Great content marketers make their jobs look easy.…
Going viral is the gold star of blogging, social media, and content marketing. It’s the biggest, brightest, shiniest gold star that we all strive to be awarded when we hit publish on a new post or share a new update.
As marketers, we all want our content to be seen. We all want to produce something so epic that it takes the internet by storm, and spreads through social media like wildfire so rapidly and so intensely that it even becomes the topic of offline conversation: “Oh my God, did you see that video of the…?
Putting your brand name in front of a mass audience is the dream.
However, with millions – yes MILLIONS – of pieces of content being produced and published daily on the internet, unfortunately very few people get to hold that big gold star in their hands and achieve going viral.
But some do. And to those people, we often ask what it’s like to see their content everywhere and to have so much traffic on their site but we very rarely ask what happens next. What happens AFTER you go viral? What are the results? And how does that huge surge of traffic impact your brand or business? Do your sales increase, does your SEO improve, and do your social media followers skyrocket?
Unless you’re reaching millions of people on a regular basis with your posts, chances are, going viral will have a huge impact on some aspects of your business. For that reason, being prepared (at least as prepared as you can be for the unknown) is vitally important.
#1. All Systems Go
When your company blog post goes viral, the first thing to prepare for is a huge spike in traffic. Obviously, but important – as you must ensure that your website is capable of dealing with heavy traffic levels, without crashing.
Lightening doesn’t tend to strike twice with content marketing, so if you miss out on that rush of traffic the first time, chances are visitors won’t return.
Once you’re equipped to deal with traffic, turn your focus to the conversations. The likes, shares, and comments will start to roll in and you’ll want to pay close attention to every notification. This is a technique that I call ‘Conversation Mining’. By identifying the key points and issues that people are discussing in the comments of your article, you’ll be able to form an idea of what made it successful, making you more likely to replicate the action in the future.
#2. Queries And Questions
Much like comments, shares, likes, and Tweets, if your viral post is closely linked to the product or service you provide, you may also be inundated with customer service-type queries.
Answering these queries should be a top priority, as your response will be the difference between a website visitor and a new customer. Enhanced user experience and instant customer service is the future of digital marketing. So, make use of the customer service management tools at your disposal – not just via phone and email, but also through social media, as channels like Facebook and Twitter are powerful means of communication between brand and customer.
#3. The Haters
If your post is somewhat controversial, gives a strong opinion, or forms a sweeping statement, you should be fully armed to tackle the backlash – because it will come.
But, surprisingly, even if your viral post is titled “25 Most Adorable Pictures Of Kittens Ever? you’re still going to be met with some negativity. These will most likely be pointless, arbitrary comments about how your post is ‘rubbish’ or ‘badly written’ or ‘unfunny’ and can mostly be ignored, or deleted if offensive.
A rule to live by when it comes to online negativity, as a marketer, is to respond only to the negative comments that serve a purpose. An example of this is someone criticizing your business or making a complaint. If this occurs, apologize and respond politely whilst trying to move the conversation offline. Responding to those being negative for the sake of negativity will only spark further anger.
#4. What’s Your Secret?
Another reaction to viral success is the emails and messages you will get from other marketers and bloggers who want to know what magic dust you sprinkled on your blog post to make this all happen.
How you react to this is entirely personal. Whilst some like to offer transparency and shine a light on their techniques and methods, others like to keep tight-lipped to maintain a competitive edge. Regardless of your preference, you should be prepared for ‘new friends who want to ‘meet for coffee or ‘business lunches’ or just ‘pick your brain’.
#5. Meet Your Goals
Finally, the most important thing about going viral is to meet your goals. This is a lesson that most people who go viral, including me, have to learn the hard way.
The first time I went viral, it was unexpected. I shared one of my blog posts on our company’s Facebook page which I thought was pretty funny but had no idea the post would spread so far and wide. When it did, I was not equipped to benefit positively from the traffic.
As a result, I had hundreds of thousands of people on our company website, reading the post, bouncing off, and never returning again. The sinking feeling of losing so many potential customers was as horrifying as you would imagine.
It is therefore of the utmost importance to have specific goals in place for going viral and tools and metrics at the ready to help you achieve them when it happens.
Your goals may include a certain amount of direct sales, data capture, increasing brand awareness, or gaining more social media followers.
Methods of achieving these may include calls to action, social buttons, or social/search engine retargeting.
Thankfully, I was lucky enough to go viral a few more times and by outlining my objectives, prior to hitting publish, I was able to achieve those goals effortlessly.
Going viral is great. There’s no denying that it feels good to see so many people reading, talking about, and sharing your work. But viral traffic, in its nature, peaks and drops very quickly. Therefore, getting the traffic is not what’s important – it’s what you do in the aftermath that counts.