Online marketing is all about sharing. More sharing equals a wider reach for a message. Every online marketer dreams of having that perfect viral marketing campaign that reaches an incredibly wide audience, far beyond the brand’s own reach, and connects with people across the world
The viral marketing examples below may not all be 100% viral sensations for every brand every time, but they are the surest bet towards getting more shares. Creating content that is highly shareable is the first step in any viral marketing campaign. Read on to start building your plan for the best viral marketing examples for tweets, blogs, Facebook updates, YouTube videos, and all other digital content!
10 Viral marketing examples for digital marketing with reach
If it’s popular RIGHT NOW, it can go viral RIGHT NOW
Trending hashtags, trending topics, and breaking news stories are always exceptional viral marketing opportunities. While you can use these trending ideas on any platform, they tend to work best on the RIGHT NOW obsessed Twitter.
For the best impact, choose the right moments for your brand. If there’s a trending hashtag on Twitter about #crazydogstories, and you sell dog food, jump on that. If there’s a trending story on Facebook about a new space discovery, and you sell orthopedic shoes, you’d better hope that discovery was Martians have foot alignment issues.
Here’s a tweet from a company I’ve never heard of before that received 52 retweets and 70 Favorites:
— A Game Sport Psych (@AGameSportPsych) September 9, 2015
Which is great for them as they only have 120 followers at this point. If they keep this up they’ll be growing in no time! Also, when in doubt: Cat meme.
There is also something to be said for being clever:
#RelationshipsTheseDaysAre like toilet paper. Either they are super plushy, strong and awesome…. or they are full of crap. Choose wisely.
— Charmin (@Charmin) March 14, 2013
Respond to comments on all of your accounts
Your fans and followers are giving you viral marketing examples to follow all day long when they comment. They may not be saying it directly, but they’re telling you the type of content that they want you to create.
If you’re getting lots of positive comments on one particular type of article, this is your cue to create more content around that idea. When many people are asking a particular question over and over, create some content that speaks to those needs.
Even if you’re brand new, with no fans or followers, there are still the content streams of other accounts to look through. Find your competitors, read what their fans are saying, and create content that will take them away from those competitors. There are plenty of shares waiting for you when your fans say “Thank you, that’s exactly what I wanted to read!”
Dip into pop culture when it works
There are great viral marketing examples out there of brands tapping into pop culture and seeing incredible share numbers. There are also terrible examples which fizzle out and end up with the brand being nothing but thought less of by its current followers.
It’s all going to be about context. The summer blockbuster movie isn’t going to be worth much of a mention if your business is air duct repair. If, however, the big summer blockbuster happened to have the hero crawling through air ducts, you may have something there. A large part of using pop culture as part of your viral marketing is how you’ll tie it together with your brand. It takes some imagination in some cases, but it can be worth it.
Here’s a Super Bowl tweet during Katy Perry’s Halftime performance that worked great:
— BarkBox (@barkbox) February 2, 2015
You’ve got mail – that’s full of viral ideas
This is another case of your fans and current customers telling you what they want. You’ll need to do a bit of tracking on your clicks, which is simply enough with a tool like bit.ly, to see what’s being shared and clicked on.
This harkens back to the earliest sharing opportunities when we had the ‘Forward’ button in our email. We know that email marketing is still effective, take what you’re learning there and apply it to your social media marketing to take those results forward.
Everyone loves to read ‘The Best BLANKS of This Year’ lists
These lists typically start to take off at the end of the year with ‘The Best of 2015 themes’, but feel free to also make them for different occasions:
- The Best BLANKS of Summer
- The Best BLANKS We Heard at ‘Trade Show’
- The Best Reactions to BLANK on Tonight’s ‘TV Show’
Lists are incredibly shareable on every social media platform. Why? People like them as a quick way to spend a few minutes, and they can start a discussion like few other things.
I wonder how many shares this 500 Best Guitar players list has had for Rolling Stone:
— Leyendas Music (@Leyendas5) August 27, 2014
Get people talking by starting a debate
There are some things which will be discussed for all of time:
- How to hang the toilet paper
- How to eat your favorite food
- Where the best vacations in the world are
- Favorite movie and TV shoes
It seems like people have only one truly international pastime, and it’s debating the more trivial things in life.
— Lonely Planet (@lonelyplanet) September 8, 2015
Steer clear of religion and politics, unless you want to start a fight!
Stay positive, don’t go viral for the wrong reasons
The standard news media is all about reporting the big, scary things going on in the world. People go to social media for a break. You can give them that break by sharing positivity. The way you’re going to really do viral marketing is by getting someone to go ‘Yes, I want to share that with my friends!’ People are more apt to want to make their friends feel good than bad.
Here’s a post from Vegan.com on Facebook showing you 4,400+ shares, and lots of comments and Likes, just from bringing a happy story to people:
Examine your need for more social proof
Often times, the biggest hurdle you’ll have to get over for viral marketing is your lack of social proof. To put it simply:
If you don’t have a lot of shares, you don’t get a lot of shares.
This is the biggest catch 22 of viral marketing. You need numbers to get numbers. People are much more prone to share a piece of content if they see that someone else has already shared it.
If you know you have great content that will be shared if it just has a little extra push, it may be the right time for you to buy a Twitter retweet service for your tweeted content, or even purchase a Pinterest Likes and repins package. This could be just the tool to get your post shared instinctively by your followers who want to be part of your successful viral content.
Viral contests and giveaways are HUGE
Social media marketing is about adding value to the newsfeed and timelines on your followers. Remember that they’re here to talk to their friends and family. Your brand message is now as important. You make it important by sharing things with them that they want, and free stuff is what everyone wants!
Creating a contest that adds a share aspect to it as part of entry can go viral in a heartbeat. You can also try tagging as part of the entry as that’s a different kind of viral marketing where people are drawn to the content, rather than the content being sent to them indirectly via a share from a friend.
Seattle Sounders FC fans, the scurvy dogs they are (WHITECAPS FC, you’re the one for ME!) really responded to this post about a free Xbox giveaway:
Use appropriate calls to action
It’s so simple it’s painful: One of the surest ways to get more shares, and increase your chances of going viral, is to ask for it.
- Please RT!
- RT if you agree!
- Share with a friend who this reminds you of!
- Repin if you like this too!
Social media isn’t like a novel. People aren’t going to read your messages and take time to consider them. They’re going to read and react right away. If your message includes a call to action to share they’ll be much more likely to react with a share. Don’t knock the simple steps as they often work the best!
— SourceFed (@sourcefed) September 8, 2015
Feature image via Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock