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Photo Credit: Rego – via Compfight cc

Viral content can create an advantage for a brand, provided it remains well within the boundaries of your posts’ intended meaning but when is it too late to jump on the bandwagon? 

Posting for the sake of posting or ‘just because’ is certain to leave your following either scratching their heads or being certain you’ve let yourself (ergo, brand) go. So how can you be sure your post belongs on the page? Read on to find out more.

Outraged at the very suggestion that you might be prone to posting boring or overdone material? Let’s take a second to reflect on the definition of what makes a video, image or gif go viral.

For some, a popular image shared among the majority of their friends may be well known in their own circles while it remains almost completely unrecognised in further reaches, although this certainly expands with time.

So, what constitutes a viral video?

A viral video or image is content that becomes popular through the sharing of that image on all web platforms, be it email, social media, clip sharing sites or any other.

Below is a listing of just a few of the webs most worn-out clips that you’ve almost certainly seen:

  • Charlie bit my Finger
  • PSY, ‘Gangnam Style’
  • Susan Boyles Debut
  • Trapped in an Elevator

Most often, viral videos capture an element of great humour, quirkiness, art or even simply something that strikes a chord with a significant number of people and those who share and appreciate it. Viral content could also penetrate into darker corners of the net with cyber-bullying, violent behaviours caught on camera, political backlash or any other material with a highly emotional value that viewers feel compelled to watch.

How does viral material evolve?

It’s important to remember that the web is a place for new ideas to thrive. Every site owner should understand the life span of viral material in order to avoid being branded with the absolutely uncool label of being a slow-poster.

Take for example, the lifespan of “Fenton the Dog”, sporting 11,077,547 views on YouTube to date and was originally shared in mid-2011. Though admittedly, ‘Fenton’ remains a huge favourite, you’d be wrong to suppose Fenton still holds a place on your post list of current affairs. (You can still see Fenton here).

Stage One: Conception of the Viral Video

A reliable source sends you a link to an image or a video you’ve never seen or heard of before. It’s fresh material, only perhaps a week or so since the shooting date. YouTube hits are still in triple maybe quadruple figures. At this point in time it’s possible that along with only a few others as lucky as you, you’re witnessing something beautiful, entertaining and unique. You may be among the first to witness the birth of a soon-to-be viral image.

Want maximum credibility? Now is the time to share.

Stage Two: Adolescence of the Viral Video

Hopefully you’ve posted the content if it’s still relevant because it’s popping up all over your newsfeed on Facebook and your friends may be sending you email links from a variety of hosts of that same content too. During this time you may see some high quality memes or low quality renditions based on the idea of the content, (For example, Best Cry Ever Auto Tuned,  or Sneezing Panda Explodes!)

Posting now? You may be better off posting a particularly creative viewers’ remix.

Stage Three: Death of the Viral Video

According to certain statistics, viral images typically die young. Content may circulate slowly at first but will gain momentum at an increasing rate and when the content reaches you outside the net, it’s time to give up the ghost. Unless the content holds particularly strong relevance, you should only supply it as a reference when posting to social media channels. Do not post content that you overheard someone chatting to their friends about, it’s likely that viral information may be on its way out.

Posting now? But it’s almost time for your afternoon nap?

Stage Four: Viral Content – the Afterlife

It’s one thing to compromise your innovative integrity and post a dead or dying viral image, but quite another to remember it in a post and pay homage to it further down the track.

Posting now? This is where it may be acceptable for you to remember the content to your followers – many people still love a well-placed ‘Dramatic Chipmunk’

Remembering Keyboard Cat: How much viral content should I post?

This is a tough question to answer, mainly because even though the web is a breeding ground for any given number of creatively developed potential viral images and clips, it’s also known as a home base for done and dusted, re-polished cult-followings of the content material we’ve already shared, loved and now grown tired of. The trick is to stick with contextual and relatable material in every single thing you post. Is it current? Does it matter? Do your followers care?

If it’s enthusiasm, respect and interest you want to create around your posts and let’s be honest, every site owner wants those things, then it’s absolutely critical that you maintain that vital fresh approach when you update your content. Taking risks should always be about something new to you rather than content that is comfortable and already proven. Don’t wait for the next viral video to come to you, go looking for it yourself!

What’s your favourite all time viral image or clip? Feel free to get it all out of your system in the comments below.

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