Virality: Myth or Marketing?

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Any brand’s dream is for its campaign to go viral overnight. Waking up to hundreds of thousands of views and shares across all social media platforms would be a dream come true. Thus, the theory of “viral marketing” evolved, whose concept revolves around turning a certain form of content into a phenomenon through distribution and the good ol’ word of mouth.

But after close observation, and some research, we can confidently say that viral marketing is, in reality, a viral myth. Here is a breakdown of how a video “goes viral”: A video is posted online. The video is quietly distributed here and there. And then an “explosion” takes place in the form of two or three famous celebrities who share that video with their millions of followers. These millions of followers consequently share that same video across their social media platforms. And that’s how the video “goes viral”. This proves that it is not a stroke of luck or some sort of magic wand that you jiggle around and mumble a few words before you click “post”.

The viral myth gives a false sense of online democracy. That with one awesome idea and perfect timing, the post will no doubt be the talk of the town within a few hours. Even though this is definitely an optimistic outlook that gives hope to any content creator out there, be it a writer or a photographer or a videographer, it is just that: A myth.

Therefore, we need to stop chasing after the mirage that is “going viral”. Ask any social media manager what their pet peeve is, and their first answer will be “being asked by senior management to create a post that goes viral”. And if they guarantee they won’t get fired, they would follow Rob Flaherty’s footsteps when he said: “The best answer to the question ‘How do I create a viral video?’ is ‘Shut up’.”

Sawsan Abu Omar, MCIPR
PR & Communications Professional



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