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Learn from the Fair, aim for the share

Want to go viral?

As a business owner, you know how great you are and how much a potential client could benefit from your services. It’d be shame to keep that information all to yourself.

But in the effort to get people to like you — and maybe even love you — you first need to get them to know you.

How do you make that happen without going door to door introducing yourself to potential clients? You can run ads, ask current clients to tell their friends, or practice your elevator pitch and hit the networking scene — all of which give much better results than the door-to-door option.

Of course, another way to get known is to utilize the power of social media. But as we know, there’s a lot more to it than just creating an account and posting random updates. The very best way is to make people want to see your posts.

Okay then, easy enough. How do you do that?

Well, you could hire a social media manager and tell them to “make this go viral”... and after they’re done laughing at you, you can either get mad, cry, or re-assess your expectations.

Here’s a story: My husband is a local firefighter. A few years ago, while shopping for groceries with his co-workers while on shift, their engine received a call, and they had to leave the store before checking out. The firefighters let the clerk know they would be back and asked her to hold their items.

Well, when they came back to pay and pick up their dinner, they found a note that someone had paid for their groceries. How cool is that!

The department shared a photo of the note, and it ended up being shared all over the country. It was crazy how far and fast the story went. ​They later posted a photo of the dinner in question after it had been prepared, and that got some traffic as well, though not nearly as much as the first photo.

What made it go viral? Well, nothing. One does not simply “make” a post go viral. It isn’t something you can plan for.

You see, the Internet (various people browsing through memes and status updates) is a fickle beast. Opinions run deep and keyboard cowboys are in full effect. Telling them what to do, such as like or share your content, is easily ignored.

What you can do to make your posts get more views is fairly simple… share good content and ... Aim. For. The. Share.

Posting an update that is self serving or simply tells people you have “widgets for sale” isn’t going to get you what you are after. In fact, it could make people stop listening to you altogether.

Instead, consider bringing your followers along for the ride.

An example: For the past couple years, I’ve helped out with the social media for the Washington State Fair. This year, we shared a story on social media of a lost dog. Not a real dog that needed to be fed, but a small stuffed toy named Tuffy. At least, that’s what the folks at TY put on the tag of this tiny little Beanie Baby.

In an effort to reunite the dog with its owner — and, at the same time, show the community all the various items located in the lost-and-found area — we created an adventure and shared a few dozen photos on the Fair’s Facebook page.

By the time the Fair was over, there were over 60 photos in the album that highlighted Tuffy’s adventures. And let me just say, creating the adventure was just as much fun as reading about it.

So, did it go viral viral? Nope. What could have been done to make it go viral? Not much.

However, in situations such as this, it’s common for people to share one photo, or maybe a few laid out in a collage. If we had posted just one picture with some text like “Call if you know who this item belongs to, blah, blah…,” we likely would have only gotten a few interactions and that would have been that.

By posting several photos with a story about each one, we got those keyboard warriors working for us trying to find Tuffy’s family, and we generated a good number of shares. And with each  of those shares, the story of all the things to do at the Fair was spread further and further, on top of trying to find out where Tuffy came from.

People want to see (and share) feel-good stories. Your widgets may be great, but emotions are far greater. Dig deep and aim for the share, and you might just make The Today Show.

P.S. Tuffy is still looking for his family. Do you know Tuffy?