So the client says, “OK team, here’s our new plan, we’re going to make a viral video.”

I’ve heard that statement or variations thereof a number of times.  And the fundamental problem I have with it is that it confuses an outcome with a strategy. Sure, having a video (or a Facebook post, a tweet, or an Instagram image) “go viral” is a reasonable goal. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of thing we marketers can actually control and cause to occur. If it happens, it’s a combination of components including timing, creativity, luck and a difficult-to-define thing called resonance.

The concept of going viral also presupposes an audience that is aware of, interested in and/or engaged with your category or brand.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t chase the dream, but given the size of the internet universe, you’ll have better luck betting all your chips on one number on a roulette wheel. Not a smart strategy for roulette, and a worse one for marketing.