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Viral content: Everyone wants to create it, but few achieve it. It’s a marketing unicorn. For many, a viral post feels like a mythical creature. After all, there’s no formula to creating viral content. And yet, brands and influencers alike invest a lot of time and energy to create magical, shareable posts.

While there’s no guarantee that your content will go viral, you can examine viral content and draw inspiration from it. 

What is viral content?

Before we start breaking down viral content, let’s define it. 

Viral content spreads quickly, just like a virus. It can take many forms, from a picture to a video, and can circulate on many different platforms, from Instagram to TikTok. 

Viral content is usually quirky and authentic; it has an “it” factor. 

How many views does it take for content to be considered viral?

Viral content usually has 5 million views or more, according to the Digital Marketing Institute

Getting to 1 million views is considered “medium viral,” and certainly is an achievement. However, for content to “go viral” it must crash through the 5 million view barrier. 

3 examples of viral content

Let’s look at a few viral campaigns to see what they have in common. 

e.l.f. #eyeslipsface challenge

The cosmetic brand e.l.f. created a viral TikTok campaign, #eyeslipsface. The brand wanted an edgy campaign to attract Gen Z customers, so it created a soundtrack specifically for the campaign with the words “eyes, lips, face” in it and challenged its audience to create TikToks that showcase these features. 

The challenge went viral, with big-name influencers joining the challenge including actress Jessica Alba sharing videos. 

The campaign hashtag, #eyeslipsface, which is actually what the company name e.l.f. stands for, has 9.3 billion views, making it one of the most successful TikTok campaigns to date. 

Dollar Shave Club created a funny video  

Dollar Shave Club, a subscription razor delivery service, created a video that highlighted the product’s benefits. While that might sound a little dry, the company CEO added a dash of humor to wow viewers.

The campaign was created years ago, back in 2012, but it’s still one of the best examples of affordable viral content. The company spent about $4,500 to produce the commercial, but it was so popular that the surge in website traffic crashed the company’s site. Today, it has 27 million views. 

Zoom asks for user-generated content (UGC)

The video conferencing platform Zoom leveraged its surge in users during the pandemic with a user-generated content campaign. The brand ran a monthly contest, asking users to submit unique Zoom backgrounds that could be used during a conference call. 

Zoom collected submissions, handed out prizes, and shared winners, like this T-Rex background, on Twitter.

Tips to create viral content

Have a plan

Like every marketing campaign, you need a plan. What’s the purpose? Who is the target? How will you measure the campaign’s success? 

While it might seem like viral videos are created haphazardly, you can see from the examples above that each campaign was thoughtfully planned. 

Be positive

Viral content evokes emotion, but which emotion is best? Studies show positivity wins over negativity, according to Convince & Convert. A closer look at its research shows audiences respond to positivity that elicits happiness or surprise.

Opt for video 

A picture, blog, or graphic can go viral, but right now, video is the way to go. Video has a better shot at earning the type of engagement you need to go viral. There’s a lot of research to support video campaigns over static campaigns. 

Facebook video ads see twice as many clicks and 20-30% higher conversions than images. 

Meanwhile, TikTok is blowing up. A whopping 2.6 million users have downloaded the app worldwide since 2020.  

Leverage trends 

Keep an eye on social trends. If dance challenges are taking off on TikTok, for example, it might weigh into your campaign decisions. Should you jump on every trend? No. The trend should make sense for your brand. 

Consider buying ads

To up the odds of going viral, consider buying social ads to maximize your campaign’s exposure. Viral campaigns aren’t 100% organic views. You can use other vehicles to drive awareness to your campaign. 

Partner with influencers

In addition to buying ads, collaborate with a few influencers to increase your campaign’s reach. Find an influencer that aligns with your brand and target audience, and plan a campaign together. 

Aren’t sure where to find influencers? Try our influencer marketing platform

Stick with it

Audiences are fickle. The odds of creating viral content on your first attempt are possible but slim. Treat each campaign as a learning opportunity. Review your metrics. How were your views? Who watched it? What can you tweak in the future? 

Creating viral content requires persistence — and maybe a little luck. Keep at it. 

By exploring viral campaigns and drawing on the tips above, you can work toward creating a viral campaign. Just remember to set realistic expectations and practice perseverance.

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