Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
One of our clients recently had a blog post go viral, with more than 2 million visitors in the matter of two days. Wanting to take advantage of this surprise event, Jennifer asked us agents what to do. Here’s what we told her.
Encourage readers to subscribe. We all know how hard it is to get people to our blogs. Once they’ve arrived, read your blog and possibly commented, they’re engaged with you. Make sure it’s easy for them to stay engaged by having a clear way for them to subscribe. Go back into your viral post and add an invitation for them to subscribe in the post itself. (In the matter of two days, more than 700 individuals had subscribed to Jennifer’s blog.)
Make it easy for readers to connect with you via social media. Jennifer added links to her Facebook and Twitter pages at the bottom of her viral blog post.
Analyze what made this post go viral. (You can read Jennifer’s blog post here.) In this American Sniper blog post,Jennifer:
- Created an eye-catching title,
- Wrote about a topic of the moment,
- Offered an honest opinion without worrying about those who would disagree with her,
- Chose a controversial subject (some billboards advertising the film are defaced with words such as “murderer”).
Figure out how your post fits in your brand. Jennifer had no idea this post would garner such attention. When she realized it had gone viral, she needed to figure out how to keep those readers connected with her and her blog. That meant thinking about how the blog could inform her brand. Part of the reason the blog connected with people was because the subject was a hot button in our pop culture conversation.
Jennifer realized that she inherently is interested in exploring cultural topics in her novels. Why not make her blog a place to talk about cultural topics we disagree on? With her blog, she could overtly write about the issues she wanted to explore in more subtle ways through her fiction.
By pondering how the blog post fit in her brand, Jennifer ended up refining how she views her brand.
If you connect with readers in a powerful way through one blog post or one Facebook entry, think through what caused you to create that item to begin with. How can you link that motivation to your brand?
I want to stress that I’m not suggesting you change what you write about, but it might make sense for you to change how you think about what you write and to be more intentional in the choices you make.
Regularly write posts that are imbued with the same factors that made the first one go viral. I noticed that, when I went back to Jennifer’s blog a few days after the viral post, she had written a pop culture post entitled, “The American Bubble: A Follow Up to American Sniper Post.” You can read it here. Comments were way down from the American Sniper blog, but that’s to be expected. Lightning probably won’t strike in the same place twice, but then again…
How can you monetize a viral blog? You can’t. When a post goes viral, there is no warning, no time to prepare, and no way to capture all the energy such an event releases.
But what you can do is set your goals to grow your online connections, to become more of an authority who writes regularly on a topic or in a category, and to let what readers respond to inform your brand. When you see regular readership continuing to go up and when people remain engaged with you, then you can start to think about ways to monetize.
When you do look at monetizing options, be sure everything you sell is true to your brand. Don’t put music ads on your blog page if you write about being a mom, unless you are promoting lullabies or music for a mom to relax with. Be sure your readers can look at your sidebar of ads and think everything offered there makes sense. Those ads can actually add to ways you build your brand. But those decisions are a ways down the road from the day your blog turns viral.
I know that some social media experts believe that, when you experience a viral response to some contribution you’ve made to the Internet, there’s no way to capture lightning in a jar. But I believe, if you respond smartly, you can benefit long-term from that millisecond of major attention.
What examples can you think of when something went viral online? Did you participate by sharing, commenting, or taking part in some other way?
The Ice Bucket Challenge videos and photos showcase another way in which social media can create a viral sweep.
What should you do when your blog goes viral? Click to tweet.
What makes a blog go viral? Click to tweet.