Why Brands Should Avoid Going Viral
By Victoria Ramos
In 2020, viral marketing has become a common tactic especially in the world of influencers. Those couple minutes or days of fame bring a lot of publicity to a brand or name but can have many downfalls.
Sprout Social defines viral marketing as “a style of promotion that relies on an audience to generate the message of a product or service.” Viral marketing works when people resonate with a brand’s message or something that is buzz-worthy. While these one-off moments make sense and many brands turn toward this strategy, it’s important to think of the bigger picture for a brand.
Before a brand or person decides to shoot for the stars and make themselves go viral, it’s important to remember the consequences that come with internet fame. There are millions of examples of how going viral by accident or planned actually made things much worse, or even brought an end to a brand’s name or someone’s career.
In the world we live in today, cancel culture has become increasingly popular. Cancel culture is when people come together to promote cancelling out celebrities, influencers, movies, tv shows, brands, etc. for something they have done or said. This devastating trend has put an end to many reputations and tends to happen once they’ve gone viral. It happens because going viral is like being put under a microscope and under constant observation. Every little detail including personal or past information can be looked at, which leads to a lot more being shared than was originally intended. The internet is not a friendly place so one wrong move and it can cause a riot.
While being in the limelight and under a microscope may seem like a good idea to build brand awareness, it’s possible it won’t attract the right audience. Getting a big group of irrelevant people to focus on the brand will not produce the intended outcome. This group will either cause negativity, which can lead to cancel culture, or won’t remember who the brand is and what they did in the next couple of days. It’s much better to spend the time and money on a smaller, more targeted group that actually relates to the brand versus wasting the money and time on becoming the next big hit, that is until the next big thing comes along and everyone’s moved on.
Another consequence of going viral is how much value a brand can lose once the spotlight is no longer on them. Sure, for the next couple of days or weeks it might be all anyone is talking about, but after a while people get bored and stop caring. This goes hand in hand with attracting the wrong audience. Even after this audience has invested so much into the viral thing that was done, it can go away in the blink of an eye because of so many different things happening on the interent.
Virality usually happens by accident or by doing something bold that will catch people’s attention. People will either hate or love it and when they hate it, it can destroy a brand. All the negative opinions about the brand can cause them to earn a bad reputation and completely lose their value due to this one incident that made them go viral. It’s a 50/50 chance so it’s important to think, is it worth the risk?
Bad publicity definitely does exist and gaining brand awareness overnight might not work for everyone. Slow and steady might be the best way for many to get into the public eye and captivate the right audience.
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