There Is No “Go Viral” Button

We live in a connection economy, where trust and attention are both scarce and sought after. “Going viral” is today’s equivalent of striking gold, and tips for how to do it are heralded by clickbait promises such as, “Blog Post Formula That Will Guarantee Your Post Goes Viral”; “The 10 Keywords That Will Make Your Tweets Go Viral”; or The 5-Step Program to Going Viral on YouTube”.

With articles like these becoming ubiquitous, it’s not at all surprising that otherwise rational people who aren’t digital marketing or brand-building professionals ask their marketing team to “make something go viral”. I’ve been in several meetings where principals have asked, “What do we need to do to make our product go viral?”

The reality is that marketers don’t have a go-viral button hidden behind the curtain and marked “for use with special clients only”. Nor is there a top secret, algorithm-based formula that can be used. No amount of budget or brainstorming is guaranteed to maneuver a product or video to a place where it will beat out the latest Kardashian “news”.

Instead of focusing on gaming the system or uncovering a shortcut to success, smart creators focus on bringing the world a product or idea that helps people fulfill their potential — something that makes their lives better — even for a moment. Those ideas and products spread and last far longer than a trending headline or video of nothingness.