Viral Marketing Initiatives

Viral marketing is a powerful tool. Creating a great marketing campaign that goes viral can create brand awareness by using social media. However, not everything a brand creates goes viral… Marketers and their team can take months and months of planning to create a viral campaign only to have it flop at launch. But do not get discouraged, there are many tips and tricks that can be used to help assist your marketing campaign go viral.

There are many elements required to create viral content, such as knowing and understanding your target audience. Ensuring that you truly understanding your audience will make it easier when creating viral content that entices your people’s attention. It is also important to select the best social media platform for your content that will reach your target audience and showcase your content best. When trying to achieve something going viral on social media you need to focus on creating content that is timely and engaging. The overall goal is to create content that will generate high engagement and be re-shared on social media.

Five characteristics of a viral campaign:


Growing up I remember waiting for the new Budweiser Clydesdale commercial at every Superbowl even though it typically ended with a room full of watery eyes in our household. Viral content that appeals to our emotions is very successful, emotions like surprise, sadness, hope, and excitement. The Budweiser Clydesdale commercials always seem to evoke sadness followed by hope or happiness in their videos. Not only is their content appealing and pull at viewers heart-strings, but they also incorporate storytelling in every viral commercial.


A good way to get your content to go viral is to present it in story form. A story has the ability to add humanity and personality to any brand. It can help your target audience identify your brands interests and beliefs. In 2013, Dove released a film called Real Beauty Sketches. It explored that gap between how we see ourselves and how others see us. Each woman in the video has two portraits draw: one based on her own description and another using a stranger’s observations. The results were shocking and conveyed a beautiful message to its viewers.

Good CTA

A Call to Action is commonly found in a large majority of viral content on social media. It allows people to share your content and show their support. This is a great way to increase engagement and encourages viewers to interact with the campaign. When I think of a good CTA viral campaign, I immediately think of the Ice Bucket challenge for ALS in 2014. Over $115 million was donated during an 8-week period during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that year. The challenge was a game-changer for ALS awareness, it greatly increased awareness about this terrible disease and hugely impacted research donations.


GoPro’s video of raw footage showing a California firefighter, Cory Kalanick rescuing an unconscious kitten from smoke inhalation. The firefighter was wearing GoPro’s HD Hero3 camera at the time. Afterwards the video was posted to YouTube where it gained the attention of millions including GoPro. In the following weeks, GoPro obtained the footage, added their logo and shared it on their own YouTube channel where they received over 5 million views in the first week. The video was heartbreaking, in addition to the kitten later passing away from the smoke inhalation, and demonstrating GoPro’s camera in action and its ability to capture memorable moments.

Stance on Social Issues

While it can be considered risky we have seen brands take a social stance on current issues in their viral content. Nike’s recently launched campaign, Dream Crazy with Colin Kaepernick instantly went viral. It immediately sparked outraging from some who went on to burn their shoes on social media in disagreement, while others applauded Nike for their boldness. At the center of the campaign was Kaepernick who has been in the spotlight over becoming the first NFL player to protest over racial injustice during the national anthem at games by taking a knee. In the future, I expect to see more brands come forward and take a social stance on current issues our society is facing. Following the campaign’s launch, 42.7% of consumers said it improved their perception of the brand.



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