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How to scare a social media manager

October 13th, 2022   |   Emily Moulder

Managing a client relationship takes great communication skills. It’s so obvious, it’s a bit like quipping about the Pope’s religion or where bears do their business. We’re also all familiar with the saying, ‘there are no silly questions.’

So with both those concepts in mind, why does a client email reading, ‘Can we make a viral video?’ scare Social Media Managers?

Some would argue it’s a perfectly fair question; they’re concisely asking for something they want. However, this particular phrase is regularly used as an example of something that would frighten anyone working in social media. They’d feel a chill down their spine at the thought of having to make new content out of thin air with little more instruction than ‘make it viral’.

Viral is not a dirty word

The trick to overcoming the initial sense of dread is to remember that the job of an agency is to translate, then create.

The real question is not, ‘Can we make a viral video?’, it’s ‘Can we make a viral video?’

Viral videos can be defined differently, but broadly speaking, they are videos that feel accidental, rather than overly produced, and their success come from social sharing rather than paid promotion or a multi-channel approach. A video also needs to become a talking point; parodies or memes are often how the virality of a video grows.

The first step to answering a request for a viral video it to understand why your client is asking for one in the first place. Which goal is going to be achieved by having a viral video? What does viral mean to them?

Which goal is going to be achieved by having a viral video?

This part is crucial. Instead of panic and cold sweats, you need to have an honest conversation which should result in clarity of direction. Asking ‘why?’ is the key to setting goals and managing expectations.

Keeping the party going

Virality is what we all really want. Or at least, what we think we want. To have that brilliant, low-budget idea that is so sensational it’s all over the world in 24 hours. 

However, the real work often comes after virality occurs - capturing an audience is one thing, keeping them is another.

Think about what your strategy should be if you’re wildly successful? Are you prepared to accept the learnings if you’re not? Do you have a budget to keep the action going?

Truth or dare

A request for a viral video isn’t to be scared of. It's an opportunity to clarify and refine some goals that might be missing from an existing marketing strategy. Perhaps your client has seen something cool and they also want to do something cool - that’s also fine. Maybe it means your client feels their brand is not hitting a target audience, or that their current marketing doesn’t feel very fresh.

Honesty is the best policy.

Once the first hurdle is cleared, everything should (ideally), run like any other campaign: concepts, deliverables, timelines, budgets, channels, partners, KPIs etc.

Your client’s simple request could actually be an opportunity to take the brand in a more creative, spontaneous or daring direction. It’s time to embrace the fear!

After all, there are really far more effective ways to scare a Social Media Manager. 

"Did you mean to post that?”

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