Going Viral, Here and Gone In An Instant

This is going to be a little story dedicated to the last few weeks of a particular Tumblr site that I created out of something that I happened to see on Reddit. It’s my quick rise and fall of being something that I consider viral, and how much of an absolute crap shoot it is, and how there’s just no way anyone can expect long term results from being a social magnet.

That specific Tumblr site is Thanks-Obama.Tumblr.com. The entire site is dedicated to adding text to infomercial fail gifs, like this one here:

That’s it, the entire shebang about what that site is. The “Thanks, Obama” explosion like all other memes rose and fell in what appeared to be a few weeks time. In reality, the site started out at roughly 200-300 visits a day and increased slightly day after day until BoingBoing.net linked to it. The first day the site was linked, it hit 21,000 visits and was steady for roughly a week.

Thanks Obama Stats

From then on until now, I’m approaching 100,000 visits in a little over a month’s time. To me, that’s about as viral as it gets, and I’ve learned a few important lessons that I feel everyone can benefit from.

Enjoy The Viral Ride

Seriously, enjoy it because those big days of 10-20k visits happen for short span of time. While I’m still seeing anywhere from 1,000-3,000 visits a day, the days of hitting 20k visits appear to be done. The terrible thing about seeing things explode like this, is that it gets your mind running and fooling yourself into thinking that everything you make like this site will explode and people will eat it up like they did with your original idea. That’s just not realistic, and while there’s no harm in trying another idea in hopes of success, just normalize your expectations on the project.

Going Viral Isn’t For Everyone

I’ve had business owners in the past discuss and ask about going viral. How it’s done, what do they have to do to make people explode on their product, why don’t people want to get my product out there, will it benefit SEO long term?

In all honesty, it really did have success on SEO almost immediatly. I’ve become the number one result for almost all kinds of variations of “Thanks, Obama gif” and other “Thanks, Obama” keywords.

However, that’s just a certain niche that’s relevant and not too many people have created something else like it.

Business owners feel that what they have is unique, interesting, and people desperatly want what they have to offer. When in reality, that’s just not true, and it’s unrealistic to think that Joe Landscaper does something wildly different than the other 20 Joe Landscapers in the area.

Going Viral Isn’t Just Social

Plain and simple, there’s misconceptions about what going viral is. People knew about my site through social outlets like Reddit and Facebook because it spread naturally. The viral part didn’t actually explode until a popular website linked to it.

Social Media more than likely helped get that link on the important/popular sites, but it also didn’t fully contribute to my ongoing success. It’s more of a standard and an expectation at this point. The foundation was built after the first site linked to it, then the next, and so on.

The Social Media aspect of the visits continue to get people coming back, while also spreading it on their Walls/Timelines for their friends to see. While social is a large portion of going viral, so is backlinking and endorsements from other popular sites.

It’s Not All About SEO

Another interesting thing about the Thanks, Obama site. There’s absolutely zero SEO done to it. I didn’t set out to do any SEO, much less wanted to turn it into something that it wasn’t. It was an image blog, pure and simple. Sure, I’m an SEO Consultant by trade, but not everything I do online needs to have SEO done to it. Sometimes I just like to post stupid gifs and make people smile too.

I'm a web designer and SEO consultant who's been working in the Pittsburgh area for the past 7 years. I'm a fast learner and always looking to speak with people in my chosen fields.

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