On authenticity and going viral

This little letter recently hit my LinkedIn news feed.

Then I saw it on Twitter.

And Reddit.

It's everywhere. Check it out for yourself.

This is virality in all its glory.

The dealer - Reiman's Harley-Davidson in Kewanee, Illinois - seems like the real deal, and I highly doubt they expected this to take off the way it has. Really, I'd imagine they're the kind of people that might be a little embarrassed by all the attention. But because of their big hearts - and nothing more (no silly attempt to go viral) - they're in the spotlight and the public loves 'em.

I've been asked by businesses before, "can you help us go viral?" The answer is this: of course there are some things you should do to help your work become more likely to catch on. And obviously you want your work to be "sticky" - you want folks to be comfortable talking about and sharing what you're up to.

But I hope no one out there is buying a promise of virality. For the most part, the days of producing content just so it will get a billion hits are gone. You simply can't fake it - not anymore. We're in a new era, one where authenticity wins every time. Little things like this letter and this company's approach are the big things.

So, to companies big and small, my viral advice is this: treat every customer experience as though millions are watching. Whether or not they are is beside the point. If you're extraordinary when people aren't paying attention, you'll be ready when they are.

(Note: I redacted the recipient's address for privacy reasons.)