"Can you make this go viral?"
Anyone who has been a social media manager for an organization has heard this at least once from someone who didn't quite understand what it means to actually go viral on social media.
Still, it's the ultimate goal of every social media manager at some point in their career, to catch the elusive white whale that is a social media post gone viral.
And about a year into this ministry, by sheer luck, I experienced the sensation of a post gone viral.
(Please don't judge my graphic design skills - I was inexperienced at the time! I promise I have much better skills now!)
It all started one day between confessions and the Saturday vigil Mass. We had some time to kill in between, and as we were praying in the church, the thought came to me of church gymnastics.
I ran out to the car and jotted it down because I thought it was funny. The next day, I made it into a little graphic and shared it on my business page because even though it wasn't about marketing, I just thought it was funny.
Apparently everyone else did too.
It. Blew. Up.
To date, it's been shared more than 1,500 times on my Facebook page alone (more on that below) and has 600% reach. Three years later, and it's still shared frequently each year as it comes up in people's memories.
Five Lessons Learned
So what did I learn from going viral?
1. Always make your branding prominent. Always. As you can see, my company name was super tiny on the bottom. Looking back, I'd add this bigger or use my logo.
2. Go back and edit the post with your website. Once something has gone viral, if you can, go back and edit the description with your website, lead magnet, etc. so people can learn more about you.
3. Thank people who shared. This is a bit time consuming, but go through your shares/mentions and thank people who shared the post or comment/follow, etc. if they're in your target market.
4. Have a team helping you find untagged shares. I am blessed to have all of you in my corner, because to this day, you all still tag me in comments when it's shared without attribution online, so that people can continue to discover this ministry. (Courtesy would be to share the original post versus downloading and sharing as your own or tagging the originator in the description if you can't share directly.)
5. Going viral isn't always the best for your engagement. Each year as it comes around again, I get a ton of people who follow me and then are disappointed that my page isn't just a bunch of Catholic memes.
In sum: You can't force going viral. Seriously, this was a post I made on a whim. The graphic design is iffy at best. It had nothing to do with my business. I can't tell you why it was successful except that it resonated with people.
Which goes back to one of my mantras: quality content will ALWAYS win the algorithm. Every time.
So you want to go viral? Create content that resonates with people, that is relatable and funny or entertaining or thought-provoking. And then sit back and watch who God reaches.