Going Viral: What Does It Mean & How Do I Do It?

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These days, being in the music industry can be difficult. Thanks to social media, the market is incredibly saturated with talented musicians (and not so talented musicians) constantly posting online their new releases, shows, and photo dumps. It's easy to compare yourself to the big hitters or to those who seemingly can go viral with zero effort at all. But, was it really zero effort? Let's dig into that a little deeper. 

Firstly, sure. Some people they can have overnight success. On a platform like TikTok, that outcome is very achievable. I experienced this myself last summer with a TikTok video I posted that was non-music related. It's a short and goofy how-to video about getting the perfect smile in a picture. It's a simple trick my sisters and I always did growing up and I thought I'd make a video about it. So I posted it and completely forgot about it. Two days later, I hopped on TikTok to find my notifications blowing up and that the video had been watched over 12,000 times. Hundreds of users had stitched it and remixed it, trying it out for themselves. It was insane! Everyday, the numbers just kept growing and growing. I went from 52 followers to over 10k in a matter of days, all because of one silly video. 

Now, like I mentioned earlier, this happened last summer. Nothing this gargantuan has happened since. And believe me, I've tried. But that's how virality works, right? It's a fickle thing. People are constantly changing what they're into, thusly, that goes viral mirrors that change. 

But for most people, this overnight "success" story doesn't happen. Even if it may look that way, it's still not what happened. If you look on any influencers profile or have a late night stalk sesh of your favorite celebrity on Wikipedia (we all do it, it's fine), you'll likely discover two things: they've been doing what they do for a long time, and because of the ground work they laid down, going viral or having a hit, was more or less inevitable.

Have you ever read, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell? If not, crawl out from under your rock, pull up your Amazon account, and order it right now. Like, right now. It's a great read with fantastic insights, but it is primarily known for one singular idea: 10,000 hours.

Essentially, Malcolm Gladwell attributes the success, skill, and high-caliber talent of anyone at the top of their field to their consistent and diligent efforts over 10,000 hours. According to Gladwell, 10,000 is the magic number to be an expert in what you do. For my music junkies, Macklemore references this in his song, Ten Thousand Hours, when he says, "The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they'd paint a lot."

If you were born to be the next Prince, great! I'm happy for you. But if you don't put in the work to BE the next Prince, that will never happen. You can be born with all of the talent in the world, but if you don't cultivate that skill you may not your reach your highest goals. This is what Gladwell is saying. Those who work at their craft and have 10,000 hours of work to show for it, are basically unstoppable. 

Going viral means that you need to have something people want to see, so I wouldn't recommend posting about outdated topics or trends. Be mindful of what is working for other people, such as looking at what is trending on Twitter and TikTok or taking stock of the first videos that are recommended to you on YouTube. These are the things that you want to replicate and add your finesse to. And that last part is very important: add your own finesse. Copying others will only get you so far. What YOU can bring to the table is what will make YOU stand out, rather than just looking like you jumped on the bandwagon.

So to sum up, going viral isn't as easy as 1,2,3. It can be, but isn't sustainable or consistent enough to replicate. Instead, being consistent in your content and branding will lead to inevitable virality. Producing high quality and engaging content that people want to see, regardless of how viral it can be, will garner the attention and fans that you actually want. Not people who follow you just because of a stupid smile video. :)