The Hidden Dangers of Chasing Viral Content for Your Business

In this video I’m discussing the difference between creating content to be popular versus creating content that is purposeful or profitable.

Because while it makes sense for influencers to chase popularity to generate sales from a general audience, it doesn’t work as well for business owners who are hoping to sell their own products or services.

And while “logically” we might know this, social media platforms tend to reward chasing popularity and broad topics, leading many of us to dilute ourselves down and lose sight of our content’s true purpose.

I’m sharing my personal experience with the trap of chasing popularity & why I believe it’s important to stay mindful of what our true intentions are.

Video Transcript

There’s a difference between creating content to be popular versus creating content to be purposeful or profitable and that’s what I want to talk about today, not only because it’s something that I have found myself caught in the trap of in these past few days and because it’s also something that came up in conversation with a wonderful lady yesterday.

(I always think when I’m feeling it and then someone else mentions it too, it tends to mean that there are others out there experiencing the same – so it’s worthwhile having a conversation about it!)

CONTENT PURPOSE 01: Trying to be “popular” or go viral with content

So if we break it down and start with this concept of being popular, what this would look like in the endeavour of content creation or sharing your work is ultimately your drive for sharing it is to please as many people as possible.

It is to get as many likes, to get as many comments, to really engage with your audience and ultimately draw the biggest response from the largest amount of people possible.

Now, in terms of business, this is pretty much what an influencers business model would look like, because typically they aren’t necessarily selling their own products or services, at least maybe not in the early days.

What they tend to be doing is reviewing a variety of different products or promoting & sharing affiliate links for a variety of different things, and so it serves them to have a larger and more diverse and generalised audience so that they can continue to sell a number of different products and have enough people within that audience that are going to click buy.

So in this instance, it pays to be popular because you want to have as many eyes on your work as possible and be able to generate sales from multiple different things without ever having to get too specific about what that is. So that’s where actually chasing popularity makes sense.

But if you are somebody who is selling your own products or services and the thing that you’re selling is an expression of you and who you are, what you believe in, and your unique skills, talents, experiences or expertise: trying to chase popularity is a bit of a fool’s game.

CONTENT PURPOSE 02: Selling your own products or services

Because in trying to appeal to a vast audience, what we have to do is dilute ourselves down or make parts of us more generalised or approach broader topics, but because we’re only really ever trying to sell one type of thing, (even if it’s a variety of different services or products that you have) they will typically fall under the same umbrella we actually want to appeal only to a specific subset of people that are going to be interested in that.

We don’t want to be trying to pull every Jack and Jill off the street because they aren’t necessarily the people that are going to be interested in what we have to offer.

Now, this is super tricky to navigate because social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok etc. they actually want to push us to chase popularity. They want to reward behavior which reaches as many people as possible. And in the short term, we often will experience more pleasure from chasing popularity. We will experience those dopamine hits of seeing loads of new followers come in off the back of some Reel that we just put out. We will experience that dopamine hit of self-validation when we see lots of people liking and commenting on what we’ve done.

But the types of content that actually allow those things to happen don’t tend to be specific to your product or service. They tend to be more generalised opinions or views on more general topics because that’s by its very nature why it appeals to a broader audience in the first place. And it’s very easy to become addicted to those dopamine hits and find yourself unconsciously and unknowingly heading down this path where your content is becoming more and more generalised, because you know what’s getting more and more clicks. This is then actually leading you further and further away from the actual purpose of the content that you are creating.

And I’m going to be completely real with you, this is totally what I find happening to myself at the moment. If you’ve been following me on this particular adventure for any amount of time, you’ll know that I initially kicked off this video podcast thing with videos I literally filmed in the moment about whatever topic came to mind for me. And the purpose of it was ultimately to scratch the creative itch that I had inside of me, it was very much about what I wanted to talk about, what felt important to me and not really overly concerned with what might be a popular topic. It was very much sharing what was on my heart.

But in doing so, in actually publishing those videos out into the world and off the back of that, also chopping them down and turning them into reels on Instagram & Tik Tok, what I found myself doing is beginning to track which of those are the most popular. Which of those are the most strategic. Which of those generate the biggest response from my audience. And then as a result of that, unconsciously have found myself swayed in my thinking before doing a video thinking “okay, how can I now make a video that’s going to be popular for people?” VERSUS “How can I make a video that actually feels resonant and relevant to me in this moment?”

And I’ve already talked about this in a previous episode about how getting too obsessed with being strategic can really trip you up in the act of content creation, which is exactly what’s happened to me. But I think just approaching it from this different angle of totally assessing what you trying to do with your content, what is the purpose of it? Are you just trying to be popular? Are you just trying to create content and put posts out there that generate a load of likes and reward you, and give you that dopamine high?

Or are you trying to create content for a different reason?

Are you trying to create content that actually leads to sales in your business, in which case you probably want to be doing content that is more specific to what it is that you actually offer. And those things typically get lower engagement. So you have to be comfortable with the fact that yes, it might not on the surface or in the short term feel as though it was the best content you’ve created. But ultimately that’s the content that’s actually going to help people develop in their relationship with you and turn from a stranger into a superfan of your products and services because they’ve been able to get to know what it is that you do, why they need it, and ultimately get closer and closer to becoming a paying client or customer with you. So when you’re focusing on sales as your purpose with content creation, there tends to be a slightly longer game you’re playing and you may not necessarily get those immediate popularity hits, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not then going to make sales.

CONTENT PURPOSE / An Act of Self Expression

And then just as an alternative, you might have a purpose of content creation to be an active self-expression to being active. You actually just want to share your thoughts and your feelings and your message with the world think that’s absolutely fine.

To be honest, that’s largely why I created my business in all honesty, because I have a very particular belief system. I have a very particular idea about how I think the world should work and what might help people actually live more joyous experiences. And for me, that comes in allowing yourself to be who you are, to express yourself and to get your message and whatever’s in your heart out there into the world versus submitting to playing some role in life that has been predetermined for you by cultures, societies, families, whatever it is.

Anyway, enough of that…. I feel like I’ve got a bit of peace and also it’s gone a bit bright, so I’m going to draw the curtain

KEY TAKEAWAY / Staying mindful or your intentions

What I’m trying to say is that whatever your reason is for wanting to create content, wanting to share your message with the world, whether it’s drawn out of a desire to sell your offers, promote your products and services because you have a business.

Whether it’s because you actually want it to be a form of pure creation and pure expression for you, or whether you are trying to grow a large audience and become a person of influence that can then promote the products that they’re passionate about.

All of these things are fine, right? There’s no one of them that is better or worse than the other. They’re just different intentions.

I think what I would encourage you to really consider is staying mindful to what your purpose is and not letting yourself get side-tracked by the way that platforms or apps work. And even if actually your content is a blend of all three of those things, understanding what pieces serve which purpose, and letting that be the case and not letting yourself be dragged and influenced by algorithms and letting them pull you away from your true purpose with creating content.

FINAL THOUGHT / The Difference Between Fitting In + Belonging

And I just want to leave you with one final thought, and it comes from Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. I don’t have it in front of me, so I’m not going to get it right. However, what she talks about is that there is a difference between fitting in and belonging.

Fitting in is where you ultimately mold and change yourself to fit in with a crowd. However, the nature of life is that what is deemed acceptable and worthy of fitting in by that crowd is consistently going to change. And so if that is your desire to fit in, you are going to have to be on constant alert to the latest trends, latest whims & the way things are going, the way opinions are changing and consistently remain switched on so that you don’t get left behind.

Whereas belonging is about being who you are and being accepted for that. And there is a difference because belonging is really about being your true self, about not worrying about whether you fit in or not. It’s about really prioritizing your own authenticity over the approval of others.

So if you do, maybe find yourself in a position where you don’t feel seen, you don’t feel heard, or you don’t feel acknowledged in the act of content creation, just be careful and be aware that there are two ways that we can be seen and heard.

One is through the act of fitting in and saying what we think people want us to say and creating content that we think the algorithms want us to create.

And the other way is by being so much of who you are, expressing from that place of “this is me and this is what I believe in” and it’s actually the originality of the expression that is going to catch the attention of the right people. The attention of the people who resonate with what you have to bring to the table, with what you have to bring to life.

Sending you all my love and support through this digital medium and my friends, go get creative, take messy action, and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun with it!