Too many new clients are saying “I want a piece of viral content!” in our first meeting. This tells me there is a fundamental gap in understanding and I want to address it. Viral content may bring an audience, but if you haven’t thought about the UX of your conversion  journey it won’t help.

First, a brief UX101:
User Experience (UX) is the total impression a person receives while engaged with something. I like to consider two types.


Micro UX is the user experience with a particular tactic i.e. landing page, infographic, website etc… Macro UX is the overall experience with the aggregated brand.

Not sure if user is stupid or design is just bad

Attention is what you make of it

Your customer is important. Their experience is important. Going viral is not important. PokémonGo went viral. That lightsaber guy went viral. A kitten with mean piano skills has gone viral. All three irrelevant now. As a business, why are we so hell bent on getting a piece of viral content? Viral content will not bring your business leads, PERIOD! Actually, it’s super important so let’s repeat it: GOING VIRAL WILL NOT BRING YOUR BUSINESS LEADS!

You couldn't handle my full attention

Going viral brings exposure. I use exposure and not attention for one reason here. Going viral exposes your business. If you aren’t already beloved by your customers 100% across the board then going viral will expose that. If you have left customers in this world with bad experiences going viral will expose that. If your website isn’t great or can’t handle large amounts of traffic going viral will expose that.

If your UX is right you know it. Even with “non-viral” amounts of traffic you can tell it’s effective. If your conversion metrics suck it is not because you don’t have enough traffic. It’s because your users aren’t experiencing what they want.

Pikachu is Dead! Long Live UX!

PokémonGo rose to massive prominence in the market. As the first mainstream adopted AR experience the buzz and storm built up around it and everything released by Niantic and Nintendo instantly “went viral.” Media outlets jumped on a chance to get in the game and for two weeks we saw an influx of PokémonGo stories, videos, and content across the web. Even we produced a Pokémon themed video to be relevant at the moment.

PokemonGO is so hot right now

Everything seemed well enough, PokémonGo had surpassed Facebook in average screen time mid-July. But players had been complaining about server issues while also trying to figure out how to use a fairly clunky and often inaccurate radar system. Any bit of social listening would show these were the top two concerns of the users. As many online communities did their part of teaching users how to use the radar, players started noticing what Niantic had realized. And then the update was released.

A UX design choice gone wrong

The update which finally fixed the server issues removed the radar feature claiming it was not only ineffective, but also the source of despised server issues. Players backlashed almost immediately and the internet flooded with memes and posts as dissatisfied users started noticing the radar they just spent 6 weeks learning to use had been removed with no alternative way to hunt their digital beasts. The result was a drop off of 15 million active users from the end of July through late August.

It certainly would have been hard for social listening to tell you ahead of time that the radar was so beloved. This is why going viral is so dangerous. If you go viral before you are ready and before you truly understand your customer it will likely present negative consequences.

If your marketing plan includes getting content to go viral, your strategy should be really simple: Make your CURRENT customers love you so much that when you share any piece of content 100% of them share it. Whether you have 3 customers or 30, if you are producing content that they all share, you are producing the right content.

At the end of the day they all have one thing in common; they work with you. Ask yourself, your employees and your customers “why?” Produce your content on those topics. If it goes viral it will be for all the right reasons.

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Brace yourself UX questions are coming

Tell me a story about viral gone wrong… Ask me why I have no respect for piano-playing kittens…  Who is your favorite YouTube Disaster? Comment below and I’d love to talk to you!!!

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