What is viral marketing?

6 Apr 2022

Social media

Christina Attrah

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Chances are, you’ve heard of going viral. And if you’re desperate for your business or idea to go viral, then we certainly don’t blame you. That’s because we understand the urge to get your name in front of as many people as possible, soaring to social media stardom, making headlines and (hopefully) selling out along the way. 


But it’s not as easy as that (sorry). And learning how to go viral means getting to know the concept of viral marketing at a much deeper level. Ready? Let’s get started. 


What can viral marketing do for my business?


‘Going viral’ is a phrase most people know, but what does it actually mean in marketing terms? Spreading content on the Internet, specifically social media, can gain a lot of attention and engagement from followers and even bring in new customers. Viral marketing is incredibly useful if your business is looking to create a snowball effect of exposure online or by word of mouth. Brand growth is a direct result of viral marketing, and is especially perfect for targeting a younger demographic. Fair warning, a heavy dose of luck is involved in viral marketing, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

What does going viral mean? 


Going viral is a phrase you’ll hear associated with a video or clip that’s racked up millions and millions of views in a small space of time. This could be on YouTube or on TikTok, but the great thing about going viral is that it draws an immense amount of attention to one video. If a product features in a viral clip, it’s not unlikely that this product will sell out online or become extremely popular for a short period of time. Going viral does wonders for brand publicity and helps to grow a massive following.

Advantages of viral marketing

So, what are the advantages of viral marketing? How can it benefit your business?

  • Low costs – Opting for an Internet-based approach to get people talking about your brand, products or services is great for a business on a budget. Your customers are doing the hard work for you.


  • Non-invasive – Seeing ads or products online is a less invasive campaign and isn’t too in your face, as these can be skipped or scrolled past if irrelevant to the user.


  • Large outreach – A major aspect of brand growth is diving into the unknown terrain of new customers. This is where viral marketing can help to create a wider target audience, and bring in people who hadn’t even heard of your business.


  • Forward thinking – Everyone loves an eye-catching piece of viral marketing, and it keeps a business looking young and fresh.


Disadvantages of viral marketing

On the flip side, what are the disadvantages of viral marketing?

  • Credibility  – There’s always the chance of going viral blowing up in your face and promoting a campaign for all the wrong reasons. 


  • Wrong target audience – A disadvantage of being able to reach such a wide audience is that the wrong demographic is being targeted and that maybe viral marketing is just not right for your brand.


  • Seen as spam – Viral marketing can be exciting and intriguing, or it can be seen as a nuisance. It could be seen as spam, and potentially damage your credibility.


How to make a social media campaign go viral

social media viral marketing

When thinking about going viral – and what it can do for your business – always start with what you want to achieve. Do you want to improve brand awareness, or peak the interest of your customers? Without a clear goal you might miss your opportunity to go viral. 


Top tip: Not every business fits the bill when it comes to going viral, that’s why it’s also important to decide whether it will work for your brand before getting started.


Going viral is not completely based on the shock factor, but also creativity and a personal touch. For an audience’s attention to be captured you will need to apply at least one of these to your social media or general outreach activities. Focusing on a certain social media platform or demographic can also help to streamline your chances of achieving viral greatness.


TikTok and viral marketing 


Nearly all social media platforms have been known to help brands go viral, but TikTok has to be the most noteworthy of them all. For the uninitiated, TikTok is a massive video platform and as so many people use the app, businesses have had to adapt to creating fun content. We have seen many products go viral through clever TikTok marketing, and with paid ads showcasing various items there really is no better platform to promote yourself on. As soon as an item goes viral, sales increase and the hype around that product is all over the Internet, so it’s no wonder TikTok is the perfect place for viral marketing. 


What types of viral marketing are there?

types of viral marketing

There are lots of viral marketing opportunities, and how you do it depends on the product or service being marketed, and also how you want your customers to see your brand.



  • Evoke emotion – Everyone loves a good sob story or to have their heart burst with happiness, so why not turn it into a successful campaign? 


  • Offer rewards – Prizes and competitions are a great way to get your customers involved and to increase exposure at the same time. 


  • Add humour –  A touch of humour in your marketing adds personality to your brand and allows customers to connect with your human side. 


These three are just a drop in the ocean of ways to go viral, but using the emotional ‘wow’ factor is a guaranteed way to gain attention.


What makes a successful viral marketing campaign? 


The most successful viral marketing campaigns get a conversation going with their customers; they get their audience involved. Whether this is through likes, retweets or a thread of replies, any sort of engagement will always gain traction. People love to feel involved and this is precisely what viral marketing can offer. 


So if you think viral marketing is the thing for you, and you’re looking for some well-needed brand exposure, why not give it a go? Or maybe there are other marketing strategies you’d like to try out? Then take a look at our services page to find out more about how to give your business some TLC. 


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