Can an Author or Blogger MAKE Their Content Go Viral?

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viral book marketingRecently, I had a reader ask me, “What viral marketing strategy can I use to promote my book?”

My answer was simple. Any experienced writer knows that the idea of a “viral marketing strategy” is a complete myth. People who believe it exists are doomed to failure.

Think about it. If there were a “viral marketing strategy,” everyone would be doing it, and everyone would be rich. But that’s not happening.

So, can you successfully sell books or promote your blog on social media? Yes, it is happening every day.

What Does it Mean to “Go Viral”?

“Viral” means something is circulated rapidly and widely. You can’t plan that. It is a random, spontaneous event, and no one can control the phenomena.

But whether something goes viral is not dependent on the marketer—it is dependent on unknown thousands in a network who share what you have said.

As a book author or blogger, you are invisible. Your goal is to become visible to a particular group of people. Some say you only need to find 1,000 core followers. After that, they spread the news about your work to their own networks.

How can you get those 1,000 loyal followers? Social media is the most cost-effect way to do it. Here are ways writers can develop a following who will read their books or regularly visit their blog.

Social Media Best Practices

Let’s look at what I consider to be the best 7 social media techniques. These things make your time on social media worthwhile.

1. Focus Your Attention on Only Three Social Media Platforms

Pick three different social media platforms. They can be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever you like. Don’t try to post everywhere. “Focus on three and let it be.”

Most people think that if they are on a dozen platforms or a dozen groups on Facebook, they will just that much more exposure. That’s not necessarily true. Find your tribe and give them some quality attention.

2. Post to Each Platform Each Day

With advanced planning, you will only need to invest about 15 minutes per day to gain visibility.

If there is any magic in the process, it is consistency. Comic Woody Allen said, “80% of success in life is just showing up.” Consistency is the key.

By the way, when you make your daily visits to the three social media sites you’ve chosen, post and then move on. Don’t let social media became a distraction that kills your writing productivity.

3. Be Single-Minded

So, related to this, when you post on social media, remember that your single-minded purpose is to drive traffic back to your book sales page or blog post.

You never want to drive your site visitors to social media unless people will “Share” your content with their network.

Getting “Likes” is usually a waste of time. It helps the social media platform sell advertising, but it doesn’t necessarily get traffic to your site. The social media site gets the benefit of your hard work when you drive traffic to social media sites.

4. Build a Reputation as an Influencer

Gain a reputation on social media for being a resource person. That is, your goal is to help others achieve their goals.

You have written books or blog posts to inform or entertain, and you want to make others aware of the fact that you know your stuff in a friendly, helpful way.

Regardless of your topic, you want to project your area of expertise into your social media exchanges. Be helpful. Become known as the “go-to” person on your topic area.

5. Don’t Beg or Boast

Don’t beg or boast. Many people beg for followers or beg them to take action of one kind or another. That ultimately drives people away. Yes, it is acceptable to ask them to sign-up for your newsletter or buy your book, but be professional about it.

Also, don’t boast on social media. That’s a character flaw. Sure, let people know your credentials. There is nothing wrong with that in the proper context. But don’t abuse readers by telling people how great you think you are.

6. Don’t Fear Criticism

Don’t fear criticism. Yeah, this is a big one today. Everyone has an opinion about what you say. In our highly-stressed times, most people have two or three opinions on the same topic.

And people can be hateful and mean. How do you handle such people? Just delete them. They have tortured souls who have nothing to offer anyone.

Should you ignore reasonable criticism? No, you should consider all reasonable suggestions. But you are under no obligation to accept it. Weigh the criticism. Adopt what is helpful and reject what is unhelpful.

The flip side of this is that you should be kind when you interact with people on social media. Too many people on social media have a reputation for being acerbic. No one likes a sharp-tongued person. So, simply be kind when you share on social media. The world needs more kindness, and you can help defuse our polarized society.

7. Interact with Your Tribe

You will build a tribe of followers over time. You want to make friends with these like-minded people. Therefore, you want to engage them as much as possible.

How do you do that? Thank people for their comments. Answer their questions. Refer them to a resource. Expand on the ideas you have shared. Ask them questions. When you show people you care about them they will care about you and your writing.

The Bottom Line

Should you try to “go viral” with your social media posts? No. There is no way you can predict what will be popular.

However, one thing is sure. If you don’t post something fascinating on your three social media sites each day, you kill your chances of going viral. Consistent posting is no guarantee, but you’re more like a person working a slot machine looking to get lucky.

If you do identify a certain type of post that gets more attention than others, you want to repeat success with similar posts.

But realize that most of your posts will not get much attention. Don’t expect overnight success. However, just a few posts that get special attention can make a big difference in your audience or sales numbers.

Your goal is to build your good reputation and to build traffic to your book sales page or blog over the long haul. Gaining a following takes time and effort, but the payoff can be excellent.


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