There are two words that set the heart of every marketer racing: Going Viral.  When a piece of content becomes a must-see  for tens of thousands or even millions of people.

Let’s be honest, it is a rare occurrence for most brands but there are some common factors that make it more likely.  Most of the time viral content is video.

So, what’s the secret for making a video go viral?

If there was a magic recipe it would look something like this:

  • 1 part perfect timing
  • 1 part quality content
  • 1 part out-of-the-box creativity
  • 20 parts sheer luck / X-factor

Even perfectly timed, quality creative content may not ever go viral and for no apparent reason. On the flip side, those that do take the internet by storm often don’t have a clearly defining factor that made them successful – they just have that allusive X-Factor.

A great example is of the guy on TikTok skateboarding along to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams while drinking Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice after his old car broke down on the way to work at the potato factory.

This clip just happened to be what a lot of people needed and wanted to see at that exact moment mid-pandemic, quickly racking up millions of views.

For its creator @420doggface208, it led to overnight fame and sponsorship deals including a new car packed with cranberry juice drinks from Ocean Spray, while the 1970’s song Dreams enjoyed a re-surge in popularity amongst a new generation.

Of course, expensive advertising campaigns that have been carefully crafted and released achieve mass popularity and sharing can sometimes also be a viral success – earlier this year the QANTAS ad was a great example of this.  It captured, in an easily shared and relatable video, the emotions that many people were feeling at the time – and did it well, achieving a million online views within its first week, with the QANTAS brand front and centre.

One thing that DOES make content sharable, as these examples clearly show, is understanding and connecting with how audiences are feeling.  Tapping into this and meeting an emotional need (whether it be playing on heart strings or offering some well-timed comic relief) is key to great content.

The most sensible thing to do however is NOT to put all your eggs in one basket and hang marketing success on viral content. If it happens and you get great brand exposure from it, great… it could happen and the fame could last more than 15 minutes… but realistically, the long road involving a sustainable and strategic program of targeted marketing content and activity is the most effective way to go.

After all, keep in mind that even a video seen by more than a million people is not going to necessarily guarantee sales or new customers.