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“We want to go viral” are words that’ll make just about any marketer cringe. Sure, the idea of content that attracts thousands of likes, comments and followers without the help of any ad spend sounds pretty amazing to anyone. But in truth, it’s really just a fairytale for the digital age.

“Going viral” just isn’t a good marketing strategy. Here’s why…


You can’t plan for it

When it comes to creating a campaign that goes viral, the odds are stacked against you. You can spend a lot of time and money producing thousands of pieces of content for not a single one of them to go viral. And that’s the honest truth.

Content that goes viral is often unplanned and totally random. A good example of this is the woman who became a viral sensation after uploading a video to TikTok of her accidentally hitting her bed frame. Her high-pitched “ah” was reshared in other TikTok clips who remixed the sound with well-known songs like ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees and ‘Dilemma’ by Nelly. No one could have predicted the hype. And no one could have planned or prepared for it either.

Instead of wasting valuable money and resources trying your luck at becoming a viral sensation, focus your efforts on a good content marketing strategy that matches your organisation’s objectives.


You lose sight of your target audience

A key part of campaign planning is to get into the mindset of your target audience. This involves understanding their likes, dislikes, pain points and motivations. If your target audience can’t identify with your content, they’re unlikely to engage with it.

The key problem with designing content with the sole aim of going viral is that you’re forgetting about your target audience entirely and thinking only about getting seen by as many pairs of eyes as possible. If your content is designed to go viral then the chances are you’re coming off as insincere or numbers driven. And your audience will see through that.

Instead of designing content for the masses, focus on creating something that’s focused on your target audience and builds a meaningful relationship with them.


You might go viral for the wrong reasons

It’s important to remember that not all content is designed to go viral. For example, an explainer animation on how your services work is unlikely to attract millions of likes on Facebook. But on the other hand, it’s a heck of a lot more useful to your target audience than a video of a smiling baby. So if you design content that’s more likely to go viral than it is to actually be useful to your audience, you’ll get your 15 minutes of fame for all the wrong reasons. And you’re very unlikely to build any long-term value.

Or worse still, you could even end up going viral for something that hurts your brand reputation if you’re not careful. Remember Protein World’s ‘Are you beach body ready?’ advertising campaign from a few years ago? It faced a huge backlash for body shaming and there was even a petition on to have the campaign removed, which attracted over 70,000 signatures. It was eventually removed, but the damage to Protein World’s reputation had already been done.

Instead of jumping onto trends that aren’t relevant to your organisation, create content that’s designed to engage your target audience and create value for them.


Opting for a solid long-term strategy for your organisation will create long-term value for your audience. It’ll make your marketing efforts targeted and therefore result in a much better return on investment.

If you’re looking for support developing a long-term strategy that will engage and delight your target audience, we can help! Get in touch with a member of our team today and we’d love to help you get started.

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