How To Use Viral Marketing To Obtain Viral Success

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Here’s how to make it happen.

Is it possible to become an online sensation overnight? It surely is, and it’s doable, thanks to viral or word-of-mouth marketing. In other words, people pass information to one another really fast, making larger audiences aware of a specific trend. Numbers also prove the effectiveness of viral marketing. According to statistics by SEMrush:

  • Word-of-mouth is more effective than online ads, bringing five times more sales.
  • 64% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective branding strategy.
  • 83% of professionals think viral marketing improves brand awareness.

So, if you look closely at these numbers, you’ll see why 70% of marketers are investing more and more into word-of-mouth marketing. After all, who doesn’t want instant popularity? However, it’s not as easy as it seems. You can become well-known overnight, but viral success still requires preparation and an elaborate strategy. How can you make it happen?

Take a look.

Get to Know Your Audience

First of all, it is crucial to know the people you’re targeting – they will be the first ones to spread the word about your brand and content, so it’s important to reach out to the right crowd. Where should you start? You need information about your audience’s demographics, namely age, gender, location, etc. This information is accessible via CRM tools and customer service software, which collects queries from your clients and accumulates their demographic data.

Besides, if your brand is active on social media, you can also track social media data to get a better understanding of who you’re targeting. It also makes sense to involve social media analytics because you will most likely use these channels for your viral marketing efforts. For instance, if you go to Facebook Insights, you can check out the demographic data on your followers in real-time:

Note: don’t skip the data on the language your followers speak. Even if most of them speak English, you will still have to learn Japanese if the second largest group of followers uses this language to browse social media. Taking this data into consideration helps increase your chances of going viral.

Study Trends

If you take a look at all the previous cases of viral success, you’ll see that all of them followed specific trends. For instance, do you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? It was initiated by the ALS Association to spread awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and united hundreds of celebrities around the world, including Bill Gates:  

Philanthropists, who joined this trend, helped the ALS Association increase its annual funding by 187% but also got their own personal branding boosted. So, where can you find the information about the latest trends? First and foremost, commit to tracking social media hashtags. The best platform to do that is Twitter – it collects the latest trending topics in the #Explore section:


You can also track the same hashtags on Instagram and Facebook to detect if people are sharing content on the same topic across these platforms too. Another option is to track topics in Google Trends – simply add a keyword you’re interested in, specify your location and the timeframe:


Credit: Google Trends

You can track the trend worldwide, but we don’t recommend targeting such a big audience right away. Instead, focus your efforts on the audience from a specific location – it will be easier to spread the message.

Consider Key Components of a Viral Message

The way you shape your message impacts its virality. You want something that people will gravitate towards, something that will make them want to spread the word. A viral message has five characteristic features:

  • Universal appeal. Since your ultimate goal is to reach out to a wider public, possibly, to a global audience, your message cannot address something that only a small group of people will understand.
  • Ideally, the message should be concise and straightforward – these two qualities make it easy to share.
  • The message should be formulated in a way that makes the target audience feel connected to it. You can achieve it by appealing to the right emotions.

On top of the above-mentioned characteristics, your viral message should also reflect the branding strategy of your business. Even though you’re trying to target a particular trend, which hundreds of other companies are probably trying to take advantage of, make sure you do it from the viewpoint of your own business. You don’t want to mix with the crowd if you want to obtain viral success.

Wrapping Up

Indeed, viral success often seems to happen overnight, but it doesn’t mean no work goes into it. As you can see, you need to plan all your actions beforehand to increase your chance of going viral. Let’s recap all the necessary steps you need to take to implement a successful viral marketing campaign:

  • Get to know your audience. Go through all the data available to have a better idea of who you’re trying to reach. Remember – your target audience will be the first to spread the message.
  • Track the trends. This way, you won’t miss an opportunity to go viral.
  • Write a viral message. It should be straightforward, relatable, emotional, have a universal appeal, and reflect your branding strategy.
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