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David Calbert Jul 6, 2015 1:25:00 AM 2 min read

Why Trying To Go Viral Can Disease Your Business | SF AppWorks

The viral content phenomena was something born out of the Millennial generation, and so it’s no surprise that when marketers want to reach the Millennial demographic they assume that going viral is the best possible strategy. But attempts to create a viral sensation is much like the quest for the Holy Grail; an act of folly that leads to misery and ultimate failure.


Making viral content on purpose seems to be antithetical to content that actually becomes viral because, to quote Cara McDonald on Everything Matters, “trying to go viral is kind of like trying to be cool. The second you try, it becomes uncool.” This was abundantly clear when politicians tried to capture Millennial’s attention by trying to go viral and failing miserably. They end up looking like the dorky dad trying to connect with his teen son and coming off as patronizing and insincere. This leads us to our first reason you shouldn’t try to go viral.


Photo via Unsplash, by Georg Eiermann


1. You Could Accidentally Create a Bad Image For Yourself


There are plenty of examples of videos that went viral for reasons the creators didn’t want (see the above politicians and the infamous Friday video). Not only is it embarrassing and casts your brand in a bad light, but it also makes you appear incompetent. As a marketer your ultimate goal is to convince people that whatever product or service you’re promoting is the best choice, and that can only work if your brand has credibility. A bad viral video can kill that credibility.


2. Viral Content Is Irrelevant To Your Business


At its core, viral content is emotional manipulation. This isn’t to say that viral content can’t be substantive or valuable, but the quality that compels people to share it is that it has moved them in some way emotionally. Think of all the inspiring pictures and hilarious videos that clutter your inbox on a daily basis. Do you remember what the creators of that content do, or even who they are? Probably not. So even if you manage to create a viral sensation, there may be little to no return on investment.


3. You Are Ignoring Your Target Audience


Good digital marketing provides potential customers who could genuinely benefit for your services quality content. This is universal across all demographics, Millennials included. 75% of Millennials want their content to help them become better informed about specific topics. Viral content is like the candy of the marketing world; sweet and widely appealing but with no nutritional value. Good content offers people information that is actually useful and positions your company as a thought leader, not creators of shallow distractions.