The Myth of Going Viral: Why Consistency is a Greater Driver of Digital Marketing Success

Most marketers dream of going viral. After all, what could be better for your brand than having your content shared by thousands and seen by millions? As a leading digital marketing agency in Bangkok, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to having those aspirations as well.

But going viral is far more easily said than done. Many ads are designed to go viral, but very few of them actually do. There are so many intangible ingredients that determine the fate of a piece of content, that’s it’s impossible to come up with a concrete formula for success.

By contrast, building a loyal audience over time is all about following a simple formula that is guaranteed to work if used properly.

Slow and steady wins the race

Internationally acclaimed author and social media marketing consultant Mark Schaefer had this to say on the topic: “There is too much attention placed on the hope of ‘going viral’. I have had several articles go viral, achieving thousands of shares, likes, and comments. Here is how it helped my business: zip.”

Consider this chart that shows the numbers of subscribers to Schaefer’s blog from 2013 to 2019: 


Month by month, quarter by quarter, year by year, his subscriber count kept climbing. It’s interesting to note that Schaefer’s most popular blog ever – Content Shock – was published in January of 2014. The graph shows absolutely no evidence that it had an effect on his overall subscriber numbers. As Schaefer says, “There is no substitute for determined, steady progress.” 

Whether working to grow your company’s brand or your own personal brand, consistently posting informative, helpful, and engaging content is the only surefire way to succeed – and even then, it won’t happen overnight.

Courtship through content

As we’ve said in the past, growing an online following is like pursuing a romantic relationship. At the start, you need to get to know your target – in particular their interests, hobbies, and values. From there, make it your mission to deliver meaningful content that enriches their lives. Just don’t be afraid to be bold and show them different sides of your personality. Faint heart never won fair lady … or in this case, large audience.

But building relationships isn’t simply a matter of cranking out content: Open, two-way communication is key. Solicit feedback from your audience, and engage with them directly whenever possible. This level of communication engenders credibility and trust, and also tells you which way to steer the conversation next.

Staying in constant dialogue with your audience lets you better attend to their needs and build real emotional connections around your brand. In the long run, that kind of stable support will be far more valuable than any new fling that comes out of your 15 minutes of internet fame.


A formula for lasting success

Viral content can have a big impact on culture, but this type of success doesn’t always translate to big sales. And should you be lucky enough to capture lightning in a bottle, you may still find yourself alongside other one-hit wonders with no staying power.

Even worse, some who go viral end up regretting the whole experience. This type of implosion is easier to avoid if the brand has put in the time to build up a solid foundation of values and support – which should be your main aim when producing new content anyway.

Consistently producing quality content will do far more for your brand than any one viral video or blog. Who knows, if you keep working hard, something you produce may very well become an internet phenomenon. You’ll enjoy the moment more by knowing that when the dust settles after the brief whirlwind of viral fame, your loyal audience will still be there by your side.


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