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Why "Going Viral" Should NOT Be a Marketing Goal

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Whether a tweet, TikTok, or blog piece, content is considered to “go viral” when it rapidly gains popularity in a short span of time due to online users sharing and engaging with the content. To truly “go viral,” content typically amasses over 100K views and 1K comments. Without a doubt, a viral post can skyrocket business. Think heatless curls, homemade matcha lattes, cronuts, and emotional support water bottles. “Going viral” reduces advertising costs, increases reach, and maximizes engagement in an organic and rapid way. But, viral content doesn’t always equate success. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial or Dove’s “Real Beauty Bottles.” Once something is on the internet, it can’t really be erased. So for a brand, “going viral” can be a blessing or a curse.

Blessing or curse aside, “going viral” should NOT be a marketing goal. Yes, we just said that—emphatically. You see, if “going viral” is your goal,

1. You’re overlooking your product/service/target audience by only reaching for your 15 minutes of fame.

Social media is all about strengthening the relationship with your current and potential customers and clients. Virality typically yields weak ties—albeit many of them. Instead of investing in a campaign that reaches millions of people only tangentially, your focus should be on cultivating your direct target audience (and the periphery) to create a loyal base that engages with your brand beyond simply sharing a video.

2. You’re probably going to compromise some of your brand values along the way by placing eyeballs over ethics.

If you’re putting your marketing budget and energy toward trying to “go viral,” it is surprisingly common to push the boundaries a little too far—saying something potentially offensive, framing your brand in a new way that confuses or betrays current consumers, or making a presentation or promise that you’re not sure you are ready to stand behind long-term. We’re all about strategizing new marketing endeavors that align with your brand (Seriously. Hit us up!). But being “edgy” for edgy’s sake? That ain’t it.

3. You don’t really understand what makes successful viral content.

The best viral content (the kind that actually brings a business higher sales) is honest and authentic to the brand itself. What’s so magical about our digital world is that even the tiniest brands can be discovered by just being themselves. Yes, social media algorithms can be frustrating to navigate. And, they can work in ways you’d least expect.

The moral of our story? Stay true to you. Put your time, energy, and dollars into marketing strategies that align with your mission, target audience, and long-term goals. This way, you’re going to cultivate a community of happy (and returning) clients and customers. If a piece of your content does go viral, that’s a cute little accident that may make your business pop off or may be just a moment in the spotlight. Either way, your foundation is already primed for success (the real kind).