What can we learn from viral content

We take a look at the main reasons content goes viral.

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These past few months it’s been hard to escape the attention of the MND ice bucket challenge on social media and news feeds. Celebrities, politicians and companies alike took on the challenge and raised millions in the process for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and its US equivalent. But how? And why? We take a look at the main reasons digital content goes viral and how you can utilise this for your own corporate communications.

Positive messages

Not all viral content has a positive message, but the majority of the most successful ones do. The MND ice bucket challenge aim was to raise money for charity, while the Dove Real Beauty campaign is focused on causing a discussion about a wider definition of beauty. Something that promotes a positive message is more likely to get a positive response.


A good example of this would be the Baby and Me adverts by Evian. A dancing baby on rollerblades is not your everyday occurrence, creating a surprising and well-received advert. A brand who seamlessly expands their content offering with surprising offbeat videos can have positive results - as long as they are relevant to your company.


The Harlem Shake of 2013, I’m sure some of us still hear the music haunting our dreams. Like the ice bucket campaign, the Harlem Shake spread through institutions, businesses and social feeds alike with offbeat dance moves and a culture of one-upmanship. The extravagant outfits and comedic sketches reached far and wide, however, although successful it was not without controversy.

Practical advice

Not all viral content has to be video. Infographics that offer practical advice to your audience are an extremely useful tool. ‘How to guides’ that are broken down into digestible bits of content that are easily shareable through sites like Pinterest, can still be shared months after launch.

Reading your audience

Creating content just with the aim of going viral is never going to end well. The most important thing you can do is create rich content with the aim to help your audience, be it solving a problem, offering advice or making their lives easier. Ensure your content is clear and well engineered so people will be talking about your company on your own terms.

Don’t be pushy

Nurture your audience but don’t be pushy - the most viral content grows organically. Rather than pushing your content on people, make sure your content is easy to find. Be it hashtags, social media triggers or a well designed site with clear links to helpful content, make sure that when your audience wants help, your content is there to do just that.