Viral Marketing

What It Is, How It Works, and How It Can Benefit Your Brand

August 2021

We often hear about viral marketing from videos with millions of views or from pictures or memes which everyone seems to be sharing. These 'entities' are something special and provoke an irresistible urge to be shared with their friends.


But, is this content just random or is it part of a well-executed viral advertising campaign? Actually, both. Some viral content has been created with a non-advertising or marketing purpose. It's “just for fun” and exist solely to raise awareness and/or inform others about something. However, there are those who have purposefully implemented a well-contrived viral strategy, complete with heavy preparation and well-created content (and a pinch of luck as well).


* Do you want to know the secrets of successful viral marketing campaigns?  Download our free ebook to discover the fundamentals of viral marketing,  including two in-depth case studies.

Viral Marketing


Viral Marketing Definition

Viral marketing is a type strategy where the public is encouraged to share information about a brand's products or services online (mostly on social media). The name references how users spread information about a product with others.


What Is Viral Marketing?

The magic of viral marketing is its ability to make certain posts or ads spread incredibly fast. The best part of this technique is that viral content is shared simply because people like it. Consumers end up being the ones who carry out the campaign through likes, views and/or shares. After a campaign is launched, the advertiser is left with little to do besides wait and see how things go!


All of this sounds great, right? Well, like all things, there’s a bit of a problem. Creating content with the express purpose of going viral is incredibly difficult to achieve. Less than 1% are able to achieve viral status. Not to mention, luck has a lot to do with it too.



Why Does Some Content Go Viral?

Here at Cyberclick, we love metrics and data analysis. However, with viral marketing, we’ve had to accept the fact that no one knows what makes something go viral because most of it comes down to luck.


The primary question many people ask regarding viral marketing is why their advertisements are not going viral but their competitors' are? Having dedicated themselves to analyzing what is extremely successful on social media, BuzzSumo thinks they have the answer to this question. They reviewed 100 million articles and drew some very interesting conclusions regarding why some content goes viral and other content doesn't. Let’s take a look, shall we?


1. Longer Posts Are Shared More

Um…what? Isn't it said that in the digital era with the saturation of content out there it’s better to be short and concise? Wrong. Even though we are progressively reading less and our attention spans are shorter, longer and more extensive posts are actually more successful. Articles between 3,000 and 10,000 words are shared on social media more than those that have fewer words. Why mention this? Because there will be 16 times more posts with less than 1,000 words than posts with over 2,000. Another reason could be because more detailed posts provide more value and can better answer a reader's questions (an important factor which will help make something go viral).


2. Take Advantage of the 1,000 Words a Picture Can Provide

Viral Marketing doesn’t exist without a picture or a video. On average, blog posts are shared about 65 out of every 100 times if they have an accompanying image. In contrast, text only posts have an average of 28 shares out of every 100. Fascinating, no? Make sure to dedicate 10 minutes to looking through online photo banks and finding that perfect image that could improve your chances of making a post go viral.


3. Social Media Is Responsible for a Post Going Viral

The majority of people have some type of social media profile. Thanks to this, you will see that a post can go from a few shares to millions very quickly. There are also ways to increase the chances of this happening. Content that has images or videos is shared at a higher rate, so using platforms like Instagram and TikTok can greatly improve your visibility online.



4. Put Your Heart into Your Content

A neutral stance in a post won't garner much attention and won’t be considered share-worthy by users. Make sure to incorporate opinions and emotion into the creation process. More positive emotions such as, surprise or joy are preferred and more negative emotions such as sadness and anger don’t exactly help much. No one wants to share anyone’s pessimism, much less a company's.


5. Infographics and Listicles Are Preferred

Infographics (images that sum up a post’s main ideas) and listicles both have a much higher share rate than video posts. Furthermore, articles with leading titles such as “How dolphins communicate underwater”, “What lipstick is really made of”, and “Why Katy Perry chose to chop off all her hair” are great ways to engage readers. The information should be well written and contain catchy titles and eye-catching images.


6. 10 Is the Most Viral Number

Science tells us that pi (3.14) is present throughout all of nature but the magic number for viral content is 10. If you’re looking to create a listicle, 10 should be your go-to number. Other numbers which work well (in order) are 23, 16 and 24. Want to know why these numbers are preferred? Well, the truth is that no one really knows.


7. Author Bios Help

Aside from on Facebook, it is always best to include a brief bio of the person or company who has created the content on social media platforms. In doing this, you increase your chances of shares by 21% on Twitter, 23% on LinkedIn and 42% on Google.


8. Influencers Rule

Get an influencer in your life and you’ll be set. If 5 influencers share your content, it will be shared 3 times as much on social media. Even if only 1 influencer shares your content, you’ll still see a 30% boost in "virality."


9. Share Your Content Multiple Times on Social Networks

The viral lifespan of a post on social media is limited. If you know your content is generating lots of shares, post it multiple times! By doing this, you will restart the chain of events and new people will get to see your content each time. Just don't go overboard.



10. Tuesdays Are the Best Days to Post

It’s true. Data from the BuzzSumo study states this and Google Analytics agrees. Tuesday is the day of the week when you get the most blog traffic and when you have the biggest chance of content being shared.


Advantages of Viral Marketing

It never hurts to know the benefits that any given discipline provides. The same goes with viral marketing.

  • Low cost. As previously mentioned, you just have to think of a big idea, make it creative and interesting and the rest of the work will be done by the public!  
  • Great potential reach. For something to go viral, it has to go very far, very fast. This can be accomplished by viral marketing’s extraordinary capacity to spread far and wide.
  • Non-invasive. This type of content is non-invasive. In fact, it's actually quite welcome because the public tends to be very interested in it.
  • ‘Brand boost’. In addition to an increase in ROI, you will also see an increase in brand awareness and reputation. Consumers will associate positive values and viral content with your company. 

The Secrets of Viral Marketing