What is Social Media Viral Marketing and is it Still Working in 2020?

What is Social Media Viral Marketing and is it Still Working in 2020?

Millions of people hearing about your brand for free is a dream of every business. Before you rush to your marketing team and demand “One viral content to go, please,” let’s dive into the phenomenon to understand how it works and how to make the success of other brands repeatable and applicable for your social media accounts. Also, together we will find out if it’s still working in 2020. 

What is Social Media Viral Marketing? (In case you’ve been living under a rock.) 

Viral content is a magic video, photo, tweet, etc that instantly becomes popular on social media and is shared by everyone. Social media viral marketing aims to use the same principle to promote a brand. 

The method of promotion relies heavily on people willingly distributing viral-worthy content. Social media users will spread the content like butter on a hot toast across the web on their own. Just sit and relax. 

Unfortunately, viral marketing is not that simple. It can backlash if your content is not well thought out. But if you are lucky enough to go viral for all the right reasons, your brand will be organically seen by millions and gain international recognition. 

Through several real social media viral marketing cases, let’s see what can make a brand go viral.

Related Article: 6 Important Social Media Trends in 2020

The Bright Side of Social Media Viral Marketing Content

Viral exposure on social media not only provides an amazing brand exposure but also can help to multiply your impressions and engagement on social media. Furthermore, it can build a positive image that ultimately will increase the bottom line.

Press coverage is sort of a package deal for viral marketing. Press loves to cover viral content. If you manage to produce something that goes viral publications won’t miss the chance to cover it. As a result, organic exposure will increase all by itself!

One of the recent cases of social media viral marketing comes from Netflix. In a funny tweet, the company asked an entertainingly curious question to its followers.

viral marketing netflix tweet

The tweet spread through Twitter like wildfire. It generated a lot of creative and genuinely funny replies from other famous brands. As a result, the tweet gathered hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets and went down in the history of social media viral marketing as one of the sassiest cases.

What made it even more successful is Netflix’s witty-minded social media team that managed to reply to most of the replies with creative and relevant tweets. As a result, the thread is a treasury of humor-based marketing on Twitter.

viral marketing netflix twitter reply

Just take a look at some of the headlines this tweet generated for Netflix:

Another notable viral marketing case would be DollarShaveClub’s “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” ad. Now this one was a straight-up marketing video advertising their shaving blades, but they did so in a confident, non-traditional, and funny way that was relatable with thousands.

The ad garnered so much attention because it spoke directly to the consumers in a straightforward tone, addressed an issue with their solution, and managed to entertain them at the same time. It went on to set a standard for many startups that tried to imitate this style for their ads.

The Dark Side of Social Media Viral Marketing Content

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies when it comes to viral marketing. Some brands have got it the hard way with going viral. It’s not always that the marketing team can foresee and prevent a campaign from going viral for all the wrong reasons. I’m sure the Peloton marketing team would agree.

The fitness equipment company released an ad for Christmas last year, which at first glance is your average Christmas ad, but ended up offending many women and instantly became infamous. The company ended up pulling off the ad from YouTube and apologizing for it.

As if that’s not bad enough, the company’s stocks dropped significantly after the marketing disaster. And as every viral social media content, it also managed to generate quite the headlines. Take a look at some of the headlines below: 

Elements of a Viral Content

The few of the social media viral marketing cases described above probably gave you some hints about viral content’s elements. 

Take the Netflix case for example. The tweet has several elements at once. It not only stood out with a unique brand voice but also utilized Twitter for what it is – a place where people like to ask ridiculous questions. The content wouldn’t go viral the same way on Facebook.

All the past examples of social media viral marketing cases show a pattern of key elements for viral social media content. Cyberclick’s article does a great job of describing those key elements. We’ll briefly go over each element to give you an understanding:

1. Trendjacking: A lot of brands were able to add their penny to something viral and get a moment of fame for themselves. A notable example is MoonPie’s response to the Art Basel Banana, a rather unconventional piece of art in which a banana was taped to a wall that sold for $120,000. 

viral marketing moonpie tweet

2. Unique Brand Voice: The MoonPie example has this element as well. This brand’s input would be lost in the sea of memes about the art sale if it wasn’t for its unique brand voice. The same goes for Netflix’s playful tweet discussed above. 

3. Utilizing the Social Landscape: Different platforms, different audiences, different ways of interacting with content. Take the social media platform and its audience into account when developing your viral social media content.

4. Correct Use of Influencers: Having a popular influencer in your campaign may help your content to go viral. Just don’t do it as Pepsi did with their Kendall Jenner ad back in 2017. Their 2018 Cindy Crawford ad is a better example of a successful celebrity endorsement campaign. 

5. Hashtags: The use of correct hashtags or coming up with your own hashtag can help to spread your message or invite people to engage with your content.

Related Article: How to Build a Social Media Marketing Strategy

Is Social Media Viral Marketing Still Relevant in 2020?

The last decade proved that people are tired of the fake corporate approach to consumers. The success of campaigns like DollarShaveClub’s “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” showed the demand for honest and straightforward brand voices. Many other similar campaigns followed throughout the decade which proved to be successful on the internet. 

Examples from Netflix and Moonpie prove that viral marketing is still relevant. The Peloton ad, on the other hand, shows that brands are on thin ice and the slightest carelessness in a campaign may break it and leave the brand in cold waters.

Viral marketing is always unpredictable and the general cliche rule of marketing of being authentic is especially applicable. The cases above show how to successfully make your own take on brand authenticity in the era where people expect transparency and straightforwardness from brands they use.