Viral Marketing: Not Just For Cat Videos Anymore

From a quick glance at YouTube, you might think that the only way to make your content go viral is to replace your old marketing strategy with a gaggle of adorable kittens. But before you head down to the animal shelter to cast your next video, we think you should read our list of tips for viral content marketing.

What is viral content?

“Going viral” simply means that your content has been shared on a massive scale. Videos are often associated with going viral. For example, you may be one of the 71 million people who’s seen this Free Hugs video since it was uploaded in 2006.

What makes content go viral?

As shown in the Free Hugs video, people are more likely to share content that has made them feel some sort of emotional reaction. Other reasons people are likely to share content include:

It’s funny. Sometimes you need to take a break from the daily grind with a laugh. Think about it – there’s a reason The Simpsons has been on the air since 1989.

It’s useful. It’s nice to help other people, but sharing useful content can also help people seem a little more savvy or in-the-know.

It’s controversial. When something makes your jaw drop, what’s the first thing you usually do? Well, first you pick your jaw back up off the floor, but then you tell other people about it to watch their reactions.

Bonus: It features cute kids or animals. 

Can you give me an example of a successful viral marketing campaign?

Of course! Since we go above and beyond here at Zen Media, I’ll even give you two examples of online marketing campaigns gone viral.

1. Blendtec

Blendtec sells blenders. Blendtec also puts unusual objects in their blenders, videotapes the results, and posts these videos to YouTube in a series called “Will It Blend?”. They’ve blended a garden rake, some glow sticks, Justin Bieber (not the actual person), and even an iPad. These videos have racked up a total of almost 200 million views. Why? In an absurd way, the video campaign is pretty funny. There’s also the inherent curiosity involved when you see that a grown man is sticking a pool noodle into a blender.

2. Old Spice

How do you revamp a 72-year-old brand? Easy: hire a funny and good-looking spokesman, shoot a well-received Super Bowl commercial, and then spin that off into a social media campaign that results in your shirtless spokesman recording 183 personalized videos in three days (including one where he proposes to someone’s girlfriend for them). The result was millions upon millions of views and an almost 3000% increase in Twitter followers. How? One tactic employed by the team behind the campaign was to dive further into web communities than just Facebook and Twitter – for example, they took questions from both Digg and Reddit.

How do I make my content go viral?

Have a compelling title. The first thing part of your content that people will see, whether it’s a video, story, or infographic, is the title. Your wording needs to immediately spark interest.

Make sharing easy. The less work people have to do to share your post, the more likely they are to pass it along. Ensure that sharing buttons are prominently placed.

Don’t be long-winded. If you’re making a video, cut yourself off at the two-minute mark. Viewership drops off dramatically after that point. For articles, you want to write enough to be informative, but not so much that the reader feels like they’re staring at a wall of text. Break it up with photos and formatting.

Has any of your content ever gone viral? Tell us about it!

Image sources: 1, 2, 3


Don’t miss!

Expert-level insights direct from our CEO’s desk.


Explore the latest in B2B PR and marketing

Let’s talk.

Our clients are smart, thoughtful, & forward-thinking.

Sound like you? Get in touch.