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The Truth About Going Viral

Published 13 days ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader,

The other day, I was wasting time on X.

I came across a profile reading, “We help you go viral on command”.

That’s an impressive promise.

I read some of the account’s tweets.

The company shared examples from client accounts, all with thousands of shares.

The tweets were mostly easy-to-read pop culture listicles with captivating pictures.

Perhaps the X account holder has a red “Go Viral” button in their office.

Perhaps they use paid promotions and bots.

Or perhaps they’ve cracked the Twitter algo.

Whatever their secret…

Virality is a fleeting form of social proof.

It’s fun when it happens, but it won’t always help you achieve your goals.

I’ve written several viral articles for Forbes, Medium, and my website.

A few years ago, I spent hours writing a massive guide to journaling, thousands of words long and with thousands of readers.

Medium paid me approximately $200, but not enough to justify the time spent on the article.

A few weeks ago, I published something on Facebook that got over 300,000 shares and thousands of likes.

Most of those fans didn’t do much beyond hitting the like button.

I worked as a copywriter for a B2B company for a few years. The team wanted to create a Christmas ad that would go viral on YouTube.

The company spent thousands on YouTube ads to hit their numbers.

Afterwards, they used the woolly concept of “raising brand awareness” to call the campaign successful.

Did brand awareness translate into more sales? We never found out.

A while ago, I wanted to grow my YouTube channel.

Shorts are all the rage these days.

So, I spent a week or two recording a few dozen.

One of them, about Taylor Swift’s writing routine, went viral on Instagram.

It didn’t do much for my account, though.

I won’t lie.

Going viral is a nice dopamine booster.

Who doesn’t like seeing the numbers go up?

But…

Views, likes, and shares don’t always translate into more followers.

A few people will SMASH the bell or subscribe button, but most viral content consumers swipe on for their next hit.

Even then…

Don’t expect a straight line from more followers to more money in your bank account.

I’ve met and interviewed dozens of creators and writers with comparatively small audiences.

They don’t care about likes, shares, and follower counts.

They’re more interested in earning a living from writing and creating online than racking up shares.

If I’d invested the same energy into writing a new book, creating a course, or sourcing clients, I’d have something more substantial than impressive social stats.

I’d also have earned more money.

These days, I’ve abandoned chasing more followers, likes, and shares.

Writing on social media is still a great way of connecting with ideal readers.

But I only do it with one goal: convince engaged readers to join my newsletter.

I’d rather write a daily email to a small engaged group of readers than grow a mega social media account.

I can help these readers and earn more that way, too.

So, the next time you feel jealous of another creator’s account, ask yourself this question:

Do you want hundreds of likes and shares?

Or do you want to get paid?

Write on,
Bryan Collins

PS I’m holding a workshop in a few days to help writers build a profitable newsletter. For more info, reply and ask.

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