“Going viral” is the going phrase. Everyone from wannabe celebrities to health gurus to marketing execs to mommy bloggers dreams of going viral. One great viral post can pay for itself. The ad revenue from one viral video on YouTube could be a game-changer for an up-and-coming business. The rewards seem endless. On the other hand, the risks aren’t insignificant. Whether your attempt to go viral succeeds or fails, you’re going to run the risk of being labeled click-bait. Click-bait is an insult, an accusation of fluff, or worse—manipulation. Like someone trying too hard to be one of the cool kids, your attempt could backfire and make you look more desperate and loser-ish than ever. Is going viral worth the risk?
If You Could Guarantee Success
In simple terms, the positives of going viral far outweigh the consequences—but going viral itself is not guaranteed. If you could look into the future to know with 100% certainty that one specific headline, topic, or blog format would make you go viral, you should do it. However, guaranteeing success is not that easy. It’s impossible to know how many going viral campaigns have lived or died without ever making it big, because no one has ever heard about them. They failed. Given that you don’t know whether your blog will ever get that magic “retweet” from a celeb to launch you to stardom, using click-bait tactics is a bigger risk.
Viral Doesn’t Last
Going viral once is amazing. Doing it continuously? Much harder. You not only have to do it once, you have to keep it going. If you don’t, your blog is going to be like a one-hit wonder band. The Top Ten will change, and when your post drops off no one’s ever going to think about you again. They’re going to move on to the next viral sensation. Even if you get lucky today, you’d also have to be able to carry that forward to next week and next month and next year, and the Internet doesn’t have that kind of attention span.
Building your blog on quality, high value content means that it will still be relevant down the road. Every time you add a post to your blog, you’re making a deposit in the bank. Every time someone organically finds your blog and browses through your catalogue of high quality posts, that’s another dividend. Once your viral post is stale, you’ve gotten all you can from it.
Going viral is great. If it happens, reap the rewards! It’s just not a long term solution to boosting your brand. Given that you can’t make something go viral, you should turn to a better alternative: investing your time and energy in quality content. It’s not as big or exciting, but more people will be turned off by your click-bait viral attempts than will be drawn in. We’d like to go viral. We’d like to win the lottery, too. Buy a ticket, write a trendy piece once in a while, but put most of your money in the bank and most of your posts with an eye towards investment.