Forget “Viral:” True Marketing Success Doesn’t Happen Over Night


Tell me if this has happened to you. You are in a meeting with a higher up from your company about marketing strategy. The conversation turns to content or social media marketing (hooray!) Overall, the higher-up seems genuinely interested in what you have to say on the matter. Then, she drops this bomb “I want you to make some of those viral videos.” Or maybe it’s “We need to be a meme.” Uh oh.

Why Everyone is So Obsessed with Virality

While “we need to make a viral video” is certainly a better conversation in many ways than the classic “I just don’t think we need to invest in social media,” it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how brands achieve success in the digital and social space. Brands look at the success of ad campaigns like Old Spice’s “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” and come to believe that the best way to succeed is to make a video that people love, that spreads like wildfire on the internet, and wins plaudits from folks all around the world.

Why Viral Doesn’t Work and What to Do Instead

The truth of the matter is this: very little content that brands make truly goes viral. While some brands get very, very lucky and create content that truly attains viral status, most content does not. This does not mean that brands need to stop making content. It means the opposite. To succeed in social media and content marketing, brands and their marketers need to go to work every single day- building audiences one person at a time. Over night success is a lucky occurrence for some brands. It is not a sound marketing strategy.

So if a corner-office type tells you she wants a video with a million views, this is what you need to do: present them with a timeline. Show them how the work you do each day on social, and in creating content will accumulate fans over time. Then let her know that if you keep at it, in just a few years you will earn those million views and many of them will be people who have become, because of your work, truly engaged with and interested in your brand- not just people looking for a quick laugh at a 3 minute video.


For more on creating great video content, check out our blog “Take Your Content to the Next Level With Video Blogs.