Something I keep running into when I talk with lawyers about social media and video is the idea of “going viral.” I quickly realized that this appears to have become the main focus for most of their marketing efforts and they were trying to find a way to game the system to earn likes, shares, and comments on social media.
What is “viral?”
” “Going viral” refers to the fact that your content resonates so enormously that it catches on fire, and ends up being the latest big thing across the internet. It is when your content gets liked, retweeted, republished, commented on, blogged about, talked about on the streets of LA to Viti Levu, and it earns you more views than your wildest dreams could ever have imagined.” Source
If a video, blog post, or any other content you create go viral, it can be incredibly powerful for your business. It is also unrealistic to have the expectation that your content will go viral, even if you are the coolest lawyer in the world.
Why is it unrealistic to expect that your video/blog/graphic will go viral?
According to this study by Standford University, less than 1% of online content will go viral. That leaves 99% that won’t. Before you turn into Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber and say, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…” consider just how few lawyer videos go viral compared to cute cat videos.
Additionally, one piece of viral content can get you fifteen minutes of fame but businesses need consistent client influx. If the idea of going viral still sounds great to you, think of your phone ringing off the hook for a week and overwhelming you with more business than you can handle. Sounds good, until you realize that your capacity to help more than a few of those people would mean you don’t sleep for a month. And that the majority of calls you will get won’t be real potential clients, leaving you or your firm’s receptionist dealing with the intake of countless non-clients. This generally leads to bad reviews, unhappy clients, and frustrated employees.
With 5 billion pieces of content pushed out on Facebook each day, your viral content will likely soon be forgotten leaving your firm’s phones quiet and your caseload back to normal.
Consistent, good content and links will do far more for the long-term health of your law firm than one video that turns you into the Batman Lawyer- or whatever viral scheme you had in mind.
How does something go viral?
Typically, the content that goes viral is pushed out on a major platform to a large audience. While this does happen, it is rare that a small business will publish something that then reaches a large enough audience to blast into viral space. Most viral content will have an original viewership of more than 10,000 and closer to 100,000. Think SuperBowl commercials, celebrity shares, and YouTube influencers.
Without going viral, here’s how to build your online presence:
- Keep it short, to the point and interesting. Unless it is a larger, in-depth topic. Then feel free to write a short novel about the subject or create a short movie. If your audience engaging with it and converting into clients, that’s all that matters. Another possibility with longer content is taking that longer piece and parsing it down to bite-sized chunks.
- Do things that help, delight, or educate. If your content doesn’t fall into one or more of these areas, it probably won’t resonate.
- Be consistent – post regularly and follow a content schedule that allows people to look forward to specific posts.
Still want to “go viral?” Check out these resources:
– The Digital Marketing Institute has a great post about what viral content had in common.
– Lifewire has 10 practical tips that could really help you get more views.
– Rand Fishkin & Moz created this video to help you get in front of influencers. Be careful with this approach as a law firm. If your brand is flashy, feel free, but if you are the everyman lawyer you run a high risk of turning off potential clients.