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September 25, 2023

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06 MIN.

The Ultimate Guide to Viral Marketing

We have decoded viral marketing for you! Learn all about viral marketing campaigns in this guide and boost your reach.

Pratik Shinde

Pratik Shinde

The Ultimate Guide to Viral Marketing

Going Viral! Having your hashtag, your post, or your brand name trending! 

Sounds too exciting, right?

Every brand wants to go viral, and why not…it leads to more and more people discovering you, talking about you, trying your service, and even sharing with others.

This is what every business and brand wants—Being seen by as many people as possible!

But no matter how simple the word sounds, going viral is not that easy! Especially, with all the competition, and changing trends that make even a good reach of your post difficult. 

So what are you supposed to do? How do you capture the attention of a vast online audience in this fast-paced digital world?

The answer is “Viral Marketing” - an exhilarating strategy that can propel your brand into the limelight and drive unprecedented engagement. 

If you are a marketer, social media manager, or entrepreneur trying to get your brand viral, here’s everything about viral marketing and how it works. In this blog, you will get to know about:

  1. Viral marketing with its pros and cons 
  2. Viral marketing tips (step-by-step guidance)
  3. Real-life viral marketing examples to learn from

Let’s help you move towards a better reach!

What is Viral Marketing?

Viral means reaching and getting accepted by a large audience. And viral marketing is a dynamic business strategy that leverages the power of social media, and digital sharing to propel a brand’s product or service into the spotlight, to its maximum reach. 

Creating a viral marketing campaign involves distributing compelling content that resonates with audiences and spreads like wildfire, resulting in exponential brand visibility and engagement. 

It’s not just about reaching a wide audience; it's about fostering a ripple effect where users willingly share your content with their networks. But it too has its pros and cons.

Advantages of Viral Marketing

Viral marketing, with its ability to spread like wildfire across the digital landscape, offers an array of distinct advantages that can reshape the trajectory of a brand's success.

1. Massive Reach: Viral content has the potential to reach millions of users within a short span, boosting brand exposure significantly.

2. Cost-Effectiveness: Since viral content relies on users willingly sharing it within their networks. It, thus, reduces the need for extensive advertising spending, making it an affordable strategy for startups and small businesses.

3. Heightened Engagement: Viral content often sparks emotional responses and conversations among users, creating a deeper connection between the audience and the brand.

4. Amplified Brand Credibility and Trust: When users encounter viral content shared by their peers, it carries a sense of credibility and trust. It can even position the brand as relatable, authentic, and in tune with the needs and interests of its audience, leading to better credibility and loyalty. 

Disadvantages of Viral Marketing

While viral marketing holds the promise of immense rewards, it's essential to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come with this strategy.

1. Unpredictable Outcome: The virality of content is inherently uncertain, making it challenging to predict the outcome of a campaign.

2. Loss of Control: Once content goes viral, its interpretation (positive or negative) and distribution are beyond the brand's control, potentially leading to unintended consequences.

3. Short Lifespan: The rapid rise and fall of viral content means that sustained engagement is difficult to maintain after the initial surge.

Navigating the landscape of viral marketing requires a blend of creativity, strategic planning, and a clear understanding of potential advantages and pitfalls. By weighing these pros and cons, brands can approach viral marketing with informed strategies and willingness for the dynamic journey ahead.

Tips to Create a Successful Viral Marketing Campaign

1. Set a Clear Goal for Your Viral Campaign

Before embarking on a viral marketing journey, you need to set clear goals on why you are running a viral marketing campaign and what you want to achieve.

Whether it's skyrocketing brand awareness, increasing followers, driving sales, or launching a new product, setting a clear goal provides a guiding light for your campaign. And aligning your marketing goals with the intent of your viral content ensures that every share, like, and comment contributes to your larger business vision.

2. Understand Your Audience’s Taste

Creating content that resonates with your audience is the cornerstone of any successful viral campaign. 

Analyze your audience's preferences, habits, and interactions to uncover patterns. Identify content that has previously struck a chord with them and use those insights as a foundation for your viral content. 

You can also use social media analytics tools like Iconosquare to gain insights into your audience's behavior and preferences on social platforms, allowing you to tailor your content with precision.

3. Follow Changing Trends

Staying in tune with industry trends is pivotal to the success of your viral campaign as they offer an opportunity to tap into a place that already has your audience’s attention. 

Thus, creating content that aligns with what's currently capturing attention can help you catapult your content into the spotlight and expand its reach exponentially. However, trends can be fleeting, as they are always changing. So the right timing to tap into the trend is crucial, and not when they are over.

4. Create Authentic & Unique Content

In a saturated digital landscape, authenticity and uniqueness are non-negotiable. Creating unique content that resonates with your audience's emotions, and aspirations is a must. 

Try to forge a genuine connection through what you share to go beyond the fleeting nature of viral moments. For this, you need to do proper research and plan your social media content calendar in accordance with trends, upcoming events, etc. 

Iconosquare offers a free social media calendar that you can use to get content ideas and trends and images without spending an extra dime on tools. It is a powerful resource and provides a comprehensive overview of upcoming events, trending hashtags, content ideas, dates, images, and all you need in one place, making the content creation process more efficient and effective. 

5. Make Use of Hashtags

Hashtags serve as bridges connecting your content to relevant conversations and communities.

Integrating trending and relevant hashtags into your content can help you amplify its discoverability, as many people would already be following and engaging with content related to those hashtags. Hence, a well-placed hashtag can enhance the visibility of your content, making it easier for users to find, engage with, and share.

You can even try to create your own hashtags and trend them by sharing them as much as possible. One of the best ways to trend this way is to collaborate with influencers.

6. Collaborate with Influencers

In the realm of viral marketing, influencers are like your allies in expanding your reach. 

You can partner with influencers who resonate with your brand values and have an engaged following. Their endorsement lends credibility to your content, and their audience introduces your brand to a new pool of potential fans. 

Collaborative efforts can spark conversations and encourage users to share, ultimately increasing the chances of your content going viral. They can even use and share your hashtags, leading to more of their followers coming across it, sharing it, and helping you get viral.

7. Tracking the Right Stats

Last but not least, monitor the right metrics to gauge the success of your viral campaign. 

You need to keep a keen eye on metrics such as shares, likes, comments, and engagement rates. These indicators reflect the resonance of your content with the audience and how likely it is to get viral. 

Additionally, track conversions to measure whether your campaign achieved its intended objectives, whether it's increased website visits, lead generation, or sales. All of this data also helps you identify what your audience likes, and where you need to improvise for your future marketing campaigns. 

Now that you know the whats & hows of viral marketing campaigns, it’s time to take inspiration from the best viral campaigns. 

Popular Viral Marketing Examples

1. Zendesk

One of the best ways to get a point through is almost always through humor, and Zendesk happens to know this well. 

Even in the largest businesses, humans are the ones who make the purchase decisions. And a strong hook and strong emotions are the finest ways to ignite a spark.

The sales and customer service CRM Zendesk, has shown a married couple of an astronaut and a diver who are having communication issues to illustrate the complex relationship between a firm and its customers in their ad video.

2. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is a razor subscription that tried to explain what made their product better through a hilarious ad video. The unpopular brand ended up earning more than 12k new subscribers in just 48 hours as a result of the ad. They managed to go viral!

They proved that you do not need to have a large audience base or a huge budget to go viral and be liked by the audience. Sometimes, taking a chance and a bit of humor can take you a long way.

3. Salesforce

Salesforce offers businesses to handle their process with effectiveness and they have used a case study video to promote how they have been helpful to other businesses. In their ad video, they have highlighted one of their clients Barclays, their needs, pain points, etc., and the solution that worked. 

Salesforce presents what they do in a really compelling way by concentrating on the demands of the client. Perfectly executed, this viral B2B video content marketing campaign reads more like a personal endorsement than a sales pitch, leading to the campaign's success.

4. Spotify

Spotify, a startup founded in 2008 in Sweden provides audio streaming and media service managers to earn a lot of fame in a very short time. Ever wondered how?

With the power of collaboration! It started co-marketing with Facebook in 2011. A user's Facebook profile can be updated with a personal playlist, and another user can listen to it simultaneously with only one click. 

Spotify had 165 million paid customers as of the second quarter of 2021 and is accessible in more than 15 nations, including the UK, the US, and the MENA area. 

It is an excellent example of how a straightforward partnership with social media helped a startup go viral and gain more customers, particularly when the services use a Freemium business model.

Ready to Go Viral

Crafting a successful viral marketing campaign requires strategic thinking, creativity, and adaptability. So make sure you study the trends well, and existing examples that fall in your industry, to align your strategies accordingly with what you want to achieve. 

However, going viral is not a one-day thing. It would take a lot of work, planning, trial & error to get there. But once you do reach a larger audience, it would be worth the wait and hard work.

the writer
Pratik Shinde

Pratik Shinde

Contributor @Iconosquare

Pratik Shinde is a Content Marketer and SEO enthusiast. He helps fast-paced B2B SaaS startups acquire customers through organic marketing efforts.


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