Definition of Virality

Virality refers to the rapid spread of content or information across digital platforms, primarily through social media sharing, email, and other online channels. It usually occurs when a piece of content, such as a video, image, or article, resonates with an audience and triggers extensive engagement. The goal of virality is to reach a large audience in a short period, amplifying brand awareness, conversions, or social impact.


The phonetic transcription of the keyword “Virality” is: /vɪˈrælɪti/

Key Takeaways

  1. Virality relies on creating shareable content that resonates with audiences, sparking conversations and engagements.
  2. Emotions, storytelling, and relatability play a key role in driving virality, making users more likely to share the content with their network.
  3. Understanding and leveraging social media platforms and algorithms is important for optimizing content reach and increasing the chances of virality.

Importance of Virality

Virality is an important concept in digital marketing as it refers to the rapid spread and widespread sharing of content, such as videos, articles, or images, across multiple online platforms by users.

This phenomenon can result in increased brand exposure, customer engagement, and potential sales leads at relatively low cost due to the organic, user-driven nature of the content circulation.

Virality often leverages the power of social media networks, where users voluntarily share content within their own circles, thereby generating word-of-mouth marketing and driving greater reach without the need for traditional advertising.

Effectively harnessing the potential of virality can fuel a brand’s growth, build brand loyalty, and significantly enhance digital marketing outcomes.


Virality plays a crucial role in the realm of digital marketing by acting as a catalyst to disseminate a brand’s content, product or message across diverse digital platforms rapidly. The purpose of virality is to capitalize on the amplification effect brought by online communities and social networks, which aids in efficiently multiplying outreach and visibility far beyond the capabilities of traditional marketing efforts.

By reaching masses, virality can lead to significant increases in brand awareness, customer engagement, and ultimately, sales performance. This unprecedented exposure allows organizations to circumvent the financial burden and limited scope of conventional advertising, fostering a cost-effective and expansive marketing strategy in today’s fiercely competitive digital marketplace.

To leverage virality, digital marketers employ a variety of tactics and creative approaches to evoke strong emotions, relatability, or a sense of urgency in the target audience. This often includes crafting shareable content and experiences that resonate with consumers, making them more likely to share or promote them within their digital ecosystem.

Online challenges, engaging visuals, compelling storytelling, and meme culture are a few popular techniques used to induce viral behavior and deepen the connection between the brand and its audience. By incorporating virality into their marketing strategy, companies can essentially turn their audience into brand advocates, enhancing credibility and fostering organic growth, while reaping the benefits of increased exposure, customer acquisition, and sustained business success.

Examples of Virality

The Ice Bucket Challenge (2014) – This viral campaign aimed at raising awareness and funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). People filmed themselves dumping a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads and challenging others to do the same within 24 hours or donate to the ALS Association. The campaign went viral globally and attracted numerous celebrities, ultimately raising more than $115 million in the United States alone.

Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” Campaign (2010) – Old Spice launched a digital marketing campaign featuring former NFL player, Isaiah Mustafa, as the face of the brand. The humorous and engaging ad depicted Mustafa as the ideal man, using Old Spice products, and encouraged viewers to share the video with their friends. The campaign went viral, resulting in a significant increase in Old Spice sales and millions of views on YouTube.

Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” (2013) – In an effort to challenge conventional beauty standards, Dove created a series of online videos depicting an FBI-trained sketch artist drawing women as they described themselves, and then as someone else described them. The resulting sketches showcased the differences in perception and the impact of low self-esteem on women’s self-images. The campaign went viral, amassing tens of millions of views on YouTube, generating widespread conversation on social media, and sparking various parodies.

FAQ – Virality

What is virality?

Virality refers to the phenomenon of a piece of content, such as an image, video, or article, gaining rapid and widespread popularity through online sharing, primarily via social media platforms and other sharing websites.

How does content become viral?

Content becomes viral when it is engaging, relatable, or has a strong emotional impact on a large number of people. These factors encourage users to share the content further, leading to a chain reaction where the content spreads exponentially throughout the internet. Timeliness, shareability, and a strong appeal to a particular target audience also play crucial roles in determining the virality of content.

Why is virality important for businesses and marketers?

Virality is important for businesses and marketers because it can lead to increased brand awareness, customer engagement, and potential sales. When a piece of content goes viral, it can reach a large number of people in a relatively short period, creating valuable exposure and potentially attracting new customers. This can be especially beneficial for businesses with limited marketing budgets, as viral content can generate publicity at little to no cost.

What are some strategies to create viral content?

Some strategies to create viral content include:

1. Focus on emotional appeal: Create content that evokes strong emotions, as people are more likely to share content that makes them feel a certain way.
2. Make your content shareable: Ensure that your content is easy to share on social media platforms, and encourage your audience to share it.
3. Target a specific audience: Identify your target audience and create content that appeals to them specifically.
4. Timing is essential: Capitalize on current trends, events, or popular culture.
5. Collaborate with influencers: Work with popular influencers to help disseminate your content and reach a wider audience.
6. Test and analyze: Analyze the performance of your content and iterate on it based on feedback and data.

What are the potential risks of virality?

While virality can bring about significant benefits, it can also come with risks, such as:

1. Loss of control: Once content is released, there is little control over how people perceive or modify it, potentially leading to negative sentiment or backlash.
2. Short-lived engagement: Viral content tends to lose momentum quickly, which can lead to a sudden drop in engagement and interest.
3. Overemphasis on virality: Prioritizing virality over the quality or value of products/services may lead to a negative long-term impact on your brand reputation.

Related Digital Marketing Terms

  • Word-of-Mouth
  • Shareability
  • Content Engagement
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Social Network Algorithms

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