What to Do When You Go Viral: Making the Most of a Social Media Blow Up

by kaya@comfygirlwithcurls.com

When a video starts to gain traction and blow up on TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram, most people find themselves thinking “This is so cool…but now what?”.

This post takes you through my two most-memorable experiences with virality, and shares best practices on what to do when you go viral informed by personal experiences and missteps. I hope it helps you capitalize and make the most of the new wave of attention in the event that you’ve gone viral too.

One of the biggest myths about going viral is the assumption that it directly translates to financial success.

The reality, however, often looks quite different. Especially on platforms like Instagram or TikTok, where virality may bring more notoriety than tangible rewards.

But what if you could turn this spike in attention into a long-term advantage?

– The TL;DR –

In case you don’t want to read about my personal journey with virality.

Here’s the key takeaways:

  • Virality does not equal money in the bank
  • It’s important to have a backlog of similar content to your viral video for new followers to binge
  • If you aren’t niched down enough, a viral video can fracture your audience.
  • To really make money, you need to have a sales funnel in place so that you can redirect all your new viewers.
  • You never know what will go viral, so only create content in a niche you’d like to continue creating in.

How I’m Preparing for My Next Viral Video

This post was inspired by my own run-ins with virality. At the time of posting it, I had two viral videos under my belt and was making a gameplan for how to capitalize on my next one! Watch it below, and find the text highlights beneath it!

My First Viral Experience

Going viral isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, and I’m the first to say that a viral video can sometimes do more harm than good. Even if you’re just looking at the mental implications.

But one thing it does do is bring a LOT of eyeballs to you and your content. But if you don’t know how to redirect this attention, it’ll be gone just as quickly as it swept in.

The Video that Took Off

My first viral video really took me by surprise.

Despite years of content creation, my only real “viral” experience had been on Pinterest—a platform known for its more positive environment, and which doesn’t bring in a lot of commentary.

But one day back in 2021 I saw a trend going around of people getting transparent about their creator income, and I decided to jump on it. ⬇️

@creatingwithkaya

But how many “experts” will tell you how tired we are? 👀 . Video Inspired by @heykellyellen #microinfluencer #microinfluencertips #bloggerlife

♬ The Months of the Year – The Kiboomers

This video brought in unprecedented views on my account (which at the time was under the handle @comfygirlcurls).

I got over a million views, a flood of comments, and 50 THOUSAND new followers (I had about 5k at the time of posting).

Lessons Learned

As this was my first time going viral, I didn’t really know what one was supposed to do… but a few things became clear pretty quickly..

Initially, the influx of new followers seemed super promising and exciting (minus some of the hate I was getting well into Christmas day)…

But I quickly realized the pitfalls of not having a cohesive content strategy. My account at the time was called @ComfyGirlCurls and was dedicated to hair, beauty, and lifestyle content.

New followers were drawn in by specific content. 50k+ people hit follow because they wanted to know all about how they could grow their own accounts and secure brand deals to match my income… and scrolling my page would have shown them my hair and beauty routine.

I didn’t have enough of a backlog of content similar to what they followed me for–there was nothing for them to binge-watch after checking out my profile, so I couldn’t keep them engaged.

Diluted Brand Focus

THEN, as I tried to make both my existing and new audiences happy, I began sharing beauty/lifestyle content AND content creating tips…

But…the people who came from my viral video simply weren’t interested in my other content, which plummeted my engagement rates on anything I posted in my original niches, and worse, tanked support for my sponsored content in those categories.

My audience had become fractured, with different people expecting different things.

My Plan for Round 2

So keeping the above in mind, I started implementing changes and new approaches to my content to make sure I was well-positioned for a future viral video:

Content Strategy Overhaul

Learning from these experiences, I began to integrate content creation tips as a central theme of my brand. This shift aimed to build a strong foundation of relevant content, preparing for future viral moments so that my audience could binge.

I created playlists on TikTok, I made in-depth YouTube videos, and built out tons of resources so that if someone wanted to know more about content creation, they would be satisfied in their deep dive.

Audience Segmentation

Then to address the issue of a divided audience, I was forced to make a hard decision: Niching Down.

I initiated a strategic split of my TikTok account. Because this account’s audience was mostly there for content creating tips, I rebranded it to @CreatingwithKaya, and opted to start a brand new account for @ComfyGirlCurls.

This separation allowed for targeted content that aligned with the specific interests of different follower segments, overall improving engagement and relevance.

… But I also feel like the damage was done a bit, if I had moved quicker, I think I would have a much more engaged audience than I now do.

Lessons from my Second Viral Video

Then the next year came around and I decided to hop on this viral trend once more.

And let me tell you, Instagram isn’t dead, because this time around, my TikTok version did pretty well (70k+ views) while Instagram went PROPER VIRAL.

Probably because of the aesthetics of the video better-fit that platform.

And immediately I could see the work I had done to set myself up for success was paying off.

I was able to direct people who commented “HOW?” to my YouTube channel, and I had tons of exsting content for them to binge… but I had made one BRUTAL mistake.

I had separated my content creation tips from all my accounts… except my Instagram. 😅

I gained 5k new followers on my hair, beauty, lifestyle page and though I have since-split my IG and made a new @CreatingWithKaya one… I think my engagement on my main account is still suffering.

The Importance of a Sales Funnel

And all that lead me to another realization.

As I alluded to earlier: all those views and follows do not directly equate to financial gain.

Recognizing the limitations of social media platforms (and yes, even YouTube and my blog), I realized that I didn’t have any type of sales funnel to direct these new eyeballs to.

The absence of a funnel is a critical gap in leveraging viral success.

This realization motivated me to start developing digital products and services that could offer value to my audience while providing a source of income. The key here is that the offers need to be aligned with the video that has gone viral.

Conclusion: Reflections and Future Directions

Embracing the Viral Cycle

As I anticipate future viral moments, the experiences and lessons learned from past viral successes and failures are always top of mind.

But a lesson that stands out above them all though is that it’s important to always be creating the type of content you’d like to continue creating.

You never know what will go viral. The saying in the content creation world is that “Your Niche Chooses You”, because all it takes is for a viral video to bring in a massive audience with new expectations for you and your content.

So make sure what ever you’re putting out there is something you truly enjoy making, because you never know if it’ll be your next viral hit.

Final Thoughts

Going viral can be a whirlwind experience—both exhilarating and daunting.

But with the right strategies and a focus on long-term goals, it’s possible to navigate the viral landscape successfully. Whether you’re a seasoned content creator or new to the scene, understanding the dynamics of virality is key to turning momentary fame into lasting success.

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