Different Kind of Viral

A funny thing happened to me this week as I started work on my blog.  Well, not funny, ha ha, but funny unexpected.  I tested positive for COVID.  That seemed like an inconceivable thing to happen to me.  I wear my mask in the grocery store even if others don’t!  I am double vaccinated and boosted!  I almost never go out to eat!  I canceled our New Years’ Eve party to keep omicron away!  I hardly see people at all!

It started with a minor sore throat that quickly turned into cold symptoms.  So out of an abundance of caution, I took one of my home COVID tests.  Mainly to confirm that it was indeed a cold, and I could go ahead and play tennis the next day.  Imagine my shock when the pink and blue stripes both showed up, indicating a positive result.  What the heck??

Viral Virus

But here’s the thing.  The numbers have not been in my favor.  Have you seen the spike in omicron cases?  Here’s the latest from the CDC on daily cases of COVID:


A recent New Yorker article covers some of our impressions about living with this data.  According to the article, three-quarters of Americans “feel that they’re as likely, or more so, to contract the virus today – a year after vaccines became available – as they were when the pandemic began.”

Viral Game

At the same time that the COVID numbers are peaking, there is something else that has gone viral as well.  Perhaps you recognize my attempted graphic representing the latest online game?


This is Wordle, a new word game that the world is going crazy for.  If you’re not already familiar, you can learn more here and here.  According to The Guardian, this game had 90 daily players in November, 300,000 in early January and 2 million by the middle of January.  Just like omicron, Wordle is spreading all over the world.

Other Viral Examples

We have all seen other instances of something going viral.  Perhaps you remember the BBC news interview  a while back, where the man’s young children wandered into the background while he was being interviewed and his wife tried to intervene?

Or, if you have kids, you might enjoy the earworm Baby Shark video, which has over 10 billion views!

And of course, this can work incredibly well for advertisers. Back in 2010, Old Spice posted You Tube videos for their “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign that had nearly 100 million views across the series of videos.

And with the introduction of TikTok, viral videos continue to grow in popularity while also shrinking in length.

Going Viral and Small Business

Wouldn’t it be nice if your own small business could attract that kind of engagement?  Certainly, the Old Spice campaign served as a great way to increase awareness and ultimately sales for the company.  But can you realistically do the same for a small business?

I doubt that any of us have the budget for a viral ad campaign.  And honestly, we don’t really need to attract billions, or even millions of viewers, er, customers.

So what can we learn from my crazy COVID ponderings about viruses and viral videos?

Thanks for bearing with me as I finally get to my point.  Thinking about the rapid rise of omicron and the latest Wordle craze made me think about how easy it can be to see the numbers – like the giant rise in cases – and how hard it can be to connect the numbers to your personal situation.

Data vs Personal

Certainly, it’s true that I could see that omicron was out to infect as many people as possible.  But I didn’t think that I would be one of those numbers.

Similarly, I’m sure that the creator of Wordle didn’t anticipate the response to his simple word game that he created for his partner.

When we look at our own lives, we don’t tend to think of ourselves as a single data point among a sea of others.  We focus more on our own personal decisions and how they impact those around us.

How does this affect you?

‘But what does this mean about me and my small business?’, I’m sure you are wondering.  That’s a great question and I hope that my COVID addled brain is generating thoughts that will still make sense when I am COVID-free.

My point is this – as business owners we all spend a lot of our time playing a numbers game.  Consider the familiar 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle).  That might mean that 20 percent of your customers generate 80 percent of your revenue.  Or that for every 100 leads, you generate 20 qualified leads, which leads to 4 sales.

But despite all that math, we know that what really matters is the personal connection we make with our customers and future customers.  And as COVID has forced us into more online and virtual options for connecting, it can seem even more challenging to find ways to make those personal connections.

Why is it viral?

We all know how the omicron virus spreads – through personal connections!

And we know that games or videos that go viral do so for a similar reason – the game or video resonates with a LOT of people.

So if you want to make connections with your future customers in this new online world, which is only moving more and more online (cough, cough, metaverse) then you need to focus on the personal connections.

Think about what makes a video go viral.  Typically, it’s funny, easily relatable, and maybe it’s inspiring or educational or something that adds value.

Can you go viral in your industry?

Now think about your business and its online presence.  Does it have those same characteristics?

Even though you are selling to other businesses, you are really selling to the people in those businesses.  Maybe it’s time to learn from those viral videos and try to incorporate of your personality and the personality of your business and employees into your online messaging.

What makes your product or services stand out from the rest?  Is there a way you can demonstrate that in a more relatable way than you are doing right now?  Does your website content make people want to read more?  Do your business videos make people want to share them?

It’s time to take a lesson from these viral examples and focus on the personal connections with your customers.


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