With October 3rd being Virus Appreciation Day, it seems like there really is a day for everything now. But while viruses may be underappreciated, I thought I’d take this day to talk about something more near and dear to every content marketer’s heart instead – namely “going viral.”

Many businesses plan campaigns or create content with the goal of going viral. However, this isn’t necessarily the best strategy for many businesses for a few reasons.

1. You Can’t Really Plan For It

Many promise viral content and there are plenty of marketing firms who tout “viral content” as one of their services. In reality though, there’s never a guarantee of viral success and you can’t really plan viral content in advance. If you do, if can come across as inauthentic and won’t actually go viral.

When a post or video goes viral, it’s usually a combination of unique content, great timing and excellent luck – how else can you explain the 45 million views for “Dramatic Chipmunk?”

2. Viral Success is Short-Lived

There’s nothing like the attention that comes with a viral post, but the fame is often fleeting. The shelf life of most viral content is pretty limited and you should consider if the amount of traffic you get from viral content is still getting you a parallel amount of quality traffic. So, instead of chasing lots of short-term traffic, it’s better to craft consistent marketing strategies that will help develop real, longer term connections with your target audience.

3. Viral Content Might Not Help You In the End

When you try too hard to appeal to the broadest possible audience, it shows – your content might come off as artificial or contrived. You might end up alienating segments of your audience or attracting a lot of traffic and leads that aren’t a good fit for your product, which doesn’t really help you.

Instead, focus on your target demographic(s). These are the people who are most likely to turn into customers, so it’s important to create effective content that they will engage with.

4. You Can Go Viral for the Wrong Reasons

Do you remember Mountain Dew’s “PuppyMonkeyBaby” commercial from the 2016 Super Bowl?

This campaign generated massive amounts of social media buzz with the #PuppyMonkeyBaby hashtag continuing to trend on Twitter long after the game ended. Unfortunately, most of that buzz was negative.

The general consensus was that PuppyMonkeyBaby was bizarre and downright terrifying. Did Mountain Dew manage to reach a new audience? Yes. Did they make a positive impression on this audience? Not likely.

Quality Bests Quantity

There’s no doubt that viral success can be a tremendous marketing victory for a brand. But it’s important not to focus too intently on going viral and losing sight of your real goals: creating consistent, engaging content that delivers value and establishes a relationship with your target audience. Not only is this goal easier to achieve, but it will serve your business better in the long run.