How Viral Marketing Works | What Business Marketers Should Know

Considering Viral Marketing, does your business have the votes of confidence it needs from Social Media Marketing Networks? Well, it takes time to build your brand awareness across the web and create meaningful connections with your customers and followers. Especially, through Social Media Marketing (SMM).

As such, the jmexclusives marketing agency provides quite a number of Social Media Marketing strategies for small businesses, enterprises, and even multiple-location companies. No matter if you own a startup or a Fortune 500 company, our Social Media Marketing Experts can assist you with your campaign.

For this reason, all you’ll need is to partner with us and let our Social Media Marketing Agency boost your brand visibility and integrity! Notably, our Social Media Marketing Specialists will first explain to you all the various elements involved. Like the different aspects of B2C, B2B, Viral Marketing, etc.

What Is Viral Marketing?

Viral Marketing or Viral Advertising is a business strategy that uses existing Social Media Networks to promote a product mainly on various social media platforms. It’s a common name that refers to how consumers spread information about a product to other people.

In short, it’s much in the same way that a virus spreads from one person to another. Meaning, it’s a marketing strategy in which you create online content that is convincing and inspiring enough. And also, that your target audience spreads and shares it with their friends.

Related: The Ultimate List of Marketing Strategy Planning Tools | 14 Editable Templates

It’s similar to word-of-mouth advertising, except that much of it happens online. If you wish to promote your brand using viral marketing, your focus should be to create content that has the potential to “go viral.”

Now that it’s a style of promotion that relies on an audience to generate the message. While, in terms of marketing, it’s considered “viral” when it reaches the point where it’s being shared by the public at large. Rather than just its target audience. If achieved, your message will be in nearly everyone’s social media feed.

How does Viral Marketing work?

In reality, much of modern viral marketing on social media can be illustrated by the popularity of memes. Although not necessarily tied to a specific product, how memes spread goes hand in hand with the principles going viral.

Think about how seemingly random phenomena like Baby Yoda or “OK boomer” take over your social feeds out of nowhere. Memes get shared and promoted like crazy because they resonate with people. And, all the while outsiders involve themselves with meme trends via “likes” and shares.

The same rules apply to viral marketing in which followers and customers share a brand’s content because their message or ad is buzz-worthy. See an example of a recent viral thread by Wendys below.

In other words, viral marketing campaigns are sort of like “lighting in a bottle” for brands. Many will try, but few will actually manage to receive the sort of universal reach they’re looking for.

Although viral messages and content vary wildly from business to business, there are three distinct elements that most campaigns share. Whereby, marketers should always try and keep them in mind. Especially, when trying to assess whether or not a campaign has the potential for some serious buzz.

Viral Trends Are Timely

Simply put, trends come and go. Although viral marketing campaigns have the potential to leave an impression on customers or the public at large, people have pretty short attention spans for these types of memes, hot topics, and trends.

By the time one trend blows up, we’re often looking for the next craze. Brands should be wary of trying to repeat another viral campaign or exhaust a popular trend. Just because something’s hot now doesn’t mean it’ll have staying power for years to come.

Viral Trends Are Organic

A reality check is that viral campaigns can’t be forced. In the case of any sort of trend, whether or not something gets shared around is ultimately decided by your audience. By all means, most user-based content spreads organically.

And that’s how viral marketing works too. Oftentimes, it’s about being at the right place at the right time. Or rather, saying the right thing at the right time. That said, marketers can always set up their content for sharing by having a pulse on social trends.

Viral Trends Are Bold

Bear in mind there’s an inherent risk involved with viral marketing campaigns and tactics. Going viral means doing something that grabs the attention of the public. But, that doesn’t happen by accident, nor does it happen by playing it safe.

However, it could have also been perceived as being too edgy or “trying too hard” in a different era. It likewise might not seem like much out of the ordinary if it came out today. However, not all viral marketing campaigns are controversial adverts when it comes to digital online advertising. But, they tend to be out of the left field which is also something of a concern.

How to Create a Viral Advertising Campaign

Well, if you’re still itching for your business to “go viral,” I don’t blame you. Simply, because brands rightfully want to get their names and content in front of as many people as possible.

In fact, raising brand awareness is number one among the top social media goals of marketers today. And this explains why so many businesses look towards a good viral marketing strategy. More so, as an opportunity to catapult themselves into social media superstardom.

Related: How Google AdSense Native Ads Work | Webmaster Guide

But, does chasing trends and one-off moments really make sense these days? Shouldn’t brands be focusing on social media as part of a bigger marketing funnel instead? The concept of viral marketing definitely deserves some revisiting as we enter a new decade.

Definitely, whichever industry you are in, you have to spread your wings in order to grow. You have to grow your brand and extend your products’ market reach for your company to withstand the huge competition that every industry is facing today.

Related: 5 tips and tools to help your business stand out in customer service

On one side, there is a cliché that if a business fails to expand, the obvious outcome is that it shrinks. That cliché is very accurate. When companies fail to attract new audiences, they also fail to make inroads in new regions.

On the other side, businesses often ignore the need for targeting new demographics. And as a result, they often end up becoming smaller and eventually extinct. With that understanding, you have to constantly look for effective ways to boost your website traffic.

Likewise, you need to redesign your marketing strategies too. In order to make them explosive and convincing. One such way is viral marketing. That said, below are a few steps that will help you come up with viral content for your marketing campaign.

1. Get your target audience right

Do you run a fashion blog? Is it an eCommerce website? Whatever the case, it’s always important to consider your viral marketing campaign lead audience first.  Not forgetting, many marketers often make the mistake of developing viral content that will resonate with everyone.

It’s sad to say that when you create content for everyone, you are actually creating it for no one. In short, you cannot appeal to everyone! Of course, no one has ever managed to do that. Not even the jmexclusives or even its competitors alike.

However, if you want to impress everyone, the only shortcut is to create multiple sites. Let’s say one for digital marketing, SEO, advertising, social media, how-to, etc. And another one for fashion, beauty, health, fitness, wellness, etc.

But, if you have to incorporate a variety of topic categories, make sure that the key ones always stand out the most. By so doing, you’ll be able to know your audience even better. Make sure that you find out what they love about your products.

As well as what their needs really are. And then, make sure that you tailor your content to their heart’s desire, product needs, and personal lives.

2. Make sure that your message is clear 

Always remember, your main goal is to speak to the heart of an individual customer. Therefore, ensure that your message is always clear. And that it’s in the language that the customer understands best.

At the same time, your message should also be inspiring and motivating to your overall audience. Bearing in mind, just like any piece of pizza (that we all love) everyone has their own unique taste when it comes to content too.

It’s true that most viral campaigns are accidental, but that should never be an excuse for not sufficiently planning your campaign. By the same token, you should make your content visually oriented. You probably know that most viral messages are visual.

Videos and images are easier for people to digest, which makes them easier to share. You will get more shares for a video than a block, static text. So, make sure that your content has a mix of images, diagrams, videos, reference links, etc.

3. Choose the right channel

It’s important to realize, your message could have all the makings of viral content, yes. But, it won’t reach many people if you share it on the wrong platforms. That’s why you have to disseminate it through the channels that house most of your target customers.

For example, if you want the message to reach a youthful audience, you have a better shot if you share it on Instagram rather than Facebook. If you decide to share it on Facebook, make sure you do so to the groups of members that can relate to that content.

Other important channels that will help you promote to, and reach, a wide audience include Twitter and YouTube. Pinterest is also a free way social media channel to consider and reach out to even a wider audience. As well as Reddit and Google My Business.

You have to have a plan of action with your content and viral campaigns are no different.  Years ago, marketers might have tried to argue that viral content has to catch on in whatever way possible. Sorry, times have changed, though. Not all press is “good” press anymore.

4. Prepare for growth

Notably, a successful viral marketing campaign will bring you explosive growth. That means more customers, more online traffic, more markets, and more client demographics. Are you ready for that growth?

If yes, make sure that your web hosting is readied for huge online traffic. Make sure your offline store has sufficient inventory too. And that your overall merchant is prepared for a sudden upsurge in sales.

Moreover, if your marketing campaign is explosive but fails to satisfy your new customers, your brand reputation can be damaged irredeemably. One of the biggest problems of companies attempting to go viral is not knowing why they want to be in everyone’s social media feed.

Ask yourself the following:
  • Are you looking for more mentions?
  • Brand awareness?
  • Trying to catch the eyes of customers?

Aligning your viral attempts with your overall goals. For one thing, this will guide you towards creating meaningful content. Rather than just throwing something together and hoping that it sticks.

5. Work on people’s emotions

Tug on your audiences’ emotions. For example, you can hire a comedian to send your message out in a humorous way. You can also make it sentimental if you know that it will catch emotions better and still inform your audience.

Anything that inspires hope, makes people laugh, and offers solutions to fears and dreams is good for catching emotions. Try also to offer an incentive for anyone who shares your content. It’s also good to promise to offer a free product or cash prize for anyone who shares your content.

For instance, a post on Facebook promoting your message and gets the most comments. If you are sending the content to an email list, you can try to include the option of referring friends. And then, you can promise to reward the email subscriber who refers the newest subscribers.

6. Put your plan into action

Biblically, ‘Faith without Actions is Dead.’  The same goes for a viral marketing campaign. Take for instance the item discussed above (working on people’s emotions). By doing so, your followers will be competing for the incentive.

This will also force them to keep sharing your message, consequently making it viral. Unfortunately, your campaign will not explode by accident. So, make sure that you make all the necessary arrangements to make it viral.

Remember that all your competitors are working hard to make their content go viral, too. Thus, you too cannot afford to leave anything to chance. It’s no secret that customers are more loyal to businesses that exceed their expectations and delight them.

More specifically, online-based businesses must strive to “Design for Delight” at all times. And then again, make sure that they fall in love with their customer’s problems. Not to mention, this has been the jmexclusives team weapon and has worked for countless other brands too.

7. Use Marketing Tools for Web Marketers

Technically, there are so many marketing tools for web marketers that can be used in order to win back online customers. And they are significantly useful tools for just one thing — to impress their web users’ interest. As they try to get their message across in an ad-blocking world.

Before the emergence of AdBlockers like Adblock Plus, digital marketing used to be so simple. Until now that we’ve all entered the age of adblocking, banner blindness, and instant gratification. And although patience may be a virtue, it seems to be in dwindling supply.

Just like the thumb rule, as webmasters, we have one need, to attract visitors to click on those ads. It’s so unlikely that those same visitors that we die-hard trying to convert, also claim to despise ads. But, when it comes to digital marketing, there is always a way and new marketing tools for web marketers.

Such tools will greatly help you as a web marketer to win both new and old leads. But, the biggest part is on how to play by the book (apart from quality content, good SEO, backlinks, etc.). That said, you can see some of the best marketing tools in detail.

8. Delight your customers over and over again

But, how do we delight our customers over and over again? Well, a recent study on Harvard Business Review examined 75,000 people. Some who had interacted with customer service over phone, web, voice prompts, chat, and email.

According to the research, there are two biggest discoveries we made. First, great customer service is built by simply reducing your customer’s effort – the work they must do to get their problem solved.

This goes hand in hand with Deep Customer Empathy in Intuit’s Design for Delight process. Secondly, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service and reduce customer service costs.

9. Become BFFs with social media reporting tools

I hope you still remember what we said earlier about your audience playing a pivotal role in what gets shared around?

Whether you’re looking to curate or create viral content, you’re going to need to know what resonates with your followers. But, how do you figure that out, though? For starters, look at which pieces of content perform the best by monitoring these social media metrics.

Consider the following:
  • Audience engagement
  • Keyword traffic and performance
  • Page impressions
  • Clicks and reach
  • Demographic data

Each of these social media metrics can give you insight into what has shareable potential. Maybe it’s a video. Perhaps it’s a meme.

Regardless, a social media analytics tool like Sprout can easily break down the performance of individual pieces of content and campaigns alike. From there, you can start to build future campaigns based on what’s working and gotten shared in the past.

10. Make sure your content is primed for sharing

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you have to make sure your content is optimized for quick and easy sharing. For example, social campaigns shouldn’t be confined to your business’ main account.

From blogs and newsletters to in-person events and others in your network, consider how far you can spread your message that’s available to you. And then, brainstorm the best social media channels for any given promotion or piece of content.

For example, image-based content is a fair game for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Viral videos are prime for YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram as well. It’s smart to make sharing as seamless as possible. You can make your audience have an easier time sharing your campaign by

Consider the following:
  • Providing several different routes to share
  • Giving away free products or services
  • Finding the common motivations of your main audience
  • Asking questions that get viewers or readers thinking and talking
  • Never restricting or gating your content

Likewise, Hashtags go hand in hand with more social shares. For the sake of awareness and easy sharing, tacking on a hashtag for any given campaign is a very smart move. In order to make it more visible and memorable in the eyes of your audience.

Taking the time to create a hashtag is likewise worthwhile for tracking the success of your campaigns in terms of mentions and shares too. And with the help of hashtag analytics, you can uncover other relevant hashtags your audience is using. While also measuring the performance of your own.

Why You Should Consider Trendjacking

You may not be familiar with the term “trendjacking,” yet but if you’ve spent any amount of time on social media, you’ve definitely seen it in action. Trendjacking happens when brands and organizations notice something that is gaining a lot of attention online. And then interjects themselves into it.

In short, it’s the act of a third party applying brand content to a trending topic. The trending topic can be anything – usually, it’s a hashtag, event, meme, or new slang term. Arguably the easiest way to raise brand awareness without going viral yourself is through trendjacking.

Related: Trendjacking: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Multiview

This means piggybacking your brand onto a meme, relevant pop culture reference, or some other viral piece of content to promote your business. This has become one of the staple marketing practices for those trying to get a piece of the viral market.

Smaller companies oftentimes get involved with viral marketing through social media rends and “challenges.” And it’s often spread quickly on the likes of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Through social listening, you can tap into these sorts of trends in real-time.


It’s important to realize, marketers are looking for a concrete ROI from their time spent on social media. Meaning, going after viral moments rather than looking at the big picture of your presence doesn’t make sense as a top priority for most brands.

Even so, there are actionable tips and takeaways from viral marketing that brands of all shapes and sizes can benefit from. More so, in terms of staying in touch with what audiences are buzzing about. As well as reacting in a way that both fits and furthers your brand identity.

Related: How is Social Media Marketing done? A Step-by-step guide

If nothing else, all marketers should have a handle on what makes social content shareable and buzz-worthy. It’s no secret that customers are more loyal to businesses that exceed their expectations and delight them.

As a business, we must strive to “Design for Delight” and fall in love with our customer’s problems. Furthermore, this has been the jmexclusives secret weapon for years. And has worked for countless other brands too.

Finally, do you think the above guide is useful to you or your brand? Feel free to share your opinion thoughts, suggestions, or even questions in our comments section. But, if you’ll need more help, you can Contact Us and let us know how we can support you.

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