What to Do When Your Content Goes Viral

Hey guys. Today we’re going to talk about what you should do when your content goes viral. This was sparked by a question from a listener who has had an incredible experience over the past week.

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Listen to today’s episode here:

Or, read the show notes below (this isn’t a full transcript, but 80% is here):

Today’s question comes from Tim Lawrence. Tim says:

My last blog post has gone viral. I have no idea why it happened–I didn’t do any marketing–I just sent it to my list and FB as normal. But a few days ago I started getting a flurry of emails and comments and so I did a quick analytics check and found that I’ve had tens of thousands of page views just in the past two days. Wow. That’s never happened before.

My question is this: should I “do” anything? … I’ve already gotten more emails and comments than I could possibly respond to…but if you think there’s anything I should do I’d appreciate your input. My sense is that I don’t need to do much; the piece has kind of taken on a life of its own. I guess that’s why they call it “viral” :)

And today I got a follow up from Tim, who tells me the post has been… get ready for this… it has been shared over 400,000 times, mostly on Facebook (which now has jumped to 458k times), and Tim has had over a million visits to the post on his site in less than a week.

Tim went on to say:

The support has been immense and I’m so thankful. The only marketing-ish thing I did do was add a mailing list signup to the navigation pane…it had been in the footer the past year (which I know is not ideal), but it had been fine with a more modest audience. If there’s anything I want to “get out of this” it’s more readers, so I made it easier to sign up.

I know this is every blogger’s dream and I know it won’t last forever, but wow. Just wow. This is an incredibly surreal experience. I’m just sitting with it, letting it ride, and feeling profound gratitude.

Wow, is right. This is such an interesting case study. This has to be one of the most viral blog posts of this week, if not this month. 458k shares in under a week? That’s insane.

First, why did this post go viral? Tim says he didn’t promote it at all. It’s clear to me, looking at the post that Tim simply struck a major chord with people. The title of the post is “Everything Doesn’t Happen for a Reason.”

Think about this for a minute. That simple little phrase “everything happens for a reason” is something almost everyone knows. Some people recite it all the time. Other people cringe when they hear it.

Tim took the phrase and turned it around. In the post, Tim talks specifically about loss and injury, and how ridiculous it is to tell someone that everything happens for a reason, when clearly it doesn’t.

This post is the perfect example of an epic post. It makes people think and causes a strong reaction.

Anyway, go read the whole post. Tim makes many great points, and this is clearly a subject he’s very close to. It’s a great post. Read Everything Doesn’t Happen for a Reason »

So, back to Tim’s questions about the post, not about the content, but about what to do with his new popularity.

I happen to know that Tim is on a sabbatical of sorts. He wonders if he should do anything to capture the attention, or if he should just honor his sabbatical. That’s certainly a reasonable answer. You committed to taking time off, aside from writing now and then, so keep that committment.

But beyond that, what if Tim really wants to make the most of this post? Opportunities like this don’t come around often. This post now accounts for more visitors to Tim’s site than 99% of blogs will ever experience. If Tim was able to turn just a small portion of those visitors into regular readers or fans, this post could change his whole trajectory.

OK, I have four things Tim should think about doing. I already shared these with Tim:

  • First, turn off comments, remove the spammy garbage and make this easier for you to manage (Tim is on a sabbatical and has little time to manage this).
  • Next, introduce yourself in the post. Near the end, tell people who you are and what your site is all about. Let them know what to expect if they stick around.
  • Next, add an opt-in offer to the end of the post, with a direct call to action to subscribe to your email list.
  • Finally, syndicate the post on bigger sites to reach other audiences. No rush on this. Because of the popularity of the post, other sites will be happy to run a version of it.

Thanks Tim for sending in today’s question, and huge congrats on the breakthrough. This post is the perfect example of what plain old good writing can do.

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That’s all for today, tune in tomorrow for our regular weekly show format. Have a great one.

-Corbett

I'm Corbett Barr, co-founder of Fizzle and entrepreneur for a decade. Get my weekly curated email of useful things for independent entrepreneurs »

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