Viral or Evergreen Content?

October 30, 2014
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Personally, I don’t like the “V” word, Viral. Whenever a client uttered the words, “We want something that will go viral,” I would cringe. There is plenty of thought on what makes a piece of content go viral, but truth be told, very little goes viral.

Jeff Bullas recently wrote a post about a post he said had “gone viral”. The post received over 122,000 views, retweeted over 6,000 times and shared on Facebook over 3,500 times. The article was “30 Things You Should Not Share On Social Media“.

Sure, one can be insanely jealous of his number and while personally never being fortunate enough to receive that kind of sharing on my personal blog that was not my definition of viral. But then again when I really sat down to think about it, I based my definition of viral on video views. It used to be that a Youtube video was not considered viral until it had a million views and less than 1% of all the videos on YouTube had a million views.

Not all content goes immediately viral despite the best laid plans. The real power of great content is its sustainability over time. Also known as evergreen content, Jeff Bullas refers to this as “slow viral content.” But brands rarely have the tolerance or patience for the long-tail effect of content, instead opting for quick wins.

Viral is a very relative term – relative to other content.
If you normally get 100 pageviews and you jump to 5,000 that is a viral success for that content producer. Viral for a newer blogger, and viral for The Onion mean two different things. Everything doesn’t have to rise to the level of Internet Memedom in order to be viral.

There are also more than just views at play – velocity matters just as much. A truly viral thing should experience rapid growth in proliferation and sharing over a short time.

Shouldn’t the brand’s goal be sustained, quality content over time?

I would argue that it is more important for a brand to create great content and sustain it over time rather than to strive for the one-hit wonder. The brand built on a solid foundation of engaging content that reflects the needs of its customers and prospects is the smarter strategy. Content that is useful or entertaining and created with an eye to longevity will be the content that wins in the long run. This campaign I worked on with Michelle Phan 4 years ago had not reached the million view mark and today is on its way to 7MM views without another investment dollar contributed. We watch our influencers’ content increase in engagement over time long after the campaign has ended continuing to grow in earned media value. Brands and retailers should ask for evergreen or the “e” word instead of the “v” word.

Here are 4 great examples from our influencers whose posts have an appetite for evergreen success.

  1. The Nerds Wife
    231,133 pins and growing
  2. The Domestic Superhero
    Over 55,000 pins
  3. ShugarySweets
    Over 200,000+ pins
  4. Dishin” With Rebelle
    150,000+ pins
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