How to Use Viral Marketing to Obtain Viral Success

how to use viral marketing to obtain viral success

What makes content go viral? If we use the most shared content or most viral Facebook posts of 2017 as examples, we can deduce that it’s a catchy tune, a practical tip or two, something that inspires, or a picture of a cute animal. These are the things that people shared the most.

But they’re not the only things that achieved the coveted viral status last year. Everything from a meme to a response to someone else’s post, or a riff off a trending topic can quickly find its way to short-lived online fame. During that time-frame, the content will reach a huge audience, before it’s slowly replaced by the next viral thing.

The ability of content to reach huge audiences in a short amount of time is something that marketers find very appealing. However, making content go viral is easier said than done. And even when it happens, there still needs to be a way to capitalize on that momentum. But that’s what a successful viral marketing campaign needs to do.

The Three Things a Successful Viral Marketing Campaign Needs

A viral marketing campaign should be completely propelled by people. In a truly viral campaign, marketers shouldn’t pay for ads to promote their content, or rely on their knowledge of search engine optimization, or anything they would use in other types of marketing. Content goes viral because people share it with other people. Anything else, and we’re dealing with paid, or content, or other types of marketing.

So how can marketers get people to share things and make their campaigns successful? The answer is simple — by giving people what they want and what they respond to. According to Paula Stone, a marketing specialist at, a campaign that can inspire or offer these three things has good chances of achieving viral success:

  • Engagement — a campaign needs to be able to engage audiences, and that’s the job of the content;
  • Reward — audience members need to be rewarded for their participation;
  • Social factor — participation in the campaign needs to utilize social connectivity.

Any marketer who wants to use a viral marketing campaign for quick success needs to quickly engage people, to offer them a reason to get involved, and to use social networks as the best venue for getting traction.

How to Create Viral Content

The ability of content to go viral is very important for a viral marketing campaign. You can’t have viral marketing without viral content. The problem with viral content is, however, that you can’t quantify or qualify it easily — it’s hard to put your finger on what makes content go viral sometimes.

But is it, really? The Facebook posts that got the most shares last year show us that certain kinds of content work better than others. We know, for example, that that visual content has clear advantages over textual content, including the fact that our brains process it 600,000 times faster. That’s not to say that textual content can’t go viral because it’s possible, even though it’s not that easy.

It doesn’t hurt if the content can cause the audience to experience happiness, surprise, admiration, or any other of the top emotional responses to viral content. Emotions are important. And so is thinking quickly and being able to deploy a mini-campaign in a short timeframe. That’s one of the key takeaways from brands that capitalized on viral marketing trends.

Finding the Right Reward

In a viral campaign, a reward can come simply from knowing that a person is the one that found out about something first and then shared it with friends. However, this type of reward wouldn’t work with every campaign or product. But that’s the problem standard rewards have as well — not everyone wants to share content to get a discount code.

Using rewards in viral marketing should come with some important guidelines. For one, marketers would do well to research their audience and understand what type of reward would work best. That’s a decision that can affect the cost of the campaign because sometimes the rewards are of a purely social nature.

Next, marketers shouldn’t offer the reward to a single person. Getting content to go viral isn’t a competition, it’s more like a collaboration, and everyone involved deserves a reasonable shot at being rewarded. That being said, the barrier to entry should be very low — everything a person has to do to be rewarded is to give the content a little push on its way to becoming viral.

Including the Social Factor

Marketers can never have full control over how audiences share their content. Viral campaigns benefit from allowing audiences to use any option that’s convenient for them and their friends to contribute to spreading the content. Even if those options are emails or other private types of channels.

Public channels, however, have much more value to both the marketer and the people spreading the content. It’s true that this value depends a lot on the type of content. Marketers shouldn’t expect people to share their content on social media if the content contains graphic depictions of adult themes, for example. That type of content goes viral very rarely.

The benefit of the public social channels is that they allow for a faster increase of the content’s reach. Plus, people might find it rewarding and even appealing to connect with new people over a piece of viral content, which might become a reward in its own right.

For marketers and the brands they work for, a viral marketing campaign can lead to quick success. And even though viral success might be short-lived, it can serve as a great boost to the overall success of the company. In some cases, it might even be a foundation to build long-lasting assets that can be used over and over again in marketing. Just ask the Old Spice Guy, he can tell you he’s a great example of capitalization on the viral success of a marketing campaign.

This is an article by Kate Khom. She is a passionate writer who likes sharing her thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, she works as a real estate agent at She likes everything related to traveling and new countries.

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