Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.30.52 PM

For those expecting tips from a social media guru, turn your car around now.  I am someone who has learned a lot in 3 months in terms of marketing my book, building my ‘brand’, and finding some exciting opportunities. But it’s working, and I’m starting to get some notice and have had two instances where I’ve ‘gone viral.’

Below is just a little about me and some things you need to do to catch those opportunities to ‘go viral.’

I’m a first-time author, not well known in the literary circles and I just released a book called The Arsonist in the Office: Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees, and Cultures.

It began selling on Amazon on April 15th, and I launched in early May

I take readers through my experience in the job from hell, but use all of it to teach people at all levels of an organization what they need to know to protect their careers and their companies from toxic people.  It’s ‘fireproofing’ lessons on how to protect against people and behaviors that burn things down.

So, by what I just described, you’ve probably figured out my target audience, and that’s what you need to think about now as you go through the steps to try to ‘go viral’.

Here are a bunch of things that may help you get to the next level. They have for me.

For me, my demographic is really anyone who has a job and wants to protect it, anyone who runs a company or wants to guard their culture or anyone who manages people or is managed.  So, my demographic is BROAD–which gives me some leeway to target millions if I can find them. Not every book or every product will have that flexibility, but test other audiences when you can and see what the response is.

So, #1, Know your audience.

Then, #2, Accept every opportunity that you can handle early on.  I’ve learned that small group speaking opportunities can turn into great social media posts and have also allowed me to hone my presentations.  The better, the more on-point and the more conversational you get in your delivery, the better chance you have to be seen by people who can help you ‘go viral.’

#3, Be visible as often as possible on social media.  Or as close to every day as possible.  You don’t know whether your potential consulting client may be looking at LinkedIn on a Sunday or scrolling through Twitter on a Tuesday morning.  The more you post (and of course, using keywords for your topic, eye-catching graphics, and the right messaging).  As they say ‘flood the zone’.  With content, not fluff.  But be visible.

#4, Tie your topic to something newsworthy and that you care about.. For me, that answer is tying my subjects connected to workplace drama to pop culture, politics and sports.  I’ve had great success with high traffic on my blog when the subjects have ranged from Jussie Smollett to lecherous politicians to Kawhi Leonard leaving the NBA’s Toronto Raptors in free agency.  If it’s newsworthy and it has fans, you’ll get some attention by linking the two things.

#5, Connect.  Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, and anywhere else you might find people with similar interests on the topic you care about.  Some of the people who are most helpful to me in terms of ‘liking,’ ‘sharing,’ and commenting on my messaging on social media are complete strangers.  Also, from a geographic standpoint, if you don’t have friends in other parts of the country ‘liking’ your posts, your posts won’t be seen as often in other regions. Make connections where you want to be seen. Build your networking online, and you’ll build your footprint to get visibility.

#6, Be visual.  Use pictures wherever possible to get people’s eyeballs on you and your topic.  As evidence, when I use nothing but text on LinkedIn, I might get as many as 200-250 views.  But when I posted a picture of me with CBS’s Scott Pelley or a pic after a radio talk show interview, the results multiplied.  Use pictures and you’ll see the difference.




#7, Learn Your Keywords. They’ll be part of the secret to your success on LinkedIn.  For me, as someone that is talking a lot about the culture and the toxic workplace, I’m always using hashtags on LinkedIn and Twitter that you’d expect: #Toxicworkplace, #Toxicpeople #MeToo #HumanResources, #WorkplaceCulture and more.  Think through what hashtags you need to turn your posts into something seen by hundreds, even thousands of people.

#8, Realize that your biggest successes and opportunities may surprise you, so take advantage of any opportunity you can squeeze in.  I’m sure that some will disagree with me on this one, but here’s my story about my biggest viral moment thus far.  It happened earlier this week….no, make that, it happened several weeks ago.

I was invited on a mortgage/real estate-focused radio talk show in Knoxville, TN. called ‘The Housing Hour.’  The Housing Hour has nothing to do with my book’s topic, but the hosts loved the subject, and I jumped on it.   It was a great experience, they treated me well, and it gave me some good exposure in a market outside of my home in Dallas, TX.

And, in most cases, that would be the end of things.  A one-shot deal that goes on my list of markets I’ve appeared in, presumably.  But social media has a way of changing things.

It just so happened that one of the listeners to a re-broadcast of ‘The Housing Hour’ works with one of the most influential blogs in the country, Instapundit.  And the next thing I knew, ‘The Arsonist in the Office’ went viral.

With this one post below, my book blew up in a great way…

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 4.03.03 PM

The Arsonist in the Office went from being ranked approximately 100,000 (out of 8 million) on Amazon at noon on Tuesday to this within 3 hours.

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.44.13 PM

and, in my individual book category on Amazon, I hit #3 on the charts…right up there with and ahead of some of the top business authors in the country…

I’m sold out on Amazon until they restock.  And it all started because I made myself visible…and went on a show that provided a lot of upside and a new audience.

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.30.52 PM

And, my website traffic shot through the roof….some days are quiet, and then it exploded.  Slow and steady wins the race, especially when some rocket fuel that causes your efforts to ‘go viral’ is added to the equation.



Not bad for a ‘nobody’ with a marketing budget of zero.  And all I did was continue to reach out and be visible.  When I did, great things happened. And they can happen with you as well.

And I haven’t even mentioned that George Takei, internet sensation with 10 MILLION followers on Facebook and 3 million on Twitter mentioned The Arsonist in the Office on his website with a great recommendation for his followers:

GeorgeTakei.Com says_

I hope you don’t take any of this as bragging, as it’s not.  What it is instead is my realization that ‘going viral’ with your company, book, a speech or any other endeavor is a lot of hard work, some creativity and being in the right place at the right time.  But you can’t be in the right place at the right time if your work doesn’t look good or you’re not in a lot of places.

And for me, that’s meant working like crazy on LinkedIn (if we’re not connected, connect with me) Twitter handle @petehavel , and Facebook and having some great help with a book cover and title that  has people say ‘Whoa!’ when they see it–great for those celebrities with 10 million followers thinking about the toxic workplace, for instance.

Again, I only know what I know, but follow these 8 steps and any others you can find, and I bet you’ll find a way to ‘go viral’ too.  It won’t happen every day.  But when those moments occur, it’s an amazing feeling.

Oh, and by the way, now that you’ve read this blog post about ‘going viral,’ go buy my book at either or through Amazon here. You didn’t really think I’d miss the opportunity, did you?

Pete Havel is author of ‘The Arsonist in the Office: Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees and Cultures’, the CEO of the Cloture Group–a consulting and training firm for cultural transformation, a public speaker, a regional executive for some of America’s leading trade associations and a former chamber of commerce president.  He can be reached at or 855-NO-ARSON (855-662-7766).



Error: Contact form not found.




Leave a Reply