Definition of Viral Content

Viral content refers to digital material, such as articles, images, or videos, that rapidly gains immense popularity through online sharing across multiple platforms, like social media and websites. This widespread exposure often occurs organically, fueled by people’s desire to share the content with their network. The key to viral content is its ability to elicit strong emotional reactions, making users more likely to engage with and share the content.


The phonetic transcription of the keyword “Viral Content” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:/ˈvaɪrəl ˈkɒntɛnt/

Key Takeaways

  1. Emotional connection: Viral content often triggers strong emotions such as joy, nostalgia, curiosity, or surprise, as it encourages sharing and engagement among audiences.
  2. Relatable and shareable: Such content resonates with its target audience’s experiences, beliefs, and values, making it easily shareable and increasing its reach.
  3. Timely and captivating: Viral content often revolves around current events, trends, or popular culture. It captivates the audience’s attention by leveraging storytelling, visuals, and interactive elements.

Importance of Viral Content

Viral content is crucial in digital marketing because it refers to any online material that gains rapid and widespread popularity, creating significant user engagement, high-traffic potential, and increased brand exposure.

This phenomenon is notably beneficial for businesses and marketers as it can boost brand awareness, generate leads, and accelerate business growth while utilizing lower promotional costs.

By capitalizing on the power of social sharing and the internet’s extensive reach, viral content can spread effortlessly among users, which offers incredible opportunities for businesses to create an immense impact in a relatively short time and frequently with a positive return on investment.


Viral content serves as an incredibly powerful tool in the realm of digital marketing, primarily because it aims to generate substantial interest and engagement among online users in a relatively short period of time. Often driven by factors such as emotional appeal, relevance, innovation, and shareability, the purpose of viral content is to create a scenario where the content spreads like wildfire across various digital platforms.

The more people engage with and share it, the broader its reach becomes. Such content piques the curiosity of consumers and urges them to learn more about the brand or message, helping to boost brand visibility, recognition, and user-generated interactions.

The widespread appeal created by viral content can be harnessed to meet several marketing objectives, including increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales. A well-planned and executed piece of viral content can bolster a brand’s online presence and authority while fostering organic communication about the brand’s message – be it about a product, service, or social cause – among users.

In this sense, the viral content acts as a digital word-of-mouth tool that encourages users to promote and engage with the content, resulting in an exponential increase in reach and impact. Thus, a successful viral campaign positions a brand or idea at the center of online discussions, both capturing attention and inspiring deeper engagement with a wider audience.

Examples of Viral Content

Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign: In 2010, the personal care brand Old Spice launched an advertising campaign featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa, who was often referred to as the “Old Spice Guy” or “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” The advertisements had a humorous tone and quickly gained popularity on the internet. In particular, one video where Mustafa delivers a monologue in a single take went viral on YouTube, racking up millions of views and becoming a cultural phenomenon. The success of this campaign not only helped revitalize the Old Spice brand but also demonstrated the power of viral content in digital marketing.

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches”: In 2013, Dove released a video campaign called “Real Beauty Sketches,” which aimed to explore women’s perception of their own beauty compared to how others see them. The video featured a professional sketch artist who drew portraits of several women based on their own self-descriptions and then based on the descriptions provided by strangers. The results showcased the significant differences between the two sets of drawings and highlighted the idea that women often underestimate their real beauty. The video went viral on social media, receiving over 50 million views in the first week and sparking numerous conversations about beauty standards and self-esteem. This viral content allowed Dove to connect with its target audience and solidify its position as a brand championing women’s confidence and self-love.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became a viral sensation, raising awareness and funding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. The challenge involved people pouring a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads and then nominating friends and family to do the same within 24 hours or make a donation to an ALS charity. Videos of the challenge quickly spread across social media platforms, with millions of people, including celebrities and politicians, participating in the campaign. Ultimately, the viral nature of this content helped generate over $115 million in donations for the ALS Association in the United States and inspired similar fundraising efforts globally. While not initially a digital marketing campaign, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge demonstrated the power of viral content in engaging an audience, spreading awareness, and driving action.


FAQ: Viral Content

What is viral content?

Viral content refers to digital media, such as articles, images, videos, or social media posts, that quickly gains widespread attention and popularity on the internet. Such content typically appeals to people’s emotions and interests, encouraging them to share it with others through various online platforms.

What factors contribute to content going viral?

Several factors influence the virality of content. These include compelling and relatable storytelling, strong emotional appeal, eye-catching visual elements, a sense of urgency, social shareability, and current trends or popular culture references. Timing and effective promotion on social media can also impact the chances of a content piece going viral.

How can I create viral content for my brand?

To create viral content for your brand, focus on crafting a memorable message that resonates with your target audience. Identify the key emotional triggers, use attention-grabbing headlines and visuals, and keep the content easily digestible. Additionally, make sure it is easy to share on social media, optimize it for search engines, and leverage trends, challenges, and user-generated content. Finally, collaborate with influencers and publish the content at the right time to maximize its virality potential.

Is going viral always a good thing?

While going viral can significantly increase brand awareness, website traffic, and engagement, it’s not always a positive experience. Some content goes viral for the wrong reasons, drawing negative attention and damaging a brand’s reputation. It’s essential to create content that aligns with your brand values, message, and target audience, and be prepared for any possible backlash or unintended consequences when developing a viral content strategy.

How can I measure the success of my viral content?

You can measure the success of viral content using various metrics, including total reach, number of views, shares, likes, comments, and mentions on social media platforms. Additionally, pay attention to the growth in your website traffic, new followers, and engagements on your other content pieces. Analyzing these metrics can provide valuable insights into what type of content performs best, allowing you to refine your content strategy and better connect with your audience.


Related Digital Marketing Terms

  • Shareability
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Content Amplification
  • Organic Reach
  • Online Buzz

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