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Viral Content

Viral Content

Viral content refers to any piece of online material—whether it’s a video, image, article, or meme—that spreads rapidly across the internet, reaching a vast audience in a short amount of time. This phenomenon is akin to a virus spreading contagiously, hence the term “viral.” Such content often garners widespread attention through social media sharing, likes, comments, and reposts, exponentially increasing its visibility.

In essence, viral content is characterized by its ability to capture the attention and interest of a large audience swiftly and organically, often propelled by its entertaining, informative, or emotionally resonant qualities. It can originate from various sources, including individuals, brands, or media outlets, and may encompass a wide range of topics and formats.

TL;DR What is Viral Content?

Viral content refers to online material that spreads rapidly across the internet, reaching a large audience in a short time through social media sharing and engagement.


In the realm of marketing, viral content holds immense significance due to its potential to amplify brand visibility, engagement, and reach at minimal cost. Unlike traditional advertising, which often requires significant financial investment, viral content relies on the power of social sharing and user-generated promotion. This democratization of content distribution allows even smaller brands or individuals to achieve widespread recognition and influence.

Moreover, viral content has the ability to create a profound impact on consumer behavior, shaping perceptions, driving conversations, and influencing purchasing decisions. By leveraging the viral nature of content, marketers can capitalize on trends, spark conversations, and foster authentic connections with their target audience, thereby enhancing brand awareness and loyalty.

Examples/Use Cases

  • The “Ice Bucket Challenge” campaign, which went viral on social media, raised awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research.
  • Dollar Shave Club’s quirky promotional video garnered millions of views and subscribers, propelling the brand to success.
  • The “Gangnam Style” music video by Psy became a global sensation, showcasing the power of viral content in pop culture.
  • Oreo’s timely tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout—”You can still dunk in the dark”—instantly went viral, demonstrating agile marketing.
  • Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video sparked widespread discussion on societal beauty standards and garnered millions of views.


  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Digital Marketing
  • Branding
  • Online Advertising



  • Shareable Content
  • Trending Content
  • Buzzworthy Content



Key Components/Features

  • Shareability: Viral content is easily shareable across various social media platforms, encouraging user engagement and dissemination.
  • Emotional Resonance: Content that evokes strong emotions such as humor, awe, or empathy is more likely to go viral.
  • Timeliness: Capitalizing on current events, trends, or cultural moments can enhance the virality of content.
  • Authenticity: Genuine, authentic content tends to resonate more with audiences and is thus more likely to be shared.
  • Visual Appeal: Compelling visuals, whether in the form of images, videos, or graphics, often contribute to the virality of content.

Related Terms

  • Social Media Engagement
  • Content Amplification
  • Memetic Marketing
  • Trendjacking

Tips/Best Practices

  1. Know Your Audience: Tailor your content to resonate with the interests, preferences, and demographics of your target audience.
  2. Evoke Emotion: Create content that elicits strong emotions, such as joy, surprise, or inspiration, to increase its shareability.
  3. Leverage Trends: Stay abreast of current trends and cultural phenomena to capitalize on timely opportunities for virality.
  4. Optimize for Sharing: Make it easy for users to share your content by incorporating social sharing buttons and compelling calls-to-action.
  5. Monitor and Iterate: Track the performance of your content, analyze audience engagement metrics, and iterate based on insights to optimize future campaigns.

Further Reading/Resources


What makes content go viral?

Content goes viral when it resonates with a broad audience emotionally, intellectually, or culturally. This could be due to its humor, relatability, novelty, or relevance to current events. Additionally, the ease of sharing and amplification through social media play significant roles in driving virality.

Can viral content be planned or predicted?

While viral content may seem unpredictable, marketers can employ strategies to increase the likelihood of virality. This involves understanding audience preferences, leveraging trending topics, and creating content that elicits strong emotional reactions. However, there’s no guaranteed formula for virality, as it often hinges on unpredictable factors such as timing and audience reception.

Is all viral content beneficial for brands?

Not necessarily. While viral content can generate significant exposure and engagement, its impact on brand perception and reputation can vary. Brands must ensure that viral content aligns with their values, messaging, and target audience to avoid potential backlash or misinterpretation. Additionally, the fleeting nature of viral fame may not always translate into long-term brand loyalty or sales.

How can I measure the success of viral content?

The success of viral content can be measured through various metrics, including views, shares, likes, comments, and conversions. Additionally, tracking brand sentiment, website traffic, and engagement patterns can provide insights into the broader impact of viral campaigns. It’s essential to establish clear objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the effectiveness of viral content accurately.

Can any brand create viral content?

While any brand has the potential to create viral content, success often depends on factors such as creativity, authenticity, and audience relevance. Brands that understand their audience’s preferences, embrace creativity, and are willing to take calculated risks are better positioned to create viral-worthy content. However, it’s essential to prioritize authenticity and brand integrity to resonate genuinely with audiences.

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