JAN. 27, 2020
Every digital marketer wants to go viral, to hear the incessant ping! of notifications as comment upon comment, share upon share, propel a video to meteoric stardom. This is one experience Tony Adkins—also known as the “Dancing Doctor”—shares with AdvertiseMint CEO, Brian Meert, in an episode of Duke of Digital.
Adkins became a quasi-celebrity after his dance video with a patient went viral. The Facebook video, which has garnered millions of views, caught the attention of major news outlets, including Good Morning America, Access Hollywood, and Australia Morning News. Although there’s no single secret formula to going viral, there’s much to learn from Adkins’ story.
Lesson 1: Never Turn Down an Opportunity
Adkins never intended to go viral. In fact, his patient’s mother was the one who recorded and shared the video on Facebook. None foresaw the attention it would draw. Had Adkins refused the recording or had the patient’s mother kept the video out of public eyes, Adkins never would have gone viral.
Lesson 2: Expand Your Social Media Accounts
When the Facebook video went viral, Adkins started receiving an outpour of friend requests, hitting the 5,000 limit. He then created a Facebook page where he could connect and build his followers, which has reached a number of 2.1 million to date. Without a Facebook page, Adkins wouldn’t have grown his followers, and he wouldn’t have had a place to post all of his future dancing videos.
Lesson 3: Post on the Right Social Platforms
Of course, for his videos to reach the right audience, he must post on the right social media platforms. Videos targeting younger users will perform well on Instagram while those that target an older age group will perform well on Facebook. For Adkins, he posts content to both, with Facebook as his most successful platform. Adkins did note that Instagram users are harder to convert into followers than Facebook users.
Lesson 4: Create an Entertaining, Authentic, and Unique Video
Tony Adkins dances with a patient for epilepsy awareness. Video courtesy of Tony Adkins.
Adkins’ video went viral within a matter of hours, and it’s not surprising why. His relentlessly cheerful disposition, authenticity, and goofy dance moves draw viewers in, making them feel happier. The video also shows something unusual: a professional in white coat, dancing carelessly in an otherwise gloomy hospital. The video captures an all-around good time, and viewers couldn’t resist that.
Lesson 5: Create Videos That Follow a Hot Trend
Once Adkins’ video had gone viral, his discerning wife advised him to create another. This time he responded to a dance challenge: hopping out of a slowly moving car and dancing to Drake’s “In My Feelings.” Because Adkins responded to an internet craze, his video went viral, garnering more than 600,000 views.
Lesson 6: Don’t Stop the Haters
With great popularity comes great haters. Like many viral internet personalities, Adkins wasn’t immune to criticism. In television appearances, show hosts referred to him as “doc” (hence the nickname “Dancing Doctor”) rather than his official job title, physician assistant. Despite Adkins’ corrections, hosts persisted in calling him “Doc.” Viewers expressed their displeasure online by leaving hateful comments. Still, negative comments are comments nonetheless, and this type of engagement is exactly the right ingredient in making a video go viral.
Lesson 7: Take Partnerships
Not only did Adkins’ video spread to people’s News Feeds, but it was also circulated within Facebook groups, where the CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (Adkins’ employer) saw his video. This discovery led to a partnership with the marketing department, and soon Adkins was dancing with consenting patients once a week.
Lesson 8: Don’t Force It
The desire to go viral may compel people to create inauthentic videos, such as the ones with “good samaritans” giving bags full of groceries to the homeless. Adkins’ dance was neither for the camera nor for popularity. It was for his patient diagnosed with leukemia. News of such gravity would bring anyone’s mood down, and Adkins was eager to brighten the young boy’s spirits. Going viral happened by pure chance. It’s his authenticity that drew people’s attention.
Lesson 9: Stick with a Theme
Dancing is Adkins’ passion, and he sticks with it. After all, he wouldn’t be the Dancing Doctor if he decided to make cooking videos. Rather than producing content contrary to his personal brand, he continues to create dance videos. It works for him, and his followers expect nothing less.
No one can predict which video will go viral, if at all. Going viral almost always happens purely by chance. If there’s one thing to learn from Adkins’ story, it’s this: Don’t try too hard to go viral, and if you do, enjoy it and have fun.
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By Anne Felicitas, editor