no wonder. “Going viral” means that your content resonates so much that people talk about it all across the Internet.

The viral content (whether it’s a blog post, video, or tweet) catches on fire and it becomes enthusiastically shared on Twitter, Liked on Facebook, and commented on.

Just like Gangnam Style or the Harlem Shake (yeah, like that).

Sure, “going viral” may be on your wish list. And while this seems like a good idea in theory, first ask what this will do for your business in practice. It’s often not a good long-term approach for many businesses.

Why?

1.     Companies should work to create a vibrant customer community first. The importance of building a loyal, engaged audience should not be underestimated. If there’s no community that’s alive to support your instant success, what’s the point? That’s like landing on the moon one day, to sitting in your living room the next. You’ll get whiplash. You’ll be disappointed. And it won’t have much lasting impact.

Tip: You can build a customer community by consistently creating high-quality content. Doing so allows you to bubble up slowly from a strong foundation, not skyrocket to the top. Remember that patience is necessary. Your audience won’t flock to you overnight. But if your expectations are managed, this won’t be a problem.

2.     The focus should be on creating good content targeted to the right people. If your viral content doesn’t reach the right people, then it doesn’t matter if your video gets 1 million page views or ten.  The results will still be the same. Sure, you may extend the reach of your brand. And this sounds great in theory. But think about what this really gets for your business? Will it just give your business more attention?  Or actually bring in more customers?

Tip: Think about what your customers need to hear. Answer their questions. And use the same channels they use. If they’re not on Twitter, don’t think you need to be there because everyone is doing it. Be smart about the channels you use, and where you distribute your message.

3.     The harder you try, the less it resonates. Odds are, that you won’t go viral, anyway. Instead, execute on goals that are actionable, and create strategies that make sense for your business. If a part of your strategy is to be “to be the next YouTube star,” you might want to rethink that.

Tip: Inject your content with currency. It’ll be shared in a way that’s natural. How do you give content currency? Use emotional triggers. Tell stories. And use tasty words.Mmm, words.

4.     A piece of content does not have to “go viral” to be successful. If you set clear goals and objectives that you can measure, you’ll know if it’s a success. This can mean a few thousand views or a few hundred. It’s up to you to determine.

Tip: Think through the distribution of the content. Make it easy for your customers to read and share. Add the ShareThis button on your blog posts. Or the Digg Digg plugin. Tools like click to tweet allow easy sharing within a post. For example, click this to share this section of this post to see how it works. Pretty cool, eh?

Going viral is not always the right solution or a strategy. Know what works best for your business, and stay grounded. You don’t always need to be high up in the sky to see the bigger picture.

What are other alternatives to going viral to achieve success for your business? Please comment below.

This post originally appeared on the Vocus blog.

social_blackboard