Viral Marketing: How to Go Viral on Social Media

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Are you wondering why you are not getting enough followers on your social media? Or why your content is not getting the engagement you were hoping for?

Brands often spend hundreds of thousands to collaborate with influencers in the hopes of reaching out to a wider audience. However, given the number of influencers active on social media platforms, and the fact that no influencer can guarantee concrete numbers for reach, this tactic is slowly losing its appeal.

So the question remains: How can brands achieve virality and tap into unexplored audience segments. This is an important challenge as there are so many elements that could come together to make a content piece a hit with the target audience.

Brands and individuals now use viral marketing tactics in their campaigns as a way to reach their social media goals. Let’s dive in to understand what viral marketing is and how it can make your brand an overnight success.

What is Viral Marketing?

Here is a simple definition of viral marketing:

Viral marketing is a form of marketing in which your content is being shared by a large audience due to it being viral-worthy.

Now by viral-worthy, I mean that it creates buzz, captures the attention of the users, and compels them to share it with their friends. If done right, your content could end up in everyone’s social media feed. A good example of this phenomenon is memes that often spread like wildfire through social media platforms.

As the number of shares increases, because more and more users repost and share the content piece, it starts to populate an increasing number of feeds. After some time, the content piece goes viral.

Viral marketing relies on the audience sharing your content. As such, it should hit all the right buttons and must resonate with a wider audience. A common tactic to achieve this is to piggyback a trend.

A viral campaign can help your business reach a much wider audience and create brand awareness in untapped segments. As a result, you see a definitive improvement in brand traction (with the consequent increase in traffic to the landing pages).

Viral marketing depends upon creating a wow-effect to initially capture the attention of the user so that they spend some time understanding the message that you wish to put across. Once the users like (or enjoy) it, many of them share it with their network of friends. This process repeats until the content piece starts to appear in the feeds of a larger segment of your audience.

Is Viral Marketing Effective?

Viral marketing is one of the most effective ways to get exposure on social media. It can boost your social media presence and increase brand following within days. In some extreme cases, a viral content piece could bring in a lot of positive PR and broader media coverage. This acts as fuel to fire, as the coverage reaches out to more and more users, thereby increasing the virality of the content piece.

For instance, look at this 1-year old’s Instagram account. His name is Kobe and his Instagram account Kobe Eats has a following of 2.3M followers that include several celebrities.

Is Viral Marketing Effective

The first Instagram post from this account was on Feb 25, 2020, but soon it caught the users’ attention because of the wow-effect. In many of the posts, Kobe can be seen cooking with a chef’s hat on. His expressions and imitation of a professional chef soon had people loving every video (plus, he looks too cute in that chef’s outfit).

Many of the posts cross 100,000 organic views and are shared by thousands of followers across various social media channels. As a result, Kobe has now become an internet sensation and his following is increasing day by day.

Is Viral Marketing Effective

How a Viral Marketing Campaign Works?

Viral marketing depends on the message and the format you choose to deliver the message. The message should be persuasive enough that it encourages people to share your content, and the format should add to the experience.

Now in order to create such a content piece, you must know your target audience, the type of content formats they like, and what captures their attention the most.

In addition, trend-jacking contributes to a content piece’s virality. Now note that trends come and go very quickly and you need to stay ahead in order to benefit from a trend. Also, not all trends could benefit your brand, so you need to be very careful in selecting trends to leverage for your viral marketing campaigns.

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Elements of Viral Marketing Campaigns

To make the most out of a viral marketing campaign, you need to consider several elements that contribute to the success of these campaigns. In particular, you should consider:

Follow a Trend

A viral marketing campaign could ride a popular trend. Many brands often see a jump in the number of followers when they incorporate a trending topic in their content. This is an ongoing effort because the virality only lasts as long as the trend holds the attention of the users.

Remember the Emotional Touch

One of the most effective ways to make your content viral is to add an emotional dimension to it. People are largely moved by a cause that is near to their heart,  and if you are able to tap into the feelings, the content instantly gets noticed and shared by a large segment of the viewers.

Look at Alibaba’s Olympic ad where a young player is shown dreaming of playing ice hockey. The ad taps into the emotions because it is set in Kenya, where it never snows. The ad implied that it’s OK to dream, keep the hopes high, and strive to achieve the target. alive.


Because of this emotional touch, the ad crossed 7 million views on YouTube alone.

Use the Influencers

Using influencers in your campaign can give it a boost, as they can introduce your brand to their dedicated following. Many brands use influencers in their campaigns and try to push their message to audiences that would otherwise be very difficult to reach.

These influencers can often kickstart buzz generation and help make the campaign go viral by speeding up the sharing process.

A popular example is Michael Jackson’s Pepsi ad in which he is seen dancing with a bunch of kids who are replicating his famous dance moves. The ad was among the most popular ads of the time and crossed 109 million views on YouTube.


Create What Resonates with Target Audience

In order to go viral, your campaign content must resonate with the audience. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is posting content that they think is good for the brand. As such, the number of followers starts to decline as the content fails to capture their attention.

Keep an Eye on What is Working

It’s very crucial to keep a close eye on what’s getting shared and which content idea or format has the potential to go viral.

In order to get a data-oriented approach to simplify the matters, you need to keep a lookout for a few social media metrics which help in determining the virality of content.

  • Engagement
  • Likes and Shares
  • Views
  • Impression and Reach
  • Demographics
  • Hashtag Analytics

How Viral Marketing Creates Value For Your Brand

Viral marketing campaigns add a lot of value to the brand because

It’s Organic

One of the main advantages of viral marketing is that it’s organic in nature. You don’t have to rely on any kind of advertisement or promotion because once the process starts, the users themselves contribute to the continued virality of the content piece(s).

Easy on the Pocket

As viral marketing heavily relies on the audience sharing your content, it’s very pocket-friendly as there is almost no cost being spent on advertising.

Potential Increase in Reach

As your content is shared by thousands of users at a given time, it has the potential to reach a large audience. As The campaign progresses, the content ends up on everyone’s feed since the number of shares is multiplying throughout the duration of the campaign.

Helps Improve Brand Awareness

If your content is truly impressive, it will create a buzz that essentially brings the brand in front of a huge number of users. You will notice that people are now more likely to know about your brand and talk about it. This increases the awareness about your brand among audiences that might not be previously aware of it.

Rapid Lead Generation

Nobody can ignore the fact that viral marketing campaigns have a serious impact on sales. The reason for this is simple: As more and more people become aware of the brand, the percentage of potential users (leads) increases. While the campaigns cannot guarantee sales, they could nonetheless increase the number of incoming leads that your sales team could close.

Media Exposure

Being viral on social media has its perks – it could bring fame and success along with extra exposure. As media outlets tend to cover the latest trends and people who are being talked about, viral marketing can help you in several ways possible to become an instant sensation.

Examples of Viral Marketing Done Right!

Let’s (re)visit some of the most viral ads and campaigns that caught everyone’s attention:

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Remember the popular ice bucket challenge from 2014? The idea behind the challenge was to generate awareness and funds for the research of the ALS Association.

The challenge was shared by a huge number of social media users including celebrities like Bill Gates where they would nominate a person to try the challenge next.


The virality of the ALS ice bucket challenge went on to bring $115 million in donations for the foundation.

Dumb Ways to Die

In 2012 Australia’s Metro wanted to create awareness among the people to be safer around trains. For this, they created an animated video titled Dumb Ways to Die. The video went on to become a huge hit and got more than 212 million views on YouTube. Many peoples shared it which led to creating awareness and significantly reducing rail-related accidents.


Dollar Shave’s Club Campaign

Before Dollar Shave Club became a huge company, it released an ad campaign back in 2012. The “Our Blades are F***ing Great” campaign went viral due to a noticeable humorous element (by the way, the message was delivered in the video).


The video was very popular and made rounds on popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The video has 27 million views on YouTube.

Nowadays viral marketing is included as a part of the campaign by many individuals and brands. It’s definitely going to be around for a long time since it resonates with the audience and has that effect on them that they cannot resist sharing your content.

Let’s be honest – who wouldn’t want their content to become the talk of the town. So it’s ideal to create your content in a way that creates a spark and spreads throughout social media. While the theory is really simple, it is important to note that the campaigns could miss out on crucial elements such as influencer marketing or a shareable idea.

Picture of Fahad Ahmed

Fahad Ahmed

I am a part of the #ChampFam and working as a Community Specialist. You would usually find me helping people in various communities and groups. When not working, I am a huge fan of Real Madrid and have a passion for exploring exciting locations all over the world. You can reach out to me at [email protected]

Viral Marketing: How to Go Viral on Social Media

Picture of Fahad Ahmed

Fahad Ahmed

I am a part of the #ChampFam and working as a Community Specialist. You would usually find me helping people in various communities and groups. When not working, I am a huge fan of Real Madrid and have a passion for exploring exciting locations all over the world. You can reach out to me at [email protected]

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