Will you be ready if a post on your business blog goes viral? There are many resources online about growing your audience, increasing engagement, and attracting the right readers for your blog. But what happens when you do your job too well?
In honor of International Panic Day on June 18th, let’s take a look at the best way to manage a sudden spike in popularity.
What Is “Viral” Anyway?
You see a funny picture, read a heartwarming article, or come across an informative post and decide to share it with your friends. Then they share it with their friends, and before you know it, the link has spread throughout the great web of social media.
“Going viral” means different things to different blogs. According to writer Brian Hutchison, “a viral blog post is one that has an extremely high number of shares compared to the number of shares for your average post.” For a blog like Huffington Post, going viral might mean hundreds of thousands of shares. For a niche business blog, it might mean five, ten, or a hundred shares–the point is that it’s significantly more than your usual traffic.
Don’t be afraid to dream big and prepare for success! Blogger Kristin Oliphant recommends getting your house in order: “You want your links to be noticeable at the top of your page and be sure all the links are correct. If I like a post, the very first thing I will do is go follow that person on my favorite social media channels. Don’t make people search for where to connect unless you don’t want to connect.”
Make sure that all of your contact information is correct, your sidebar links are updated, and your social media and sharing buttons are easy to find. You should also meet with your team, if you have one, to prepare a plan. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, consider the time and resources needed to manage a sudden influx of views, shares, and comments.
When It Hits
Jason Bean, an internet marketer, saw first-hand what happens when a simple act of kindness turns into an internet sensation. A restaurant owner in Indianapolis gave a struggling kid a ride to a job interview, and within two weeks their story was being featured on major news outlets.
Bean asks, “If your social media accounts suddenly lit up, if people from all over the world (in every time zone!) suddenly had questions for you, could you respond to them efficiently and in a timely manner?” Small businesses in particular may find this tidal wave of traffic difficult to deal with, so having a plan in place (and extra help available, if you need it) is the best way to handle a spike on your blog.
It Might Not Be the Post You Expect
Given the nature of the internet, you may be surprised by an older post that suddenly gets noticed. That’s what happened to this fitness blogger, whose months-old post was shared more than 6000 times on Pinterest. The biggest lesson she learned? Check the content to make sure that it doesn’t have any errors, outdated links, or other embarrassing goofs. She advises, “Go back and read your post with a fresh set of eyes. Is it well written? Could you add anything? Are you fine with it being seen by a ton of eyes? Make any changes or updates that you’d like to make.”
If grammar isn’t your strong suit, then ensure that someone on your team is able to proofread your posts. Grammarly’s automated proofreading tool is a great choice, too!
Jeff Goins, a prolific blogger and writing coach, saw his post on travel literally circle the globe on social media. What happened afterward? “The next week, I hit the old grindstone again, and the Internet had already forgotten about me. My traffic spike had mellowed out, and I was back to zero, forced to earn people’s attention all over again.”
While you may be riding high on the wave of attention, keep in mind that viral posts peak quickly. Rather than switching to an all-travel theme for his blog, Goins stuck with his original mission—and the next time a post went viral, he was able to take it in stride. Welcome your new readers–and, as a business blogger, maybe run a coupon or internet special while the traffic is hot–but expect things to go back to normal far quicker than you’d like.
Have you ever had a post go viral? What did you learn from the experience?