Everybody wants to go viral. A single piece can be 5000 times more effective than an entire marketing campaign.

Viral content can be humorous, outrageous, tear-jerking or just a complete accident, but the point still remains:

It’s every marketer’s dream to see their piece get into the news. 

There are no real rules to what makes a piece go viral – from an image of an egg to Shia Lebouf’s “Just do it” video, anything has the potential to go viral, nowadays, without a warning.

However, there are some patterns content marketers like to follow to maximise their chances to go viral. Instead of keeping them to ourselves, we decided to tell them to you.

Pensive young attractive girl reading book and sitting on chair isolated on a orange background

10 viral content ideas to expand your reach

#1 – SEO is still crucial

Using the right keywords is perhaps the simplest way to go viral and get millions of visitors.

Due to SEO’s very essence, its predictability allows you to pick golden keywords and get exactly the results you’d expect from a viral piece.

#2 – Powerful copy

While we are still on the topic of articles, let me be clear: a single line can change everything.

Engaging headlines can boost the effectiveness of a piece by up to 1500%.

These are some of the formulas we like to follow:

A. (Desirable outcome) (soon): How to (action) for (target audience) – Eat the perfect bread today: how to make a delicious dough for your guests.

B. 5 things we learnt from (mistake) – 5 things we learned from slow-roasting cookie batter.

C. 10 ways to (a desirable outcome) and (a desirable outcome) – 10 ways to make the most delicious cake and leave your guests craving more.

#3 – Reward people for sharing you

Whatever your content is, it should be easy to share the whole thing or just snippets of it.

However, you can take it a step further and give people something in return, whenever they choose to share you online.

If you sell software, this is particularly true. You can reward your users “points” or even extra features on your platform in exchange for sharing a piece of content on their social media. 

Or, alternatively, you can give them coupons and free stuff. 

Who wouldn’t say no to a 5% discount in exchange for a simple share?

#4 – Use emotions that work well

Every type of content evokes an emotion – and I hope boredom isn’t one of them!

According to Business Insider, some emotions work better than others, especially with article writing.

Based on the graphic below, out of a series of viral content pieces, 25% produced an emotion of “awe”, while 17% produced “laughter”.

It’s a great idea to pick a single emotion and stick with it throughout the whole piece. Interestingly enough, “empathy” and “anger” are tied together in terms of effectiveness. Sometimes making an audience angry is the best way to improve sales.

#5 – Build up momentum

With PPC, you can actually pay to make your content go viral!

The point is simple: once you create a high-quality content marketing strategy, you can pay to place your content in front of customers using social media ads, ad retargeting and banners. 

People look at them like they’d do with any other posts and share them with their friends.

Simply enough, the paid part of this ensures that enough people see that post to begin with.

Furthermore, with PPC, you can even target specific people in your target audience, allowing you to ensure your content is placed right in front of the people you want to present it to.

An example of this is a student that used paid ads to target just his housemate, a sword-swallower who struggled to swallow pills.

This viral piece of content ended up getting him 450k readers in 72 hours.

#6 – Consider current events

Back in 2017, Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ ad won an award for outstanding commercial at the Outstanding Arts Emmy.

The ad featured Colin Kaepernick’s face and a simple message – what made this ad so controversial is the fact that they endorsed Colin, an NFL player fired for kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice.

The ad was so controversial that hundreds of people attacked it, including former US President Donald Trump, who stated “I think it’s a terrible message that shouldn’t be sent”.

And yet, Nike’s ad campaign was an astonishing success in every possible way. It generated 2.7 million mentions on Twitter in just one week.

Despite people going as far as setting fire to their Nike shoes, the company saw a 31% increase in sales as a result of this campaign.

Although politics is often a touchy subject, using them effectively is a very good strategy, although the mere mention of some topics may alienate part of your audience.

#7 – User-generated content

What makes something “really good”?

It’s a very subjective term that is open for interpretation. Generally speaking, a good piece of content delivers the answer to a question the user is placing.

For example, a good piece of content about dog food will allow you to discover the best brands, while also maintaining a fun and interesting tone that keeps them engaged.

However… Not all good content is viral content material.

Sometimes, making something so awful that it’s interesting can be instrumental to making it go viral.

Of course, It’s one in a million chances of it happening… But it does happen, sometimes.

Mind yourself, we are not talking about ads that are bad for the sake of bad. We are talking about blunders that are so ridiculous people online can’t stop mocking them.

For example, when Apple released AirPods, back in 2016, waves upon waves of people started mocking them for the wireless look and the overpriced tag (as Apple does).

This is an example of native advertising – ads that appear as regular content and don’t look like advertising. According to this research, it’s almost impossible to tell content and native advertising apart, and only 10% of consumers successfully realise they are watching an ad whenever placed in front of native content. 

The most interesting thing is that no one asked these people to create advertisements for Apple. 

Simply enough, Apple released something so outrageous it got users all over the world to generate something for them because it was a trending thing to do.

User-generated content sometimes pushes people to generate more user-generated content.

#8 – Get help from big people

A celebrity endorsement is perhaps the simplest way to go viral in no time.

Finding A-list celebrities to help you out may be a bit tough at first unless you are neighbours with Keanu Reeves, who spiked up CD Projekt’s stock price simply by endorsing a videogame during an event.

However, finding small celebrities and influencers online is easy – exactly what you should focus on.

#9 – Shock people

If your business works with delicate topics, there’s no point in sugarcoating things, sometimes.

Rip the band-aid off in a classy way that gets people to take action.

A great example of shock value is Sandy Hook’s promise way to very clearly show the horror of a school shooting, yet playfully and interestingly. The Washington Post described this viral ad as a ‘gut punch’.

#10 – Share your content on Reddit

We have a love-hate relationship with Reddit.

It’s a hub where the craziest things can be found and you can quite literally talk about anything (an entire community dedicated to discussing the advantages of carrying sand in your pocket? It’s a thing, apparently), but you can go viral and get viral in no time.

Going viral on Facebook or Twitter relies heavily on who you are connected with. 

However, Reddit does not have restrictions, since reaching the front page only depends on posting content that anonymous people then “upvote” if they find it interesting.

The problem with Reddit it’s that it can be unreliable at times. You can post the best possible content and get nothing, or you can post a video of a spoon and get 44,000 upvotes.

It’s a weird, weird place that however pays off if you reach the front page. Going viral sends thousands, if not tens of thousands of visitors into your profile, which can then include relevant links to your blog, website or anything else. 

Reddit is unreliable, and there’s no magic pill to what works and what doesn’t. 

Generally speaking, it’s wise to try to create content that drives forward a sense of community.

For example, the most upvoted post on Reddit is a video of a guy that rented a billboard to say “$GME GO BRRR”, a post that resonated with the r/wallstreetbets community.  

So, as a rule of thumb, try to create something that makes sense to a specific niche. I don’t know what “Brrr” means, but the 300k people that upvoted this post do.


There are some disadvantages to viral marketing: its sheer size makes it very hard to control what people think and say about you and your brand, which makes PR campaigns and reputation management services essential.

It’s smart to have them ready, once you start noticing the signs of a piece going viral.