Viral marketing: the popular marketing technique

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash.

Who doesn’t want it these days? To go completely viral with your content! Is achieving a large reach in a short time an advantage for you? Then viral marketing is a marketing technique you should definitely consider! Today I’m going to tell you what viral marketing is and what it’s good for, besides that I’ll explain the opportunities and challenges and I’ll give a few examples so you can shake the inspiration out of you!

What is viral marketing and why should you choose viral marketing?

Viral marketing is one of the recent marketing techniques that was discovered in the late 1990s and became increasingly popular with the advent of social media. It is a technique that stems from one of the most traditional techniques, namely word of mouth, or in other words, the word of mouth theory. Viral marketing aims to spread a viral epidemic through marketing statements on social networks.

Think of the current Corona epidemic: the virus is transmitted from person to person. As a result, people communicate with each other about the advertisement and the snowball effect follows: the event reinforces itself among people. Often the goal is to increase brand awareness or reach with this. It is also possible to develop positive associations with the brand.

Viral marketing is a technique that you can best use if you want to reach a large target group in a quick way at relatively low cost. The Internet is your best friend in reaching any target audience, because recipients share the message with their network in an easy way.

In addition, there is little cost (provided it is done well). It costs you no money to spread the message, only the campaign itself will cost you money. Finally, viral marketing can be used to increase effectiveness and credibility: if more and more people share something of yours, it will come across as more credible than if you spread the message yourself.

Fun fact! Did you know that the videos that go viral often contain an emotional trigger? It doesn’t have to have an emotional impact, but research has shown that viewers feel something overwhelming when watching and sharing a video that goes viral, this can be either humorous or shocking.

Pros and cons of viral marketing


  • There is a big cost advantage over traditional media
  • The distribution is extremely fast and efficient, reaching many people in a short time. With traditional media this can take a long time.
  • It is a good way to target specific audiences (especially young people), this is often more difficult with traditional media.
  • It makes use of existing social groups that are in one way or another already interested in the phenomenon.


  • Viral marketing is constantly evolving which means you have to rethink what works and what doesn’t each time. There are certain requirements that make designing campaigns more difficult
  • It is not always clear when it comes to viral marketing. The success of the campaign may end early or even not occur at all.
  • Once the campaign is launched, you as a company have no control over your campaign expression. Should the expression go wrong, it is impossible to take it off the internet completely. What happens on the internet, stays on the internet.

Features and tips around viral marketing

Emotional trigger

As mentioned earlier, an emotional impact increases the chances of your expression going viral. It doesn’t matter what emotion, as long as it makes an impact.

Viral marketing plot twist

Most people who see and share a viral expression are surprised by the way it shows up. Unpredictability, or a plot twist, people love the unexpected.

Too good to keep secret

Researchers found that something went viral when feeling shareable. Even if your expression is based on promotion, people who have an emotional impact with a plot twist more readily share things with those around them (especially on social media) to share their experiences with others.

Personal element

Brands need to make people feel personal and likeable through expressions. The more likable a brand or company becomes, the more likely the expression will be shared.

Examples of viral marketing

There are several examples of marketing statements that have gone viral. To give you an idea of which ones have gone viral, I have a video for you here:




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