Last Wednesday started our as any other work day. I was deep into my work when I decided that I needed a short break and decided to catch up on my social media. I chanced across an interesting post and since it resonated with me, I decided to share it with my friends on Facebook. Nothing unusual. This is something I had done dozens of times before.
Later in the evening, I once again checked my Facebook and was pleasantly surprised that my recent Facebook post had garnered quite a bit of likes and shares from my friends. What surprised me more was that friends who had never liked, shared or commented on my posts before did. Wow! I said to myself. This was indeed an interesting post and thought nothing further about it.
The next morning, a check of my Facebook account showed that I had garnered a considerable amount of likes and shares. More than I had before, but no where in the thousands as I only had 589 Facebook friends. Once again I was pleased and mentally patted myself on the back.
Things started to change around lunch time when I received a whatsapp message with a screen shot of my Facebook post from a friend saying that Mr Brown had shared my post. I was shocked. This was just the beginning. More messages came in from friends complimenting me on a great post. Then it started. More Singapore social media influencers picked up on Mr Brown's posts and started to share. Very soon, I was on Mothership, Kaki News Network, All Singapore Stuff and Talking Singapore to name a few. My simple post had gone viral.
I must admit that for someone working in the domain of social media, we constantly work to get our client's contents to go viral. I have had good success over the years, but this is the first time that I can confidently and without hesitation say, that a post of mine has achieved the very definition of viral. Not many in Singapore can lay claim that.
Going viral has taught me three important lessons ....
While the content is important, the network is more so. This is because the content that I shared is literally not new. There had been several versions of it on the internet for some time, but it did not go viral. In fact, I had merely shared a post that I saw.
Importance of Influencers. Like it or not, some netizens are more influential than others. It could be because of their fan base, or their position in society or even the public perception that they "represent" the ground, whatever it is, an important step to get your content to go viral is catch the attention of these influencers. As influencers watch influencers, getting shared by one will create a momentum.
Going Viral is Not a Science. Much as social media consultants will claim that they can make your Facebook posts go viral, despite having gone viral myself, I still firmly believe that it is impossible to guarantee. This is because the factors involved are extremely dynamic. Besides the content and the network, how the Facebook post resonates with netizens is also an important factor which unfortunately is more art than science.
In short, social media marketers who want to go viral, should focus on building their networks and their ability to identify what resonates with netizens. With this as the backdrop, going viral will be only a "correct" post away.