2016-08-04 | 3268 Print PDF
Have you heard the phrase, 'It went viral'--But what does that mean? Viral marketing is an essential key in branding...it is a marketing technique that involves the use of content in the form of images, videos, even texts to circulate information about a product or service by duplicating or recycling it via online user engagement.
It deals with an exponential growth of getting publicity or viewership of a content from one person to several people without any or minimal contribution from the original author. Just think of it as a perfect way of building a steady influx of network of people sharing the same content over and over again, reuse, recycle, re-engage.
It always start with one person, who in turn share it to others and they in turn share it to others and the system keeps growing till it turns into a viral network of viewers, the funny thing about viral marketing is that some may take time to pick up steam while others can get to a very potential value within days of publishing.
Hope you get the picture viral networking is similar to networking.
When a content is deemed “viral” it is a great achievement for any online marketer, but this is kind of rare for most content that is produced and shared over the internet. Viral marketing holds a great deal of its efficacy to user engagement.
In today's post, we’ll discuss what it means to be viral, some best viral marketing examples, and some important tips on how to setup and achieve ‘virality’ with any viral marketing campaign.
Tell a friend button is a very powerful tool during the early era's of internet marketing, as at then digital marketers will provide you a form to fill your friends email and your name in order to share a specific content of their landing page.
Mostly this is effective with a simple incentive,which can either come as a discount price, a special offer, or a giveaway.
Over the years the viral marketing technique of "tell a friend" as evolved since the climax age of social media.
Tell a friend buttons now include social accounts and not only emails, with a much further feature integration that allows user to "IMPORT" their contact list on both email or social accounts they own.
Tell a friend to me is the first viral marketing technique that was successfully implemented by both brand and internet marketers alike.
This industry as grown so popular that you have companies like addthis, sharethis, etc. So what we have learnt here is that in the past for a content to get viral it highly depends on how many times it got shared ( a vital user engagement signal).
The Social Media Era.
Oh Yes! it is the dawn of the social media sites, well they have come of age with sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram,etc leading the way with enormous outreach and visibility. No wonder getting viral can be excellently executed on social media platforms, if you use the right viral marketing techniques.
One way to get a content go viral is via Facebook Fanpage and integrate it with a contest that is both engaging and have a call to action headline.
If you have seen something like this on Facebook, there is a 100% chance you are not the only one, and you know what there is a higher probability that 10% of your friends will see this contest as soon as you engage on it by liking the page, sharing or tweeting about the contest on your social profile.
I have discussed in depth about how to use this form of marketing on Facebook, which actually is another form of viral marketing. You will find the post Facebook Marketing Strategy For Business well insightful in setting up your own Facebook contest page. You will notice that the contest page strongly provide a time frame call to action and a giveaway goal completion reward for all participants.
Now most of you will be wondering..."do I have to get a Facebook page and build a contest app?" well the good news is that you don't have to be all techie or savvy to get the buzz out to enjoy a good old viral marketing reach, infact simple contents like images that includes words do get traction on viral reach. A good example will be the image below or some laughable memes(which are easily shared on Facebook, Instagram etc and they can be gif, png, or jpeg formats).
Typically, content containing a single message/theme centered around generating emotion have the best effect. Some of the most popular are humor, affection, intrigue, anger or amazement. As long as there is a sentimental effect in the content it will get engagement.
By the way other social sites have got their own share of viral potency, a good example will be the psy's hit song which went viral on YouTube.
Now typically this is a service rendered in the form of music, the thing about the music is that it break through the barrier of ethnicity and even age bracket, and cut itself across other unusual choice of taste in music and dance style.
Recommended: You might want to read Youtube Video Marketing Strategy
For me, most viral content on the internet are closely related viral content of today's commercials. Given the sheer volume of commercials, a typical TV viewer is exposed to an estimated 20,000 a year, according to US firm Media Relations Inc. Because of that large number, most commercials are utterly forgotten. But some, however, do make a difference and stick in our minds.
The characters, jingles, emotions and actions represented in them produce positive or negative feelings towards the brands associated with them. This causes them to stick in our heads long after we’ve seen them. I for one can still remember some old infommercials and TV programs as such.
Some viral contents that are basically text are also know to go viral accompanied with hashtags, a very good example is the #bringbackourgirls hashtag campaign on twitter.
The goal of any viral marketing is to get people to refer (spread the word of mouth) or talking about a product or company. If you're the marketing manager at a company and are responsible for creating a viral marketing campaign, there are several viral marketing ideas that can help you get your campaign out there and on everyone's mind:
Now no matter how complex or elaborate the context of a content can be, they all must share this 4 major attributes as explained below;
When setting up viral marketing strategies of any sort this 4 points should be your pillar foundation. If you take a look at the examples below you will notice they all share this common interest. Apart from some getting a boost using endorsement characters like super stars and influential celebrities.
Best Viral Marketing Campaigns (Viral Marketing Examples).
No viral video chart would be complete without this gem, with many hilarious follow on videos, this made Old Spice the brand that marketers everywhere wanted to work with. This original video has 49.5M views to date.
One of the most suspense thrilled infommercial has to be the TNT ‘push to add drama’ stunt in Belgium, I can never tire of this video. The video has over 51.6M YouTube views and was so successful that a sequel was made to launch TNT in the Netherlands which has over 14.7M views.
To celebrate the release of the first Hobbit film, Air New Zealand released the best safety briefing of all time and secured themselves over 12.1M views. To celebrate the final movie this year they have now released ‘The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made’ in October which has already overtaken the original in views with 13.1M.
There have been other infommercial videos alike that tend to send the message across via popular movie like scenes.
Although it is much disputed whether the original Facebook comment was genuine or a set-up, this video response from Bodyform’s ‘CEO’ was definitely a hit with over 5.6M YouTube views.
Promoting how ‘lifelike’ its new IPS monitors, LG pulled this brilliant stunt replacing an elevator floor with the monitors to make it look like the floor was falling away while unsuspecting people were in the lift to hilarious reactions. The original video has over 22.9M YouTube videos and LG have since filmed other brilliant pranks including the meteor one also below.
Breaking three world records, Felix Baumgartner completed the iconic space jump for Red Bull in October 2012. The Mission Highlights video alone on Red Bull’s channel has over 37.4M views.
One of the most innovative public safety videos of all time, dumb ways to die was a hit around the world and there have since been numerous sequels creates. The original has an amazing 92.9M views on YouTube and the campaign won numerous awards worldwide.
Three’s advert featuring a moonwalking pony became an instant viral hit amassing a whopping 9.7M YouTube views to date. Three also created the PonyMixer which allowed users to create their own version of the Ad however this has since been removed.
Evian’s babies campaign is a common favorite amongst marketers and the public alike, proven by the fact this video has over 96M views! A multi-faceted campaign including an app for users to create their own baby image this was a huge success.
This campaign aimed to prove to women that they were more beautiful than they thought, a powerful video that was uploaded to Dove’s channels worldwide. The original on the US YouTube channel has had over 64.8M views to date.
To promote the movie Carrie, a New York coffee shop was transformed for a hidden camera stunt to capture shoppers’ reactions to telekinesis. The official video has had nearly 60M YouTube views to date. This is also something now adopted by other Hollywood horror movies eg devil's baby for the movie Devil's Due 2014.
This is one of my intriguing infomercial videos of all times, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s epic video doing the splits on two reversing Volvo trucks amazed everyone when it was released in 2013. Who’d have thought a truck video could secure over 76.4M views?!
With feminism and gender equality campaigns securing lots of publicity in 2014 the Always #LikeAGirl was a real hit. The original video has over 53.3M views on YouTube. Their have been videos as such too coming up in the same style but touching on different experiments.
Probably one of the most deserving viral marketing camping to be listed is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, every celebrity worth talking about got involved as did the public all around the world, ti was a wild fire viral marketing. Most importantly though, it significantly raised not only awareness for ALS but also donations to ALS charities. According to the BBC over 2.4 million challenge videos were uploaded to Facebook with $98.2m made in donations to the ALS Association (US) and £2.7m to the MND Association (UK). The below graph from Google trends shows how the interest peaked.
Do you have a favorite viral campaign that is not in this list? Let me know in the comments below! provide a link to it so that others can view likewise and share.