How to Go Viral: Viral Marketing Techniques & Examples

    February 19 2022

    Creating viral marketing is tricky by nature because it grows in popularity completely on its own. Part of the reason it spreads so rapidly is because it’s relatable, making it easy for users to share or recreate to make it work for their own brand or business. A lot of people, marketers included, attribute viral marketing to a stroke of luck. If the viral nature of TikTok has shown us one thing in the last couple of years, it’s that viral marketing is all about strategically creating the right conditions and then hoping it catches on! For the best chance at going viral, content must have an attention-grabbing hook, be shareable, and deeply resonate with a specific audience. Brands that do this right, experienced a massive uptick in reach, engagement, and conversions.

    What Is Viral Marketing?

    Viral marketing is part strategy and part luck. The idea is to use social media shares to promote posts. While there is a huge luck component, having a strategy increases the chances your content will go viral. Here’s how it works. Create content that users share within their networks thus expanding the post’s reach and ultimately racking up views, shares, and even sales. The magic of this strategy is that posts often go viral by accident. And when the post contains a product, this can often result in the product selling out for months at a time. 

    TikTok is a viral marketing hotspot right now. A recipe, makeup tutorial, fashion haul, etc. all have the potential to go viral. And as mentioned above, if a product goes viral, be prepared for it to sell out! For example, when the feta pasta craze was at its peak, feta cheese flew off grocery store shelves nationwide. 

    @feelgoodfoodie Baked feta pasta with cherry tomatoes!! Recipe on blog • Inspired by @grilledcheesesocial 😘 #tiktokpartner #LearnOnTikTok #fetapasta #recipes ♬ original sound - Feel Good Foodie

     

    Another example of the power of viral content is Emily Mariko’s 10-minute salmon rice bowl recipe. The post garnered over 34 million views in less than two weeks, launching Kewpie mayo (a Japanese mayo made from egg yolks) into mainstream America. 

     

    And then there is the SEASUM leggings trend. This affordable leggings brand sold on Amazon blew up all over TikTok, thanks to the booty-enhancing scrunch design. The product now has over 80 thousand reviews on Amazon. 

    A viral TikTok was even able to catapult Clinique’s “Black Honey” lipstick shade, originally released in 1971, into Gen Z’s most hyped products. 

    If you’re still questioning the selling power of viral marketing, get this– the Dyson Airwrap (a $600+ hair styling tool) launched in 2019 and has been selling out repeatedly ever since thanks to viral hair hack videos going viral. Each time the product hits the shelves, it sells out soon after. Sometimes within minutes. You can find it on reselling sites like eBay and Amazon for hundreds above the selling price, and some desperate shoppers are even buying fake versions from unofficial sites. 

    Top 3 Advantages of Creating Viral Content 

    #1 Lower Advertising Costs

    Because viral content is shared by users, it doesn’t require a significant advertising budget. If you can get your content picked up and shared by your audience, you will save a huge chunk of advertising money while rapidly cultivating brand awareness. This will also improve the success rate of future content! 

    #2 Fast Growth

    Business growth is slow in most cases, but viral marketing beats those odds. Small brands can wake up to double or triple their lifetime orders, all due to one viral TikTok. With rapid growth comes rapid lead generation and sales. Even if your posts don’t explode overnight, a moderate level of virality can result in faster business growth and faster lead generation. 

    #3 Mainstream Exposure

    When posts truly go viral, featured products make their way into mainstream media. This results in a massive uptick in exposure and brand awareness. When larger media outlets pick up a story, smaller outlets will follow in suit, continuing the cycle of virality.

    How to Go Viral 

    1. Know your audience. If you want your audience to share your content, they need to find it interesting. Knowing what resonates with your audience (and what doesn’t) is key to creating content that will spread like wildfire. 
    2. Create shareable content. If you want your content to go viral, it needs to be worth sharing. Make sure that users have a reason to share your content, whether that be for entertainment or educational purposes. 
    3. Think fast. Get to the point as fast as possible. You need to hook as many users as possible right away. The more users consume your content without scrolling by, the more shares you’ll get.
    4. Ride the trends. People follow trends. Sometimes using a trending TikTok sound is the initial push you need to get eyes on your content. A good rule to follow is to discover sounds that are about to go viral. For example, a TikTok sound with around 30,000 videos is a good benchmark for a trend that’s about to go viral. Participate in the trend early enough to have the best chance of going viral. Keep in mind that to go viral, you need to keep your eye open for trends that mesh well with your product. Oreo did this by launching their Dunk in the Dark campaign after a Super Bowl power outage. 
    5. Trigger comments. Engagement and comments drive virality. Give your audience something to talk about in the comments. Sometimes, this means leaving an obvious question unanswered or not linking a product you know they’ll be dying to try out themselves. Other times, you might ask your audience for feedback or advice. The key is to get them involved in the post somehow. 
    6. Post to viral platforms. Improve your chances of going viral by posting on platforms that often circulate viral content. TikTok and Twitter are two great examples. Keep in mind that short-form videos designed to entertain and inform do best on TikTok, while memes do best on Twitter. 

    Now you know how to go viral. Ultimately, going viral is all about creating the right circumstances. You have to create content that compels your audience to press “share.” That’s the strategy part. Then, you need some luck and your followers to help you achieve that  “viral” status. 

    Learn more about Danielle Townsley, on PLANOLY

    Danielle Townsley

    Danielle is the Social Media Manager at PLANOLY. She stays in the know of the latest industry trends and is always finding ways to create engaging and educational content for PLANOLY’s social platforms.

    More by Danielle Townsley

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