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In Digital Marketing Last updated: September 4, 2023
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Want to see thousands of viewers for your brand marketing content in a short time without investing much? You can explore viral marketing campaigns!

One great product of years of marketing research is viral marketing. Here you do not just use a marketing team to create brand or product awareness. You involve anyone, not necessarily your target audience, to do marketing for you. 

Wondering why would the public market your brand for free? Read the content until the end to get the answer and how it can benefit your online marketing plans.   

What is Viral Marketing?


Viral marketing is a method where a brand, product, service, or celebrity profile relies on word-of-mouth promotion. In conventional marketing, like TV or online ads, you pay a media to play or publish your marketing collateral like videos, images, brand messages, etc.

However, in viral marketing, you publish unique and creative content filled with fun, entertainment, satire, or social activity messaging. Here, the main marketing media is social media, YouTube, marketing emails, Google Ads, and even TV commercials.

Your core audience and the general internet users will pick this up from several media. They would share the content with their family, friends, colleagues, and other known associates. These people will keep on sharing, and finally, millions of users have your content or marketing message.

Such a quick spread of content is known as a viral sensation or going viral. When your marketing collateral goes viral, you can call that viral marketing.


For example, Duolingo had only 50,000 followers on its TikTok channel. But, they were successful in bringing this number to 2.9 million followers through viral marketing on TikTok, as reported in an IBL News report.

Duolingo created several TikTok videos where the famous Duolingo green owl mascot shows great obsession towards the celebrity singer and songwriter Dua Lipa in funny videos. One such video has 196.8K likes, 2.907 comments, and 2,143 shares.

Why is Viral Marketing Important?


Viral marketing is important for businesses because it gives extraordinary numbers of clicks, views, shares, forwards, likes, impressions, and more for your brand marketing content or advertisements. 

You must be spending thousands of dollars in PPC campaigns to get a few hundred clicks. In viral marketing campaigns, you get thousands, if not millions, for free. Of course, it will require outstanding creativity, content idea, trending capability, and months of trial and error. 

But, the result will wipe out the stress from your marketing and content creation team’s face. Everyone will rejoice by seeing that not just your target audience but unrelated internet users are also viewing your content, liking it, and forwarding that to a couple of hundred other users.

A viral marketing campaign, if done right, is more than just your brand. You are connecting millions of netizens in a web of content where everyone talks about your creativity and idea.  

The Benefits of Viral Marketing

Assures Outstanding Results

Making marketing content or messaging go viral could take years. But when your team is successful, your brand becomes a sensation among social media dwellers, Twitteratis, bloggers, meme makers, and so on.


The results are assured, which include loads of prospects, organic conversions, thousands of newsletter subscribers, and more.  

Extremely Low Cost

You just need an idea and well-illustrated content. Video is the gold standard here. The public will do the rest. You do not need to invest a single cent in pushing internet users to watch your content. Just post it on your social media handle, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and wherever you can.  

Its Reach Is Beyond the Internet

Viral marketing campaigns are so effective that it reaches those who do not have access to the internet. Enthusiasts perceive such viral content as a tool of entertainment. 

They will print copies of the content if it is a tagline, meme, or artwork. Some take it to the next level and use video broadcasting systems to show the content to the masses.  

Gives Results in a Short Period

It is the only marketing tool that can deliver outstanding results quickly should you get your hands on some good viral content ideas. If your brand is struggling for a while, the viral marketing campaign is worth a try.  

Generates Tons of Leads

Generates Tons of Leads

A large part of the public who participates in making your content a viral sensation would actually visit your website. They would try a few more content that you published or check out the products or services you offer. That’s it! You’ve got plenty of leads to follow up on for the whole year. 

Creates a Non-Invasive Perception

In a viral campaign, content is king, not your brand. You will understate your brand. Maybe the logo or name would show up in a few frames. 

Also, you are not forcing the user to consume the content. The users are doing it for entertainment, fun, or to support a social cause. 

Your brand effectively creates a non-invasive perception around it and the customers truly like such attitude.   

Converts Leads to Customers Automatically

Some high enthusiast users would buy your products or services upfront. Such actions give them an emotional feeling that they are now part of the trend or social cause. 

More Data for Market Analysis

More Data for Market Analysis

You get terabytes of consumer data when your digital ad or YouTube video goes viral. Your data science team can leverage advanced techniques to find new patterns. Ultimately, you will discover new customer bases, the new scope for your products/services, and so on.   

Increases Your Brand’s Credibility

You can showcase such brand engagements as credibility to your investors and shareholders. It is a moment of pride when you can say that the brand you started has gone viral and it would now be worth billions. 

Make Long-Term Business Relationships

A fraction of the customers will stay connected with your business for long years to come even if the viral phenomenon has faded away. 

Examples of Viral Marketing


Zoom viral marketing

Virtual conferencing software company Zoom came up with a fun-filled viral competition in March 2020 when the global digital workforce was working from home due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The competition required the participants to share pictures or videos via Zoom virtual background on the social media handle of the campaign.

Many new users had signed up in the initial days after the campaign launch just to participate in the competition.     


Apple viral marketing

Apple came up with the ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign to promote the iPhone X smartphone. The device brought some outstanding camera features that very few devices offered during its launch. 

Proud Apple iPhone X owners started sharing creative photographs, portraits, and selfies on the social media platform for the campaign. The campaign soon went viral and truly augmented device sales.

This global brand also announced the competition winners on its Newsroom portal.  



Dropbox customer referral program rewards both the referrer and referee with free 500 MB to 1 GB extra cloud storage space. Before the program, the brand reported a mere 100K (as of 2008) registered users. But, after this viral marketing campaign, in just 15 months, Dropbox recorded a whopping 4 million registered users.   


Spotify viral marketing campaigns

Spotify ran a swift marketing campaign along with Facebook to increase the customer base for both platforms.

In this viral marketing scheme, Spotify allowed its users to publish a playlist of full-length songs on their Facebook profile. Then, followers and friends of the user can listen to those songs for free with a single click. 

The scheme went so viral that Facebook and Spotify had to expand this integration in 175 countries as of 06/17/2021.  


Twitter SxSW 2006

The leading microblogging platform launched commercially in a 2006 South by South West (SXSW) conference. Twitter placed giant screens around the conference venue. Then, campaign participants with Twitter account flooded these screen with microblogs about the SXSW conference. 

This marketing strategy went viral. Before this event, Twitter was catering to up to 20,000 tweets a day. After this event, the number of tweets tripled to 60,000 a day, as reported by Harvard Business School.  

Viral Marketing Strategies


#1. Scale Up Your Online Assets

If the viral content marketing campaign becomes a successful one, you will need to handle huge website traffic, newsletter subscribers, and leads. Not to mention, customers will be pouring in from new markets. Hence, upgrade your website and app to handle the extra load. 

#2. The Target Audience Must Relate to Your Brand

You must create viral content for a target audience. Then, these initial audience groups may forward your content to unrelated and related users on a massive scale.

If you do not have an initial target, then the content may not see the expected shares and forwards required to go viral.  

#3. Give a Clear Marketing Message


Ensure that the content language is appropriate for all the sections of users. Use a local language if you are a small business. Medium and large organizations can use English, French, Spanish, German, and so on.  

#4. Keep Your Brand Presence Minimal

Keep in mind that your aim is to engage and provoke the viewer to act. Hence, keep your brand at a minimal level. Otherwise, the visuals might look more commercial than fun. 

#5. Post Content On the Right Medium

Share the content through various mediums so that none of the target audience misses out on the content. Because these audiences are your regular traffic, and they will play a key role in making the content viral.

#6. Focus on the Audience’s Emotion

You need to research the target audience’s emotions. Then, target their emotion with the content topic since these kinds of videos and visuals easily become viral.

How Do Viral Marketing Work?


The primary driving factor for viral marketing campaigns to succeed is word-of-mouth promotion. There must be a sizeable volume of users who are ready to accept your content and enjoy consuming it. Here is how a standard campaign will progress: 

  • The content, marketing, and product team brainstormed to find a content idea, preferably a short video. 
  • It could also be quizzes, challenges, etc., but related to your brand.
  • Create the content and test it internally to ensure it will not create anger in the netizen community.
  • Publish the video or any other content that you decide through social media handles, forums, video-sharing platforms, news portals, press release aggregators, messaging apps, and more.
  • Let us consider that the content will go viral.
  • In that case, a few users will watch it from the primary hosted sites.
  • These users will share the content with more people.
  • There is a chain reaction of content sharing.
  • Within a few hours, you will see millions of views, likes, shares, etc.     

Viral Marketing: Bonus Ideas


Try to Solve a Problem

When brainstorming content for viral marketing, try to answer questions that the users are asking. The answer or solution to the problem should be informative, educative, entertaining, and easy to grasp by all classes of society.  

Use Controversies With Limits

Many marketing teams use controversies with success. But, it might sometime backfire. So, limit the usage of controversial topics. 

Stay Away From Fake News

Posting fake news to go viral is really cheap and unethical. You could do more harm than good. 

Extensively research the social media platforms for trending topics, images, videos, and articles. Then apply your creativity to create something unique that entertains everyone. 

Try Niche Audiences

You could also try a specific audience group to get started with your first viral marketing campaign. 

If you are dealing with SaaS products, create funny content around software development, debugging, etc. You could definitely engage with the whole developer community. 

Say No to Serious Social Subjects

Say No to Serious Social Subjects
From Pepsi Ad Live for Now Moments Anthem

During the highly sensitive social movement Black Lives Matter, Pepsi published the “Join the Conversation” advertisement. Though the ad tried to preach understanding and unity the activist took it the other way. Soon, Pepsi had to recall the advertisement.

Thus, stay away from serious and highly emotional topics that can not be content for fun or entertainment. 

Wrapping Up

Now you know what viral marketing campaigns are and how they work. You have also discovered some strategies and best tips for your next viral marketing project. 

Not to mention the article also presented some phenomenal viral marketing campaign examples that would stay in netizens’ minds for many years to come.

You may also be interested in field marketing for increased sales and profitability.

  • Tamal Das
    Tamal is a freelance writer at Geekflare. After completing his MS in Science, he joined reputed IT consultancy companies to acquire hands-on knowledge of IT technologies and business management. Now, he’s a professional freelance content… read more
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