A big rationale for using social media is virality. It’s the belief one can change the wisdom of a crowd by changing its shared experience, without having some third party drive that change. The idea is simple: make that crowd change their beliefs by giving them a piece of content so compelling, that crowd in turn will widely share it in their own words across their own networks.
There’s a big problem with this belief: you can’t make something go viral. When content gets adopted quickly across many audiences, it’s a happy accident at the intersection of content, interest, and opportunity – not some calculated plan with clear probabilities. And when you look at everything that has to happen for content to become viral, you quickly see why shooting for virality just doesn’t make sense: