Viral Marketing

Updated on March 19, 2024
Article byKosha Mehta
Edited byKosha Mehta
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Viral Marketing?

Viral marketing is a form of digital marketing sales strategy where information about a good or service spreads naturally by social media or through word of mouth at an accelerating rate to gain potential clients. Numerous approaches may be used for viral marketing, including viral E-mail campaigns, viral movies, viral websites, and even viral applications for mobile devices.

Viral Marketing

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Viral marketing uses fast-moving communications that pass from one individual to another to increase interest in a company or product and, subsequently, potential sales. Therefore, a piece of content with a high possibility of being shared and presented by social media users with a high networking potential should be the target of any viral marketing campaign.

Key Takeaways

  • Viral Marketing is promoting a good or service through pre-existing social networks adopted by businesses.
  • It refers to a sales strategy in which information about a product or service is disseminated continuously through unpaid, organic channels, such as word-of-mouth or social networking sites.
  • When anything becomes viral, spreading a message to many people becomes simple and inexpensive.
  • Using viral marketing can broaden a company’s audience and, eventually, its clientele and sales revenue.

Viral Marketing Explained

Viral marketing term derives its name from the fact that material is disseminated from individual to individual in a manner analogous to how a virus moves through a population.

A company may have to pay upfront costs to create and produce content for viral marketing. Viral marketing campaigns use social channels to distribute content rather than a paid distribution model. This is one of the characteristics that sets viral marketing apart from other types of marketing campaigns.

It is possible for a piece of material to “go viral” when a well-known social media personality or celebrity shares it. This can result in hundreds or millions of views, shares, and other sorts of engagement with the content. The more quickly and frequently a piece of material is shared, the greater the likelihood it will go viral and garner notice on a national or international scale.

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Following are the common elements found in viral campaigns:

#1 – Keep Up With The Times

A viral marketing campaign can ride a wave of popularity. When publishing content that touches on a topic that is currently popular, many companies observe a spike in the number of people following their brand. However, because virality only lasts for as long as consumers continue to pay attention to a trend, this is an activity that must be maintained continuously.

#2 – Power Of The Emotional Touch

Including a component that appeals to people’s feelings is one of the most successful strategies for making material go viral. This is because people are far more likely to be touched by a cause close to their heart, and if one can tap into the sentiments, the material will immediately get noticed by a huge portion of the viewers, and they will be more likely to share it with their networks.

#3 – Take Advantage Of The Influencers

Including influential people in the campaign may lift it since they can expose a brand to their already devoted audience. In marketing efforts, many companies use influential people to get their message out to audiences that would be extremely challenging to get in any other way. In addition, these influencers may frequently jumpstart the production of buzz and lend a hand in making the campaign go viral by accelerating the process of sharing it with others.

#4 – Connect With The Audience 

Nothing ever becomes viral; one must actively encourage an audience to spread the word about what they share. When a firm has a wonderful piece of content that resonates with the audience, whether written, a video, or an infographic, one needs to get it in front of that audience as soon as possible. Even if one has the most excellent material in the world, no one can connect with the message or spread it if they have no idea it exists.


#1 – Feeling-Based

It is described as emotional when information on social media elicits a strong emotional response. Therefore, it might be challenging to steer clear of such content because of the high emotional response.

People are more inclined to share material that lifts their mood since cheerfulness tends to rub off on others. Individuals’ attitude is influenced in a way that allows them to obtain greater value from high-quality marketing. It occurs when they feel negative emotions such as anger, grief, or guilt.

#2 – Incentivized

Programs that reward existing customers for bringing in new ones are one business strategy companies employ to expand their customer base. For example, when a firm client recommends another person, the client receives a bonus for the referral.

#3 – Engineered

The creation of viral material is no longer a chance event; rather, it is now a well-planned and executed strategy. Although not all viral material results from random occurrences, most of it is not. It is now built on purpose to be successful.

#4 – Lucky

Viral marketing isn’t always contingent on chance. There are instances when the market develops due to a response to an unexpected opportunity. It results in creating new clients for everyone engaged in the process.

#5 – Pass-Along

The most prevalent type of viral marketing is simply passing along messages in a chain. The process includes one user sending the message to another, and the chain continues. This strategy has shown to be quite beneficial for religious communities in their efforts to convert adherents.

#6 – Buzz Viral Marketing

In buzz marketing, a message is sent in such a manner that it quickly becomes a topic of discussion and spreads. Messages or advertisements that cause controversy can create a stir and draw attention.


Article by financial express states the art of creating viral campaigns. Originality and engagement are required for a social media campaign to go viral. Originality refers to anything one of a kind, while engagement refers to something that makes people feel something.

Through user-generated content, customers are given an extraordinary chance to participate in developing a brand. Because people eventually trust one another, it is crucial to consider user-generated content equivalent to word-of-mouth communication.

It states that most well-informed businesses and campaigns have been successful in going viral because their creators have made it a point to solicit user-generated content from the start. The ability to be seen by as many prospective clients as possible is essential to achieving virality.

The target audience has to notice the campaign on their news app when they get up in the morning. They see a PR piece of the brand, see an influencer on social media talk about it, receive direct messages from friends urging that they see and reshare the ad, and so on.

Advantages And Disadvantages

In the following section, let us see the advantages and disadvantages of viral marketing.


A viral marketing campaign could have several benefits, including the following:

  • It is low priced. The value of viral marketing is significantly underrated, but the expense of content may be even higher. On the other hand, the total cost will be lower in the long run.
  • It is not intrusive. It is up to the recipient to decide whether or not to accept the message; either way, there is no risk of invasion of privacy.
  • A strong influence is witnessed in such campaigns. The cognitive process will be more significantly affected when a person is exposed to content from a familiar source.
  • A more rapid expansion is possible. Social media platforms have been useful in broadening the reach of businesses, which has the added benefit of making the process more practical.


The downsides of running a marketing campaign that spreads virally:

  • It isn’t easy to produce. The current efforts involve many risks and don’t provide very good results. To get the maximum attention from clients, viral marketing needs to be creative.
  • Producing viral markets is uncontrollable. The nature of viral marketing makes them difficult to regulate, which might work to a company’s disadvantage. They are not governed by the firm but rather by the people.
  • They are difficult to quantify. It can be tricky to accurately measure a viral marketing effort’s return on investment (ROI).
  • It does not repeat itself. It is possible to run promotional programs more than once as long as they differ. However, viral marketing cannot be replicated.
  • It is possible to remix or continue with it, but if it is repetitious, the audience will not accept it, and it will not be successful.

Buzz Marketing vs Viral Marketing

  • Messages spread gradually to more and more individuals through viral marketing, gradually building up momentum. On the other side, buzz marketing involves broadcasting messages simultaneously to a very large number of people.
  • Buzz marketing campaigns often take place in the days leading up to an event that has the potential to reach millions of people all at once. In contrast to viral marketing, which almost entirely depends on social media.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)

Why are giveaways effective in viral marketing?

In viral marketing, giveaways and contests are extremely helpful tools to create leads, engage consumers, and broaden one’s audience reach simultaneously. The proliferation of such giveaway viral messaging in memes, shares, likes, and forwards is very quick.

What are the principles of viral marketing?

Offers for seamless transfer to others; Leverages established communications systems; Exploits of another resource base; Donates items or services; Scales quickly from small to extraordinarily large; Utilises common motives.

Who invented viral marketing?

Steve Jurvetson is credited with being the first person to use the phrase “viral marketing,” which may be described as “any marketing action that accelerates and magnifies word-of-mouth referrals in the online world.” The concept was first used in 1997.

This article has been a guide to what is Viral Marketing. We explain its example, advantages, disadvantages, types, elements, and comparison with buzz marketing. You may also find some useful articles here –

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