Last year I had the scary yet exciting experience of one of my articles going viral. We all talk about viral marketing, but what’s the secret?

An article can go viral when you least expect it.

Will you be ready when your article goes viral?

I am a regular contributor to the Expat section of the Daily Telegraph. I had submitted a couple of story ideas and the editor liked my idea about the expat dating scene in Uganda. The final article was a bit more sensational than I had intended, with the editor’s forthright title: The Drama of Dating in Uganda.

Would this be my viral marketing moment?

I shared the story and took the plunge to promote it on my Facebook page. I nervously clicked on boost post.

It went ballistic.

Within a few days, I had several hundred new Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Well-known journalists and social media contacts quoted different parts of my article at me. Not only had they seen the headline, they had actually read it and wanted to talk about it with me. I was invited to appear on a radio show. The story put me very firmly on the local journalists’ radar.

Upping my game – how viral marketing improved my network of contacts

I’ve been writing about tourism in Uganda for the last seven years and traffic to my blog has slowly increased. I have a small but loyal following. There is no one else doing quite what I do: sharing my travels and adventures in my personal style. The response to the dating article was in a whole other league however.

Can your article catch fire?

Everywhere I went, people told me they had read my article. My idea had caught on!

What made my dating in Uganda story so popular was that I was talking about a taboo subject: marriage and extramarital relationships.

What this experience taught me about viral marketing

  • Write about something controversial and you will get a good number of comments and shares. You will learn more about your target audience too.
  • Writing something controversial can be a high-risk strategy: be careful to get your facts right and be prepared to be challenged. I stood by everything I had written. Because I had written about my personal experiences, it was difficult for people to dispute my authority.
  • Everyone enjoys having a snoop into someone else’s private life, even more so if you’re from a different culture.
  • I really enjoyed responding to reader comments. It was quite time-consuming (and hard for me to focus on much else that week!) However, these conversations brought on board more Facebook Fans and email subscribers (who may be disappointed when I veer off their preferred subject of dating and start talking about my everyday tourism adventures and wildlife encounters!)
  • If your writing becomes popular, you will need to commit time to reading and replying to comments. Responding to the outcome of a viral marketing campaign can be a time-consuming process. Make the most of the opportunity. The traffic will suddenly come; (just as suddenly, it will stop, unless you have a follow-up article ready).
  • Write about what you are passionate about. If you do this, you will never run out of things to write about. This approach has worked for me for seven years so far. I never run out of story ideas.

Love me, love my troll

One daunting aspect of my article going viral was that I attracted my first troll. I stood my ground. They had a couple of jabs but soon shut up. It could have gone either way though, and it did make me wonder how well-known I want to be. The downside of viral marketing is you cannot truly control it.

Everywhere are opportunities, if you’re ready for them

After dozens of positive comments, a well-known male blogger decided to take offense at what I’d written. He had so many criticisms that I hardly knew how to reply. In fact, that is where left it–I did not reply. I had made my mark: One of Uganda’s best-known bloggers had seen fit to write a whole long post in reply to mine.

Needless to say, he tweeted it to the whole Ugandan blogging community. Thank you very much!

Are you interested in how viral marketing can help your business? If you’re looking for more content marketing inspiration, please check out some of our success stories.

Charlotte Beauvoisin is an accredited marketing manager who promotes East African travel and conservation from her home in Uganda. To learn more about Charlotte, visit