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Viral Marketing


Viral marketing is a business strategy that uses existing social networks to promote a product or service. This marketing technique relies on individuals sharing marketing content, mainly through social media or word-of-mouth, promoting rapid dissemination just like a virus spreading. It aims to create exponential growth in the product’s visibility and effect.


The phonetics of the keyword “Viral Marketing” is /ˈvʌɪrəl ˈmɑːrkɪtɪŋ/.

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Viral Marketing is a technique that relies on individuals to spread a message or product, often through social media or email, which can result in exponential growth in visibility and impact.</li><li>It can be a highly effective and cost-efficient marketing strategy as it leverages the power of word-of-mouth and social networks, but it also requires a deep understanding of what motivates people to share and engage.</li><li>However, businesses cannot entirely control or predict the success of a viral marketing campaign, and there’s a risk of negative public reaction if the campaign is perceived as manipulative or insincere.</li></ol>


Viral marketing is a crucial strategy in business and finance because it utilizes networks of individuals to exponentially increase awareness of a product, service, or brand. It’s important because of its potential far-reaching impact at a relatively low cost. Viral marketing leverages social media and other digital platforms to generate word-of-mouth marketing, allowing products and campaigns to travel swiftly and widely among consumers. This strategy can lead to increased brand recognition, market share, and sales. Additionally, when customers share content within their network, it builds trust and authenticity, which are highly effective in influencing consumer decisions. Therefore, viral marketing is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, capable of yielding substantial returns when executed effectively.


Viral marketing is a strategy leveraged by businesses with the intent to encourage existing customers or various stakeholders to share the company’s marketing messages to their network – acting as a catalyst for the brand’s exposure and influence. Its purpose is to create a buzz around the business or product. As the name suggests, it aims to spread a message quickly and extensively, much like a physical virus would through human contact. This form of marketing can use different mediums such as social media, email and even word-of-mouth and is used to spike traffic growth, increase brand awareness, or achieve other marketing objectives. Viral marketing is often utilized for its potential to acquire a large number of new customers at a low cost, particularly in instances where the budget for traditional advertising might be limited. It capitalizes on the network effect, which postulates that the value of a product or service increases exponentially with each additional user. Businesses apply this principal by creating content that is worth sharing – capitalizing on the consumer’s desire to share interesting, entertaining or valuable information. Thus, viral marketing is a valuable tool for businesses in the digital age where customer engagement matters more than ever. The huge reach offered by social media platforms has turned viral marketing into a core strategy for many companies aiming to leverage the user network for business growth.


1. The Blair Witch Project: Perhaps one of the earliest examples of viral marketing, the creators of this 1999 horror film created a fictional backstory online about the “Blair Witch” that sparked rumors and curiosity about whether it was real or not. This kind of buzz generated intrigue and resulted in the film grossing nearly $250 million worldwide, from a mere $60,000 budget.2. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches”: In 2013, Dove launched a campaign called “Real Beauty Sketches,” where a forensic artist was asked to draw women first based on their self-description, and then based on how a stranger described them. The differences between the two drawings were stark and arrived at the campaign’s message about self-esteem and beauty standards. The video quickly went viral, recording more than 114 million views in the first month. 3. Ice Bucket Challenge: Although it was intended to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge became a worldwide phenomenon in 2014. People would film themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads and then challenge others to do the same. This viral marketing campaign reportedly led to a substantial increase in donations to the ALS Association, highlighting the power of viral marketing in philanthropy.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Viral Marketing?

Viral marketing is a business strategy that uses social media networks, word of mouth, and other interactive digital avenues to promote a product or service. The aim is to produce content that users will share with their network, creating exponential growth in brand exposure and influence.

How does Viral Marketing work?

Viral Marketing works by creating a message that is interesting and compelling enough that people will want to share it. This can be achieved through the use of humor, curiosity, surprise, or other emotional triggers. When this message is shared across social media, it can rapidly reach a vast audience.

What are the benefits of Viral Marketing?

Viral Marketing can enhance brand awareness and image, bring in a large number of potential customers, and potentially increase sales significantly. Another benefit is cost-effectiveness, since this strategy relies heavily on audiences spreading the message rather than traditional paid advertisements.

Can Viral Marketing negatively impact my business?

If not executed properly, Viral Marketing can backfire. A misplaced or mishandled attempt can lead to negative customer feedback or public backlash. Companies also have less control over the narrative with this strategy since individuals are free to interpret and share content as they wish.

How can I start a Viral Marketing campaign?

Begin by understanding your target audience and what they are likely to share. Then, create an enticing and shareable content strategy that fits your brand’s message. Use your existing social media posts as a platform for distribution and encourage followers to share content within their networks.

Are there any famous examples of successful Viral Marketing?

Some of the most well-known examples include the Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola and the Ice Bucket Challenge by the ALS Association. Both initiatives successfully harnessed the power of social sharing to increase brand awareness on a global scale.

Does Viral Marketing replace other types of marketing?

No, Viral Marketing should be used as part of a holistic marketing strategy. While it can offer significant benefits, it is most effective when used in combination with other marketing techniques. It provides an opportunity for consumers to engage with a brand in a fun and interactive way, but should not be relied upon as the sole means of promotion.

Is Viral Marketing only for big companies or startups can use it too?

Viral Marketing can be utilized by any size of company, from small businesses, startups to big corporations. The key is to create content that resonates with the target audience and has the potential to be widely shared. It is not reliant on big budgets, but on creativity and understanding of audience behavior.

Related Finance Terms

  • Social Media Engagement
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Content Sharing
  • User-Generated Content
  • Brand Awareness

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