Viral marketing – can it be planned?

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The term ‘viral’ usually refers to situations in which content posted on the Internet engages users to such an extent that they widely share it with others. When we hear ‘viral’, we most often imagine videos or memes circulating among recipients for some time. And indeed, viral advertising does not exist without the Internet, because only the Internet provides such a large scale and pace of information transfer.

Can such campaigns be planned? What are the features of effective viral marketing and what benefits can it bring to your company?

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing, also often called viral marketing, is a relatively new marketing technique that involves initiating a chain reaction around a product or content. This method is used to increase brand or product awareness by attracting curiosity and then maximizing user engagement.

Engaged and often amused users pass on interesting, intriguing and, above all, emotive content on their own and without any encouragement. Advertising often achieves enormous reach and spreads almost like a virus. Just like a virus, it spreads from one user to another and is constantly passed on. Rapid spread is possible thanks to the environment in which advertising operates – the Internet.

Features of a viral campaign

These features can be easily guessed based on the definition of viral marketing presented above.

Content that is to become an element of an effective viral campaign must, above all, be original, brilliant, evoking emotions and memorable.

The Internet is a space where we look primarily for visual experiences, so it is the skillful use of appropriate visual content that will most effectively attract users’ attention. Although statistically most often the content shared in viral campaigns is humorous and ambiguous, thus entertaining users, this is not the rule.

An effective viral campaign may as well be based on controversial or touching content. It is important that it evokes emotions in viewers strong enough to make them want to pass on the material or content.

We already know what the content that engaged users will share with each other should be. But how will they do it? Most often – using social media and instant messengers.

Examples of viral campaigns: What has the potential to become viral?

First of all, content that attracts, arouses emotions, interests and makes the user want to share it with someone else, preferably with the widest possible audience. The content that users will share does not have to be a video.

It can be a catchy slogan or graphics that reach the hearts and minds of recipients. The most desirable effect of viral marketing is to reach the largest possible group of readers who may be interested in the brand or product in the future.

Intriguing content accompanied by a brand or logo is often stylized as amateur, created spontaneously under the influence of some event. And sometimes this is indeed the case, but nowadays we are increasingly dealing with well-thought-out viral marketing, which is the result of very diligent work.


A “spontaneous” photo from the Oscars ceremony, featuring the biggest stars of world cinema. A seemingly innocent selfie that you couldn’t miss while surfing the web turned out to be a clever advertisement for the new Samsung.

Another example of viral marketing is Allegro’s Christmas ad from three years ago. 18 million views is a reach that is truly impressive. The advert was about a Polish man ordering an ‘English for Beginners’ language kit from Allegro, then practicing with it as he goes about his life.

It is also impossible not to mention the promotional video of Papillo (Kanu Nwankwo) for Peak Milk, ‘Mama Do Good’ advert of Indomie, and Sky (My friend Udeme) of Guinness, which all went on to become a perfect example of viral marketing in Nigeria.

Why is it worth choosing viral marketing?

A well-thought-out and properly prepared viral campaign has virtually unlimited reach. It may happen that thousands of users are talking about it just a few hours after the content is shared. This is an excellent opportunity to reach completely new groups of recipients. What other benefits come from viral marketing?

  • Low distribution costs – this is due to the mentioned reach – users themselves share your content, and it doesn’t cost you anything. The only cost is the creation of advertising material.
  • Positive associations with the brand – advertising that stays in the user’s mind and makes him want to share it with others is the best advertising. A huge advantage of viral advertising is the lack of intrusiveness – it is the user who decides to share the content, which also helps build a positive brand image.

It is worth remembering that if a viral advertisement is not well received by the recipients, the damage may be significant – it is almost impossible to remove it from the Internet. Therefore, every viral campaign should be well thought out.

How to make a campaign go viral

In fact, no marketer will undertake the mission of carefully planning a viral campaign with certainty of success. Too much responsibility here lies with the users – they largely determine the success or failure of the campaign.

Viral marketing cannot be precisely planned and no professional agency can promise that the material it creates will definitely go viral. The potential of advertising content can be estimated, but user reactions cannot be precisely predicted.

However, it is important not to lose control over your own content, as this may result in a deterioration of your image in the eyes of your audience.

Is viral marketing effective?

If done skillfully, yes, it can be very effective. Although viral content often resembles amateur content, it is worth recording good material and spending some time on editing it. target audience are increasingly demanding when it comes to the quality of graphic and video materials. The effectiveness of a viral video depends on how strong the emotions the created material evokes in them.


  • The term viral marketing usually refers to situations in which content posted on the Internet engages users to such an extent that they widely share it with others.
  • This technique is used to increase awareness of a brand or product by attracting interest and then maximizing audience engagement.
  • Content that is to become part of an effective viral campaign must be original, brilliant, evoking emotions and memorable.
  • Viral is an opportunity to reach completely new groups of recipients, and the cost of its distribution is usually low.

If done skillfully, viral marketing can be very effective.

Lordson Okpetu

I'm many things rolled into one; I'm an ex-journalist, a content strategist, digital marketer and 'rockstar' direct response copywriter. I've written tons of copies to sell thousands of products and services across diverse industries in Nigeria. In my occasional spare time, I play chess or spend time with my family. I am the Chief Operating Officer of Content Writer, Nigeria.

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