The Catch-22 of Going Viral

Lately I’ve been asked a lot of questions along the lines of “How can I get my business to go viral” or “How can I reach super fanpagedom and have tons of fans yesterday?”  My answer is usually something a long the lines of a good product/concept, lots of luck and maybe a connection or two.  It’s very hard to go viral or achieve stardom in the business world, especially with the ability for basically anyone to start a business thanks to the internet.  Today I’m not going to share with you the secret to going viral, because I don’t have it and I don’t think I want it.  But I do have a couple of other thoughts for us to consider about going viral or achieving stardom.

The biggest gain of going viral or getting a lot of press about your company is that your ideas get in front of lots of people, people who could contribute to or buy from your company.  The hope, of course, is that your idea is actually worthy of going viral.

Catch number 1 with going viral is that once you’ve gone viral you either got to keep playing with the big dogs, or be a one hit wonder.  Now, if you’re lucky some people will stick around to see what else is going on after the big show, but most won’t, unless you’ve got more than one viral video in your back pocket.  You’ve probably heard about the concerns with Apple, because people are worried they’re not going to be able to keep coming out with new and great products anymore.  Which leaves Apple with a choice: keep getting creative, or change what people know you for.

Catch number 2 goes hand in hand with catch number 1.  Going viral is really only worth the work (or having the luck) in the long term if you’ve got something fantastic waiting in the wings.  A viral video is a great way to introduce a band who has a fantastic new album on the way that people can buy.   A Facebook page with tons of likes is great if you’ve got the products or services to back up the community.

My take is, I’m happy if you go viral.  Viralness, like many other things in 2013, is typically fleeting.  So I’m not going to pay much attention until I know that you’re going to stick around, or that your short term benefits are totally worth the effort.

So, if we’re not going viral, what do we do?  How about we go back to making connections, building companies, supporting communities and doing a little old fashioned work?  If you get lucky enough to go viral, celebrate. But spend most of your time on the bigger picture.

What do you think about going viral as a business?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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