Millions of interactions, getting picked up by news sites, 15 minutes of fame, 'going viral' seems like it could be your big break.

But is it really?

The Government announced this week that it was starting a campaign called #VoteyMcVoteFace based on the now famous #BoatMcBoatFace debacle. Their plan was to make the hashtag go viral and convince 18-25-year-olds to register for the upcoming EU referendum. 

Unsurprisingly it failed.

I say unsurprisingly because nothing is guaranteed to go viral. I doubt anyone thought #BoatyMcBoatFace would ever go viral but it did.

Whereas #VoteyMcVoteFace, other than being in Private Eye, didn't gain any traction.

The Government made a naive mistake that we as digital marketers should all learn from. 

The best way to reach an audience is to create long-term strategies based on helpful content as my colleague Sam wrote about Quality Content Creation last week.

This will make your reach go further as your audience will feel the value of your content for weeks.

Compare that to going viral which has a very short lifespan. The government's expectation to reach all 18-25-year-olds over a few hours via a viral post is ineffective.

As digital marketers, we often hear that going viral will reach a large audience but if the audience has no interest in your product or doesn’t match your buyer persona they are literally worthless.

You’ll get better results by creating great engaging content regularly which builds trust and your reputation. 

Also, being digital marketers we need to justify our role within our companies, the best way to do this is through ROI but Adobe's research shows that 52% of marketers cite difficulties in accurately measuring ROI as their biggest source of frustration in social marketing.

Don’t get me wrong; if something goes viral it has the potential to be very good for you but its like trying to score a wonder goal in football when a simple scrappy goal is worth just as much. 

Going viral doesn't help your business as much as it is believed.

If you’re trying to go viral you’re trying too hard.