Viral: Does Your Brand Want It Or Not?

Viral is such a buzz term now.  Every where I turn, I’m getting questions from people asking, “How do I make my content go viral” and “How do I take my business and brand viral?”

It always leads me to ask the question in return, what is viral and is it a good or bad thing. The first essential step in becoming viral is simply understanding your medium.  Whether you have a blog you want to become more “sticky,” a Facebook business page you want people to “like” or a Twitter account you covet thousands of followers for, you have to understand where you are in the continuum of understanding.

The first level is awareness.  Five years ago or so, you asked someone what Twitter was, not everyone knew.  They perhaps had heard of it but really had no clue what it did and how it worked.  Now, the argument is easily won that everyone is aware of social media and blogs.

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The second level is acquisition.  Many were deciding three years ago if they truly wanted to step into the technology/social media pool.  Now, many have been forced to acquire the technology due to the consumer demand and common use.

Aptitude comes next. This means you have a good understanding of your preferred medium and know the basic principles.  If it’s Facebook, you know how to post a status and upload a picture.  If you’re on Twitter, you’re comfortable with tweeting and using hashtags.

Ability takes it to the closest, best level.  You understand the technical aspect of your medium.  You can create Facebook groups and lists and manage who to send out your information to the correct, targeted groups.  You can dig on Twitter and find the information you need and tweet without worrying about the content at the basic level.

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Actualization is where we all need to be and soon.  It’s that moment that we forget about technology and just live as if we are in real life. It’s a harmony that few in the on-line space will find in their lifetime but today’s digital natives will as they grow older.

Today’s tech savvy or tech savvy aspiring businessperson must find actualization before anything can truly go viral in the online space.  When we look at viral, however, is that something you truly want to be? Viral is typically quick spreading and short-lived, almost a microwave dinner instead of a strategic long-term garden and meal plan.

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As you are looking to go viral, a few important aspects should remain at the forefront. What messages are you placing out there in your social media world?  I suspect just as in every part of life, there are social media personality styles.  I happen to be an “entertainer.”  I’m always saying something to make people laugh or engage in a unique way with me virtually. I tend to attract Gen Y and Gen X females in my on-line behavior.  News consumers and Baby Boomer men are usually turned-off by my content.

Other personality types vary from the “motivator” to the “ebb and flow.”  Each type attracts and repels friends and consumers. The key is to understand who you want to touch and work to refine that technique.

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