Every digital marketer at one time or another has been asked to make something “go viral.” Such requests are usually greeted with an eye roll because it’s obvious the people making them are trying to substitute buzz for budget.

From Forbes:

“Going viral” used to mean something very specific. It meant that a product, idea, or disease spread through many generations of intimate sharing. But somewhere along the way, it became colloquial for “that thing got big really quickly…”

Unfortunately for broke clients, no one can force a piece of content or a marketing campaign to go viral because by definition it has to be voluntarily shared between individuals.

And, as anyone who has ever tried it can attest, there is no way to predict what will get big very quickly through voluntary sharing – much less make it happen.

The reality is that the goal of going viral is itself a flawed approach for most marketing campaigns, and the term should probably just be retired.

It’s a marketer’s job to know their target audience and be prepared to reach them with messages designed to resonate and result in a specific action. But doing that requires planning, discipline, and, crucially, a budget commensurate with the desired outcome.

In other words: hard work, time, and money.

Which is a lot less sexy than trying to break the internet like Kim Kardashian. But breaking the internet isn’t a marketing strategy, it’s a desperate cry for attention. One that your real audience will most likely never hear.