Viral Marketing: Strategies and Examples

Simply put, viral marketing is a marketing approach that leverages social media and various online platforms to create engaging content that spreads like wildfire through word-of-mouth or sharing. In this article, I’ll be sharing some effective strategies and real-world examples of how businesses have successfully utilised viral marketing to their advantage. So, let’s dive in!

Create Shareable Content

In the realm of digital marketing, viral marketing has emerged as a powerful technique for promoting brands and products. The essence of this marketing approach lies in creating content that people feel compelled to share with their friends and followers. This compulsion to share thereby amplifies reach and impact of the content. Whether it’s a hilarious video or a thought-provoking infographic, the content must strike a chord with the audience and elicit an emotional response. This means that it should be tailored to the specific interests and preferences of the target demographic, while also aligning with the brand’s values and messaging. By crafting compelling and shareable content, businesses can tap into the immense potential of viral marketing to boost their visibility and customer base.

A noteworthy example of viral marketing that perfectly illustrates these principles is Dollar Shave Club’s now-famous video, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great.” With its irreverent humour and bold language, the video instantly resonated with viewers who were tired of overpriced and overhyped shaving products. By showcasing the value and convenience of its subscription-based service, Dollar Shave Club effectively appealed to a broad audience while also establishing a distinct brand voice and identity. The viral success of this video helped to catapult the company into the mainstream and cement its position as a disruptive force in the grooming industry. Overall, the Dollar Shave Club case study demonstrates the immense power of viral marketing when executed with precision and creativity.

Leverage Social Media

In today’s digital landscape, social media has emerged as an essential tool for marketing and communication. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer businesses an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to their target audience and connect with them on a personal level. Viral marketing, which involves creating and sharing content that spreads rapidly through word-of-mouth or sharing, is a natural fit for social media. However, it’s important to keep in mind that each platform has its own unique features and user demographics, and your content should be optimised accordingly. For instance, Twitter is ideal for short and snappy updates that spark conversation, while Instagram favours visually appealing content that tells a story.

One of the best examples of a brand that has harnessed the power of social media to create viral content is Wendy’s, the fast-food chain famous for its mouth-watering burgers and frosty treats. Wendy’s Twitter account, in particular, has gained a cult following for its witty and irreverent responses to customer queries and comments. By injecting humour and personality into its tweets, Wendy’s has managed to cultivate a loyal and engaged fan base that eagerly awaits its next move. Moreover, by actively encouraging users to engage with its content and share it with their friends and followers, Wendy’s has been able to amplify its reach and generate buzz around its brand. As a result, Wendy’s has become a shining example of how businesses can leverage social media and viral marketing to their advantage.

Use Influencer Marketing

As digital marketing continues to evolve, influencer marketing has emerged as a highly effective technique for promoting brands and products. Influencer marketing involves collaborating with social media influencers, who are individuals with a large following and a strong presence on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. By partnering with influencers who resonate with your target audience and share your brand values, you can tap into their credibility and reach to amplify your message and generate buzz around your brand.

Influencer marketing has many advantages over traditional advertising, as it allows businesses to connect with consumers in a more authentic and organic way. Rather than bombarding consumers with intrusive ads, influencer marketing enables brands to leverage the power of social proof and peer recommendation to drive conversions and loyalty. Moreover, influencer marketing can be a cost-effective alternative to other marketing channels, as it often requires less upfront investment and can yield higher returns in terms of engagement and conversion rates.

A prime example of a successful influencer marketing campaign is Fenty Beauty’s collaboration with Rihanna, the global pop icon and entrepreneur. Rihanna, who is widely regarded as a fashion and beauty icon, played a pivotal role in the launch of Fenty Beauty’s makeup line, which quickly became a sensation among consumers. By leveraging Rihanna’s massive social media following and credibility, Fenty Beauty was able to generate buzz around its products and establish a loyal fan base. Moreover, the partnership with Rihanna helped Fenty Beauty to position itself as a brand that celebrates diversity and inclusivity, a message that resonated deeply with its target audience. Overall, the Fenty Beauty case study demonstrates the immense potential of influencer marketing when executed strategically and authentically.

Offer Incentives

In the highly competitive world of digital marketing, it’s essential to find creative and innovative ways to stand out from the crowd and capture consumers’ attention. One effective strategy that many businesses use is to offer incentives to encourage people to share their content and promote their brand to their followers. Incentives such as discounts, freebies, or exclusive access to products or services can motivate people to engage with your brand and spread the word about your offerings.
To maximise the impact of your incentive-based marketing campaigns, it’s important to ensure that the rewards are relevant and valuable to your target audience. For instance, if you’re targeting young, tech-savvy consumers, offering a free subscription to a popular streaming service or a gadget accessory can be highly effective. On the other hand, if your target audience consists of budget-conscious shoppers, a discount or a special promotion can be more compelling.
One of the best examples of a successful incentive-based marketing campaign is Starbucks’ “Red Cup Contest,” which has become a holiday tradition for millions of coffee lovers around the world. The contest, which was launched in 2015, encourages customers to share photos of their festive Starbucks cups on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #RedCupContest. The best entries are selected by Starbucks’ judges, and the winners receive a range of prizes, including Starbucks gift cards and holiday-themed merchandise.
By leveraging the power of user-generated content and social media, Starbucks was able to generate massive buzz around its holiday campaign and create a sense of community among its customers. Moreover, the contest helped Starbucks to showcase its creativity and innovation, and position itself as a brand that values its customers’ engagement and loyalty. Overall, the “Red Cup Contest” is a shining example of how businesses can use incentives to inspire and reward customer engagement and generate excitement around their brand.

Create Controversy

Businesses are always seeking new and innovative ways to capture consumers’ attention and stand out from the competition. One strategy that some companies have employed with great success is to create controversial content that generates buzz and sparks debate among consumers. However, this approach can be risky, as it can lead to negative backlash and harm a brand’s reputation if not handled properly.
To make the most of a controversial marketing strategy, it’s crucial to ensure that the controversy is relevant to your brand’s values and messaging. It’s also essential to have a solid understanding of your target audience’s preferences, attitudes, and beliefs, so you can gauge how they are likely to respond to controversial content. Additionally, it’s important to be prepared for any potential negative feedback or backlash that may arise, and have a plan in place to address it quickly and effectively.

A prime example of a controversial marketing campaign that generated both positive and negative attention is Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign, which featured former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The ad sparked controversy due to Kaepernick’s controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality. However, the campaign also earned praise from supporters of Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement, and helped to position Nike as a brand that supports social justice and equality.
Despite the initial backlash, Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign ultimately proved to be a success, with the brand reporting a significant increase in sales following its release. This example demonstrates how a controversial marketing strategy can be effective in generating attention and creating buzz, but it’s essential to ensure that the controversy is relevant to your brand and values and to be prepared for any negative feedback or backlash.


Viral marketing can be a powerful strategy for creating buzz and increasing brand awareness. By creating shareable content, leveraging social media, using influencer marketing, offering incentives, and creating controversy, businesses can reach a wider audience and generate engagement with their target audience. However, it’s important to ensure that the content and messaging align with the brand’s values and target audience, and to be prepared for any potential negative backlash.

Branding Experts is a branding and marketing agency based in Brisbane. With years of experience in the industry, their team of experts is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes build and strengthen their brand identity. From developing compelling brand strategies to designing stunning visual identities, Branding Experts help their clients stand out. Whether you’re a startup or an established business, they have the skills and expertise to take your brand to the next level.

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