3 Lessons I Learned by Going Viral on Reddit

by Don Smith

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I've had several memes hit the front page of Reddit now. Getting something you created up-voted to the front page of Reddit sounds fantastic, but what happens when you go viral on Reddit? Here are three lessons I took away from my experiences.

My first piece of content that made it to the front page of Reddit.

1. Going Viral on Reddit Doesn't = $$$

Seeing something you created go viral on Reddit and get 40,000+ upvotes within 24 hours is beautiful. But upvotes, likes, and views don't translate directly into cash. Raising awareness of your brand is helpful, but you still have to get people to purchase your products or services to make money. One viral meme won't do that if you don't have anything to sell.

You must have something to sell to generate $$$.

Due to the increased traffic, I sold a few more promoted posts and workbooks on this site. But if I hadn't had anything to sell when people checked out this site, those viral memes would have generated zero revenue.

2. Viral Content on Reddit Can Be Short-Lived

My phone blew up when my slightly modified quote, “The most dangerous phrase is ‘We've always done it this way,'” from Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, went viral on Reddit. Until I turned off the post notifications, my phone buzzed every few seconds from comments as it screamed past 10k upvotes, then 12k, 15k, finally settling around 18k upvotes. It was the same with my second one, which got 40k upvotes.

A few days later? The rest of the world forgot about my meme's 24 hours of fame, and life went back to normal, or at least as normal as it gets when you run a site like this with tens of thousands of followers while running another business and chasing five kids.

Don't Rely On Public Forums if You're a Business

Since then, I've had a few others go viral, and two of the posts I made that hit the front page of Reddit got taken down by moderators! I guess the comments were too much for them to handle, and it was easier just to hit delete than mess with it.

That's why owning your website and not relying on public forums is critical if you're a business. If you get any traction on social media, you risk having your hard work disappear at the whim of a moderator. If you want to create a website, I suggest using Siteground, which I use for this site.

3. The Secret to Going Viral on Reddit Is in the Details

The original quote from Hopper was, “The most damaging phrase in the language is “We've always done it this way!” Someone else had already tweaked the quote to say dangerous instead of damaging. I tweaked it a little more and added her picture. It was familiar to most of the audience yet unique.

The meme also had a lot of hidden depth for people who knew Hopper's story. Some people even snickered a little with her title of rear admiral and the idea of doing things differently…that little twist wasn't intentional but did tack on a few more votes.

Success is always in the details; if you want to go viral, pay attention to them!

3 Lessons I Learned by Going Viral on Reddit
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About the Author 

Don Smith

The Personal Growth Channel founder, Don Smith also owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and enjoys seeing people achieve their goals. Happily married with five children, he lives in Springfield, Illinois.

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