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On April 22nd, Anchin is hosting Coinvent Media Summit 2015 in New York with an impressive lineup of speakers and panelists. I don’t know how I made the cut, but I hope to see you there.

My panel is with:

Chad Parizman – Director, Convergent Media @ Scripps Networks Interactive

Ethan Fedida – Senior Social Media Editor, Strategic Partnership Manager @ The Huffington Post

Bryan Nye – Social Media Analyst @ Henry Schein

Michael Belfer, CPA, CGMA – Partner @ Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP

The subject is how to create viral movements with digital media.

Going Viral is Bad?

The benefits of going viral are obvious to most. How you might get there is an art form as much as it’s a science. And it’s exactly the topic of an upcoming panel, so here’s the link one more time. If you’re in NYC area, I really hope you join us.

However, in this article I’d like to address three reasons why going viral is bad.

1. Virality Costs Money

A while back I spoke at a Brand Innovators conference where Fernando Machado [one of the masterminds behind the hugely successful Dove campaign] said that Unilever didn’t spend any money on making the Dove campaign go viral.

This is the video in question, I’m sure you’ve seen it.

Virality for free certainly sounds very impressive. No money was spend, the campaign was a huge success. It all sounds like a giant win in Unilever’s column.


In his very next breath, Fernando mentioned that there was a team of about 24 people [if my memory serves] who made up the core team, with various experts who got hired to execute different phases of the project.

For example, a creative team was assembled in order to conceive of the idea, the videographer was hired to shoot the video, a sketch artist was hired to sketch, people were invited to participate, coordinators were hired to coordinate, the editor was hired in order to put the asset together for user consumption, and so on.

If we assume that about 40-50 people were involved in making the Dove campaign a reality for a better part of the year, we come to the conclusion that the Dove campaign was indeed very costly. My guess is about 2 million dollars in salaries alone.

This is the kind of cost that most startups and content creators simply can’t afford.

However, Fernando and his team did accomplish something incredible; virality on Dove’s terms.

As the Dove campaign spread, the message that Dove wanted to deliver didn’t get appropriated and twisted by someone else. Which is more than I can say for our next example.

2. Virality Usually Backfires

When a corporation does spend millions of dollars to put a “free” viral campaign together, it usually backfires.

The most recent example is Starbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign.

On this podcast, my better half Jillian Jackson and I discuss #RaceTogether campaign on Web.Search.Social podcast with hosts Ralph M. Rivera and Carol Lynn Rivera.

I hope you’ll bookmark it and give it a listen when you have more time.

In case you’re not familiar with the campaign, here’s the short of it.

Starbucks forced its employees to initiate a discussion with customers about racism. I’ll spare you the details, but the campaign concluded with most people feeling dumbfounded by it.

John Oliver captures the sentiment quite nicely.

In other words, Starbucks couldn’t accomplish what Dove did. Starbucks’ campaign got derailed by the controversy, while Dove’s message remained unchanged as it spread.

And while I disagree with Fernando on the point that Dove’s virality came for free, I admire him and his team on their ability to keep the campaign “on message”.

And just for good measure, I’ll insert another example here.

Last year, NYPD launched a campaign asking Twitter users to submit pictures of themselves posing with NYPD cops and use the hashtag #mynypd, promising some would be posted to the NYPD Facebook page.

Within hours, a deluge of images depicting police brutality, violence and controversial tactics started trending on Twitter. Source

Virality usually backfires, in a big way.

3. Virality = Traffic and Traffic = Bad

Most people think that traffic is good. I’m here to tell you that traffic is bad.

If you opened a coffee shop and had 1000s of people walk through it every day but no one purchased anything, you’d have traffic, but you would also be broke.

It’s no different online. For example.

My goal with this site is not to bring traffic to it. My goal is to bring highly targeted visitors who will take some action. For example, sharing this post would be nice and convenient for you. Simply click here.

Another goal of mine is to have you join Triberr. It’s a place where you can get more shares for your content and it’s not for everyone. It’s for bloggers, podcasters, and YouTubers. If you don’t fit one of those categories, I really don’t care if you see my content or not.

And your goal should be the same. Get highly targeted visitors, rather than riff-raff, and riff-raff is exactly what virality brings in.

It’s worth asking why everybody thinks that traffic is so desirable?

It’s because traffic IS desirable if what you’re selling is ad space. For everybody else, traffic is a cost center.

Look around. Do you see any ads? What about your online property, are you showing ads on your site?

If the answer is “no, I show no ads”, then traffic [and virality] shouldn’t be your goal. If the answer is “yes, I have ads”, then ask yourself how much money are you making with those ads and how much are you hurting yourself by having those ads on your site, and reconsider.

Sorry if that got little preachy :-)

Doing it Right

For all those reasons and more, going viral is bad. However, if you still want to know how it’s done the right way, join me at CoInvent.

Coinvent Media Summit 2015

Super Relevant

How To Make Your Content Go Viral

Will Upworthy type headline work for you? A startling conclusion. 

The surprising truth about why people share explained in under a minute

self-confidenceIn this episode of Road To TED, Mike Brooks and I interview Matt Abrahams who is a lecturer at Stanford University, and an author of Speaking Up Without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques For Confident, Calm and Competent Presenting.

We talk about one of my favorite topics; Confidence. Matt is an expert on it.

This episode clocks in at around 60 minutes, so if you don’t have the time, bookmark this page for later.

You can subscribe to Road To TED on iTunes or Stitcher, and you can get the latest episodes in my iPhone app.

eofireFew weeks ago I did an interview with Mr. Podcast himself, John Lee Dumas of the Entrepreneur on Fire fame. John asked me about my biggest failure and I told him about the time I forgot to renew Triberr domain name. 

That day will live in infamy for me. It was most definitely the worst of times, but in retrospect, it was also the best of times. In this short video you can hear the excerpt from out interview. Full interview is here.

I reference a blog post I published during that time, which is saved for posterity here.

For those of you reading this post via Triberr, RSS, or email, click here to watch the video.

For those of you reading this inside my mobile app which you can preview and download here, switch over to the Watch button to see the latest videos.

get-ranked-1st-on-GoogleWould you like to beat out all your namesakes and dominate Google’s search results page? If yes, then you’ve come to the right place.

This quick video is an excerpt from my guest appearance on Social Media Unscrambled with David Deutsch and Chris Curran. You can hear the full episode here.

I share a 100% guaranteed method for ranking first for your name in Google search results (or any other search engine).

I know that sounds like an over-promise, but in this case I feel confident making such an outlandish statement because this methodology is full proof.

For those of you reading this post via Triberr, RSS, or email, click here to watch the video.

For those of you reading this inside my mobile app which you can preview and download here, switch over to the Watch button to see the latest videos.

For those of you who are on my blog, enjoy.