What is Viral Marketing? Some Examples and Why They Worked (or Didn’t)

going viral infographic

With the popularity of social media, I would hope that the majority of businesses are analyzing every campaign they execute with the hope of it being shared through word of mouth to increase it’s reach and potency.

What is Viral marketing?

Viral marketing refers to a technique where content strategists purposely design content that’s both easily transportable and highly engaging so that it’s shared quickly by many people. The vehicle is the key component – the need for the medium to spread through people rather than paying a lot for promotion or airplay. Humorous videos are quite popular, but there are also image memes, and even shared incentives that work like group discounts.

Here’s a great overview of Cycle time

From Emerson Spartz, an expert on Internet virality.

Examples of Viral Marketing Campaigns

Dove Real(ly) Beautiful

Volvo Trucks with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Which spawned Delov Digital’s digitized Chuck Norris version

And 22 Jump Street’s version with Channing Tatum.

The infographic from Best Marketing Degrees also provides some tips on what helps content go viral as well as what to avoid when developing a campaign designed to go viral.

Viral Marketing


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    I like how you mentioned that we should not plan on our effort going viral. This way basics are nurtured, and the details are planned out well. The tying to a current event could be the make or break in a effort going viral or not, interesting thought.

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      Zack – indeed. Even the professionals that work on viral advertising campaigns know there’s a risk of it not going. For that reason, we work to ensure our campaigns always add some kind of value rather than simply trying to be humorous or weird. That way, if they flop, they still may provide some value to the relevant narrow audience reached!

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    Excellent post. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing these examples. There is so much of hard work and risk involved in viral advertising. It’s unfortunate, if it doesn’t go viral but I totally agree that we shouldn’t plan the campaign assuming it will go viral. Looking forward to such interesting posts.

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