At some point or another, most eCommerce merchants have wondered how to make a product go viral.

So-called “viral marketing” can have dramatic effects on businesses, no matter how big or small.

All it takes is for one TikTok or Tweet to go viral, and the floodgates open. Relative obscurity becomes Internet fame rather quick.

The question is, how exactly do you capitalize on this?

You could say that making products go viral is the same thing as catching lightning in a bottle. the general consensus is that it is not something that can be manufactured, it is pure chance.

That’s not entirely true.

Here I will provide some insight into the concept of viral marketing and how businesses can attempt to incorporate some of these techniques into their own marketing efforts in order to attract customers and spur growth.

The Heart of Viral Marketing: Relatability

Whenever someone asks me what is the secret to going viral online, my go to response is, the content has to be relatable.

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or trying to promote. If the target audience can’t deeply relate, at least on some level, to the content they are viewing, they are unlikely to share it.

This is where many businesses falter, right out of the gate.

The traditional idea of marketing on social media (or anywhere for that matter) is somewhat one-sided. You create content that contains a message that you want to communicate to prospective customers.

Think of old school TV commercials, billboards, posters, flyers, etc.

Unless there is something meme-worthy in this kind of content, the chance of it going viral is slim.

This is because most of these traditional marketing efforts aren’t designed to be shared, they are designed to be consumed.

While many brands try and make their products relatable, they do a poor job of communicating that relatability in a way that is fresh, fun, realistic, and entertaining.

The key to viral marketing is combining use case with emotion in a way that people resonate with. Add on a layer of entertainment and comedy and you have the makings of a viral recipe.

They Don’t Care About the Product

Brand loyalty is still a thing, but generally speaking, shoppers are rather agnostic when it comes to what they share online.

If it’s entertaining and they resonate with it, they will share it. Bonus points if it’s funny.

When promoting your brand or product, forget about your brand and product. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think about creating content that they can genuinely connect with.

Your product might be very useful, but some things just aren’t very entertaining or fun when taken at face value.

It’s the difference between selling a car and selling a lifestyle.

You will see many car brands dispense with selling the actual car altogether and prefer to focus on content that is relatable to their target market, even if this content doesn’t actually pertain to the day to day life of the audience.

What percent of Ford F250 owners are driving through mud pits and careening up rugged mountaintops? Likely less than 1%.

However, the percent of Ford owners that resonate with that kind of content and think it’s fun, engaging, and cool is probably quite high.

Doesn’t matter if it’s unrealistic.

Viral videos and memes may only contain a hint of realism yet they can drive thousands of visitors to your website and strengthen your brand.

It’s not always necessary to show your product in a realistic light, it’s more valuable to “sell a mood” and find a way to sneak your product or brand in as an afterthought.

Customers are smart. If they find a brand they resonate with, they will buy from it.

The less you focus on “selling a product” and more on creating content that will produce an emotion, the better.

What Platforms Work Best For Viral Content?

If you really want your product to go viral, you have to be where the memes are being made.

Right now, that’s mostly TikTok and Twitter.

These platforms are not the most eCommerce-centric platforms. However, if your concern is brand-building, they can work wonders if you know how to leverage them.

Twitter is difficult because you need to first cultivate a large following there in order to create viral content in most cases, so let’s focus on TikTok.

The reason why TikTok is great for creating viral content right now is because the platform was built on relatability.

Back when TikTok was known as, the entire platform centered around creating little short-form videos that were meant to be “copied” and shared. So really the foundation of the platform is built for viral content.

Now it is home to the most relatable content on the web. Users share intimate emotions, moods, jokes, life bloopers, product reviews, and just about anything else imaginable.

It also has the most favorable organic algorithm of any popular social media platform right now.

This makes it easy to get your content noticed even if you don’t have a large following.

Tips For Creating Viral Content

Here are a few things to note when creating content that you would hope to go viral:

  • Take advantage of TikTok trends (video formats and sounds). Even if the trends in question have absolutely nothing to do with your niche, the user engagement on these trending elements will get you noticed.
  • Add something unique. Users digest a lot of content everyday, try and put your own spin on a popular meme or trend.
  • Put your heart into it. If you’re going to create content in order to make a product go viral, the content has to be relatable. If the content isn’t relatable, you can forget about it going viral.
  • Production quality doesn’t matter. Film it with your iPhone 8.
  • Comedy is the most effective viral medium.
  • All it takes is one piece of content.

One final tip: don’t rely on viral marketing as a dedicated strategy. This is something that tends to naturally happen when all of your marketing is firing on all cylinders or you have perfectly captured what your target market is looking for and can create content freely that really resonates with them.

In other words, you might want to first focus on really homing in on who your target demographic is and then using this information to steer your marketing in that direction.

Want to know more about how to improve your visibility through digital marketing? Check out our eCommerce University page, where you will find a wealth of content that will help you stay ahead of the curve in eCommerce.