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Although there is a lot of information on the Internet about how to optimize your chances of getting your content to go viral, there is little information on what to do when it happens. So when one of our clients had a Facebook photo start getting thousands of views, we started asking ourselves, “What now?” Did the retailers with the questionably colored dress have a follow-up plan?

So we did some more research, started applying our new knowledge, and decided there are five key “Es” to your response after going viral:

  1. Explain – The first thing to do when you have a piece of content go viral, whether it be an image, blog, video, or other media, is to figure out the appeal that drew the frenzy. You’ve just gotten a great big dose of “WE LOVE THAT STUFF!” from your audience, so make a note of what they like.
  2. Engage – Internet virality can be fleeting, so grasp it while you can. This is your moment in the sun — go on with your bad self and shine. Comment on the post and use the opportunity to connect with those who like what you’ve got to offer.
  3. Expand – Get your friends involved, and let them know that something you did is exploding. The excitement of these 15 minutes of fame is infectious, and your friends and associates will most likely want to get in on the fun.
  4. Endure – Keep up with the rest of your social media campaigns, and continue sharing your content. Viral explosions are exciting, but consistency in your campaign is ultimately more important. So make sure you stay the course.
  5. Emulate – Now that you know what your people want, give them more of it. Whatever the unique essence was that made your content stand out, it was something inside you. While it’s true that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place, the social media landscape is moderately more refined than thunder clouds, and what makes someone share something once will cause them to share something similar again. Who knows? Your one-hit-wonder may just become a series.

Like I said, the Internet is as fickle as the people that use it, and as much as people might offer surefire plans on how to make content go viral, Internet virality is largely a crapshoot. No one can plan for something like “dress-gate,” but you can be prepared in case it happens to you.

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