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Guide to Successful Viral Marketing Campaigns

Guide to Successful Viral Marketing Campaigns

You’ve probably heard the term “viral” a hundred times, but do you know what makes something viral?

Furthermore, what’s so special about viral content, and why do viral marketing campaigns achieve great results?

Let’s find out all about that, and more.

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What Is Viral Marketing?

Viral marketing is an organic way of rapidly increasing brand awareness. The main aspect of viral marketing is to create content that instantly grabs the attention of users, and provokes society with its message.

It’s important to note that the public’s response is not always positive. Sometimes the reaction can be negative, but what’s essential in a viral marketing campaign is that you start a buzz around your product/service, and get people talking about you both online and offline.

We’ll talk about the pros and cons of a viral marketing soon, but first:

How to Successfully Execute Viral Marketing Strategies

How to Successfully Execute Viral Marketing Strategies

  1. Instantly Grab Their Attention
  2. Make It Emotional
  3. Keep It Simple
  4. Know Your Target Audience
  5. Nail Your Timing
  6. Be Creative

1. Instantly Grab Their Attention

The Internet floods us with an endless pool of information. In order to stand any chance of going viral, you must ensure that users will not scroll past your post.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, and there’s no formula for success. Usually, though, these types of content perform well:

  • Memes
  • Puzzles/riddles
  • Infographics
  • Lists
  • Case studies
  • Guides

2. Make It Emotional

Strong emotional responses create high engagement. That’s a fact. Emotions also make you remember something for a longer period of time. For example, you most probably still remember a particular ad or other viral content that made you feel happy, sad, angry, etc.

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Nostalgia is another very strong feeling you should target, as it often hits peoples’ emotions. In all cases, avoid generic-sounding, informational campaigns that consumers will probably forget right away.

3. Keep It Simple

One of the main rules on how to create a viral marketing campaign is to keep it simple. Avoid hitting the user with too much information. What’s important is to convey your main message, without unnecessary distractions.

Think of Nike’s “Just Do It” or Johnny Walkers’ “Keep walking”.

4. Know Your Target Audience

Naturally, you should always consider your target audience. Brainstorm, for example, what their hopes, aspirations, fears, and values could be.

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What would make them share your content and tell their family and friends about it? This step should be done as early as possible, in order to maximize the efficiency of your campaign.

5. Nail Your Timing

In a world of social media and quick news, the timing is always crucial. It does matter if you post something on August, 6, 10 PM, or December, 25, 5 PM. Big holidays and major events always lure marketers as a perfect time to launch their campaigns, as those are the times when they can reach the most users.

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6. Be Creative

Brevity, an emotional copy, and attention-grabbing should all be combined with strong creativity. Your campaign will not have the same effect if you are not creative. Lazy and boring copies tend to be forgotten soon after being heard/read.

Always be creative, hire professional copywriters, and make sure to stand out from the endless sea of content.

Pros & Cons of Viral Marketing Campaigns

Pros & Cons of Viral Marketing Campaigns

As promised, let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of viral marketing.

Pros of Viral Marketing

  1. Increases brand awareness. When you go viral, everyone will learn about your product – who you are, what products/services you offer, etc.
  2. Cost-effective. Some of the best viral marketing strategies are created with a low budget, which is proof that you don’t need to break the bank in order to receive recognition.
  3. Reach new audiences. Part of the definition of “going viral” is to reach huge audiences, and that includes people who have never heard about your brand before. All of this leads to more sales, increased conversions, and a great social media following.

Cons of Viral Marketing

  1. Negative publicity. According to the saying: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”, however that’s not true. While you might achieve virality, there could be negative consequences. If the public perceives your messages poorly, you could end up being famous for all the wrong reasons, which will not only be bad for your business, it could completely ruin it.
  2. Impossible to measure. To this day, it’s still not possible to measure the impact of a viral marketing campaign. There is no benchmark to help marketers understand whether they’ve achieved success or not. Sales could increase, you might be getting more traffic to your website – all you can do is to hope for the best.
  3. Maybe no one cares. Failure is definitely in the books. There are a couple of reasons why people might not care about your viral marketing efforts. For instance, users might be irritated, or if they find it cool, they still might not share it. That’s why it’s so important to define your target audience before launching your campaign.

Viral Marketing Examples

Alright, now let’s see some of the best viral marketing examples.


Smile (2022) is a horror movie that became famous for its viral marketing campaign. Some of the actors in the movie appeared at a baseball game, and it instantly became an online hit.

Old Spice

“I’m on a horse”. Yeah, everyone and their grandma knows about Old Spice thanks to their ingenious marketing campaign. Their TV commercial received 60+ million views just on YouTube, and it ultimately saved Old Spice as a brand.

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Dos Equis

The most interesting man in the world? Oh, yes, you know him. Mexican beer “Dos Equis” couldn’t have predicted the levels of viral they would reach, once their campaign was transformed into a meme.

Dos Equis

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Over to You

There you have it, folks. Viral marketing campaigns are complex – they can either turn your brand into an international phenomenon, or you can end up with the taste of negative publicity in your mouth.

Have you had any experience with viral marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

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