A balancing act: Viral marketing advantages and disadvantages

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Viral marketing advantages and disadvantages certainly exist and should be considered when working on our organic content strategies and initiatives. Even though I’m not sure I’ve ever heard somebody say: We do NOT want that content to go viral.

In this article, I discuss the following:

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing uses organic strategies and avenues for content to catch fire and take off. Going viral means that content spreads and goes way beyond its average performance. What precisely the threshold of going viral depends on your worldview of what good performance is.

For example, my typical YouTube Short has anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand views. Then my patio transformation video had over 50,000. Did it go viral? Umm, I probably wouldn’t say so, but it certainly took off.

Generally, it feels that the definition of going viral is numbers that are not even imaginable for the average content strategist. 50,000 is excellent, but it’s not 50 million, which seems out of this world.

Advantages of viral marketing

The advantage of viral marketing is that it gets the brand out there. People are paying attention and sharing the content (otherwise, it wouldn’t go viral).

Viral marketing is kind of the new form of being on TV or in the newspaper back in the days when those were the only channels people paid attention to. Going viral means that the “masses” are seeing your content, brand, and product; hopefully, it can help drive some revenue growth as well.

In general, some might say that all PR is good PR, and going viral also falls into that category.

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Disadvantages of viral marketing

The most significant potential disadvantage of viral marketing is that once you go viral, the content can take on a life of its own. Back in the day, when companies ran TV commercials, the commercial ran, and that was that. It either influenced brand awareness and sales, or it didn’t.

Viral marketing is more of a two-way street. People add their comments, and to go viral, that’s necessary. Comments on many networks spread the content further, but that also will lead to no-so-nice comments, which can get under people’s skin.

Of course, some creators deliberately publish controversial opinions to bait people into leaving comments, which will then potentially help them go viral.

Depending on the level of going viral, the content might now be in front of entirely irrelevant audiences to a company. For example, when content for an OBGYN doctor goes viral globally, most people seeing that content aren’t local and won’t use that doctor’s services. But, when the global audience increases, the local or relevant audience also typically increases.

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Why organic strategies are worth implementing

Going viral or not, it all starts with an organic strategy, which needs to include a social media component. I have not seen somebody on the news for their blog going viral. Yes, sometimes the news covers viral marketing moments – which can be good or bad depending on the concept.

Either way, organic strategies help drive long-term business impact, and even though viral marketing success is usually short-lived, it can boost organic strategies and the company’s marketing.

In short, viral marketing is great when it happens, but even if it doesn’t happen (immediately), organic growth strategies can still drive long-term success.

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