I was stalking my computer guy this morning because I think I've got to get a new hard drive for my almost new computer (bang head here) and, as I'm sure he hears from everyone in his store, I needed my computer NOW. As he waited (and waited and waited) for my computer to try and boot up, we got on an interesting topic.
The weird things that go viral.
This started when he asked me what I did for work and basically why I was so manic to get my computer back. When I told him that I worked in social media and content marketing, he just shook his head.
"I know I should be doing it," he said. "I just don't have the time."
I then patiently explained that that's exactly why I have a job.
Anyway, he started rattling off all of these topics that he should address on his own neglected Facebook account - net neutrality, simple tutorials - and I was nodding and agreeing with him, explaining how it's actually the simple stuff that we know as experts that others don't get and want to learn about that we need to get out there into the world.
Then we started talking about all of the people we've heard of who have become YouTube sensations, cashing in in ways we couldn't even imagine...just by doing something simple.
There's the kid who just plays with and reviews toys. The father and son team that takes things apart. He started talking about how he's into RC cars and there was a guy who was living in his mother's basement and filming simple tutorials on how to fix things on remote control cars. Now he's a multimillionaire, married, with his own lake.
It's what most of us wish for, right? It's like winning the lottery. Only it's not. Because the lottery is overnight. One minute you're poor, the next minute you're rich. Winning the lottery skips all of those middle steps.
And, while it seems like many of those people have struck gold overnight, that's usually not the case.
Going viral is partially just dumb luck, but there are other components to it as well. And, like most things, they're easier than you might think.
YES. That kid who tests toys started in 2015. As I write this, his videos have been viewed 17,869,910,726 times. He has over 10 million subscribers. But more importantly...I can't even count the number of videos he has. He (and his parents) are consistently devoting time to this project. And it's paid off.
Come on. You know you've gotten hooked on some random make-up tutorial. Or you can't figure out how to do something so you look for the easiest explanation - three steps or less to completely re configuring your computer. For crying out loud, I have a friend who is hooked on watching chefs ice cakes because she feels like it's soothing. Don't make it too hard!
And, in most cases, the tutorials we watch don't have a high-production value. They're filmed in someone's home on a simple webcam or something. Sure, some of these people who are now getting paid to do this have stepped up their game. But the point is that we like watching people we can relate to do things because then we feel like we can do them, too.
Which tutorial are you doing to watch about creating an autoresponder in MailChimp or trouble-shooting your refrigerator? The one that's 30 minutes long or the one that's 7 minutes long? How about an article on investing $5,000 for home improvements to get a $10,000 return? Do you want that to be three pages or three bullet points? Simple, simple simple.
It can happen to you.
I've actually gone viral once. And I can tell you that all of these things were the reason why. I'd been blogging for years, so I had developed a following. I wrote a quick and simple blog that was skimmable, but full of information. Seriously - it took me 10 minutes and a week later I had 2 million views.
But we don't know when it's going to happen, what's going to resonate, and what's going to take off. If we all knew the secret formula, we would all be going viral all the time and then we'd have to find a way to top that. What would that be?