Marketing Viral

Top 4 Viral Video Marketing Techniques [+ examples]

By Shanon Roberts, on 27 August 2020

While viral video marketing has certainly received a boost through social media, social media virality and video virality are not exactly one and the same. Just by their very nature, videos allow brands to make longer-form content that touches audiences in a deep way.

The methods for making viral videos varies slightly from social media. In this article, I’ll break down 4 unique tips to help your next viral video marketing campaign succeed, as well as examine 4 strong example of viral video marketing and their key takeaways.

* Do you want to know the secrets of successful viral marketing campaigns?  Download our free ebook to discover the fundamentals of viral marketing,  including two in-depth case studies.

Top 4 Viral Video Marketing Techniques

Top 4 Viral Video Marketing Techniques

Making a video go viral is never guaranteed, but there are some techniques you can use to help boost its chance of achieving success. These are 4 of our top viral video marketing techniques:

  1. Don’t Forget About Video SEO
  2. Use Emotions
  3. Experiment With Different Formats
  4. Optimize the Video Across All Channels

1. Video SEO

Much like traditional SEOvideo SEO is important for making your viral video as easy as possible to find. 

Take a look at the title of your video. Does it include the campaign’s hashtag, the name of your business, or the purpose of the video? 

Video SEO also includes the thumbnail of the video. When creating video thumbnails make something that will hook the audience in yet also be easy to understand what the video is about. 

2. Emotions

The most valuable aspect of viral video marketing is the ability to touch emotions on a much deeper level than in any other form of viral advertising. Emotions like hope, inspiration, humor, shock, or even anger can trigger the seemingly rapid-fire spread of virality. 

Viral video marketing doesn’t always have to be expensive either. A frequently cited example of a successful video marketing is GoPro’s Fireman Saves Kitten video. This video not only expertly caught the attention of millions of viewers, but it also subtly shows the durability of GoPro cameras. As Disruptive Advertising puts it, this video works because “It wasn’t an emotional video about GoPro - the GoPro just kind of happened to be there.”

3. Formats

Viral video marketing can take on many different forms. Some are simply traditional advertisements that take on a new life online (think of any major Superbowl commercial or Dos Equis’s Most Interesting Man in The World ads). Some viral videos are actually part of a larger series, like Blend Tec’s popular Will It Blend? videos, and some are simply stand alone knockouts, like Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches.

Decide what kind of format you want your viral video marketing to take and what its overall impact on your brand’s message and voice will be. As the Dove and GoPro examples show, viral video marketing campaigns can serve as a good way to show, not tell, what it is your brand stands for and believes in.  

4. Optimize Across All Channels

Often times the goal in viral marketing is to “break the internet.” But, in order to do so, you need to ensure that your content is as spreadable as possible and that you are optimizing the content for each platform’s unique delivery method. 

For a viral campaign to be all-encompassing and truly like a virus, we recommend posting on all of the major platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. But, this should be done strategically.

While this may sound like a no-brainer, this simple strategy is often easily missed by many brands.  

When promoting a viral video, be aware of the maximum video times on each platform, and optimize the shorter platforms (TikTok, Instagram stories) by using fun and enticing clips that link to the longer version (like including the option to follow through to IGTV in an Instagram post). 


4 Examples of Viral Video Marketing

1. Chipotle TikTok Flip Lid Challenge

 TikTok marketing has grown exponentially in 2020. And there are many opportunities to go viral on TikTok, if brands truly try to understand how this unique app works and how users consume the content. 

One brand was able to do just that. In 2019, Chipotle invented the Lid Flip Challenge where TikTok users had to film themselves trying to flip their Chipotle lid onto the bowl. Sounds easy, but it’s not!

For the campaign, they partnered with a popular Gen Z influencer to launch the campaign, and the result was over 104 million video views and 110K user-generated challenge submissions. 

This challenge highlights the new era of viral videos. In the past, viral video marketing used to mainly come from expensive Super Bowl commercials or popular ads that go viral on YouTube. But this challenge proves that as our platforms evolve, what constitutes a viral video is also evolving. 

The lesson: TikTok often has many different hashtag challenges going on in the app, and inventing or participating in a challenge that is fun and entertaining is a good way to try and go viral on TikTok.

2. Peloton Wife vs Aviation Gin

Peloton and Aviation Gin serve as two examples of what to do when going viral goes oh so wrong, and then oh so right. 

Ahead of the 2019 holiday season, Peloton released an ad that went viral for all the wrong reasons. Users criticized the ad and accused it of being sexist and sending the wrong message. The ad went completely viral and consumed almost every social media feed and news segment for the week. (Interestingly enough, despite the intense amount of negative press, Peloton actually reported increased revenue and members.) Eventually, Peloton removed the ad from YouTube and any TV spots. 

Viral Marketing Video Examples

But, the real star of this viral video marketing lesson is Aviation Gin, a liquor company owned by actor Ryan Reynolds.

Aviation Gin hired the same actress from the Peloton ad and created a commercial that seemingly implies that the “Peloton wife” is newly divorced from the husband from the original ad, sipping a stiff glass of Aviation Gin. This ad went instantly viral and received just as much attention as the original ad, but with much more praise.

The lesson here is that using humor to take advantage of viral moments is a high risk, high reward viral technique. This is an exceptional example of trendjacking to the top degree. 

3. Gillette - The Best A Man Can Be

Not all viral ads have to be funny or entertaining. Take Gillette’s strong “The Best a Man Can Be” video, which aims to reinvent their old slogan “The Best a Man Can Get” while tackling sexism, bullying, and toxic masculinity. 

This use of viral video marketing shows that virality can also be used to take a stand and showcase your company’s values and mission. This video was cinematically shot, touched on controversial subjects, and takes a strong stand on the company’s values. As consumers continue to indicate that they want companies and brand’s to take fierce stances on social issues, Gillette took the opportunity to show up. 

The video currently has over 34 million views and sparked debates all over social media and the news. 

4. Dollar Shave Club 

Finally, possibly the most cited example of viral video marketing is Dollar Shave Club’s Our Blades Are F***ing Awesome.

If you think only major brands can do viral marketing, think again. Dollar Shave Club was practically unknown when this video released, but that changed just 48 hours later after the video took storm

This video is so highly cited because it shows that viral video marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. This video was made with a budget of only $4,500 and it is now one of the most famous videos of all time.

The Lesson: You don’t have to be a multi-million dollar company with a a huge budget and name to go viral. Especially now with options like TikTok, all it takes is a good idea and a little ingenuity and your videos can go far. 

The Secrets of Viral Marketing

Shanon Roberts

International Digital Marketing Strategist