What Does it Mean to Go Viral in 2024? Are You Next?

April 11th, 2024

Pexels Terje Sollie 320617

Do you remember Despacito? 

How it went viral not only in Puerto Rico but all over the globe, from States and Italy to Indonesia and 40+ countries. 

However, Despacito was supercharged when Justin Bieber loved it and collaborated on a remix version. The Bieber remix instantly amplified Despacito’s popularity, and it became the biggest song of 2017 by every measure.

Similarly, businesses nowadays have realized the potential of making content that can go viral and drive more ROI. 

But what’s the formula for making content that goes viral?

Let’s explore this in detail to understand what’s considered viral. 

What does it mean to go viral?

Viral marketing is a strategy that leverages social media and other platforms to promote a product, service, or brand. The aim is to create content that is so engaging or compelling that it spreads rapidly—like a virus—ultimately increasing brand awareness. 

Now, what contributes to this virality? That’s: 

  • High entertainment value.
  • Uniqueness.
  • Authenticity.

But going viral does not mean more likes, shares, or visibility. Once a brand goes viral, it generates sales inquiries, deals, and partnership opportunities. That’s why it’s called “Virality” because it’s not ONLY limited to views and engagement. 

Here are some of the key elements that make content go viral:

  • Social currency (earning the trust of your viewers)
  • Triggers (cues that remind people to share)
  • Emotion (content that evokes strong feelings)
  • Practical value (useful information)
  • Stories (narratives that engage and resonate) 

How many views are considered viral on different social media platforms?

Since video content has become one of the most popular viral formats, you’ll see a new viral trend on platforms like TikTok and Instagram every other month. 

But you must wonder what’s considered viral and, more importantly—why it goes viral.

Simply put, when a post gets millions of impressions or views within the shortest possible time, people consider it viral. However, brands use a few KPIs to determine whether a piece of content went viral. 

  • Share count: Total number of times content has been shared on social media.
  • Engagement rate: Percentage of interactions (likes, comments, shares) relative to the number of impressions or followers.
  • Reach: Number of unique visitors to your content or website.
  • CTR: Percentage of users who click on a link out of the total who viewed it.
  • Conversion rate: Percentage of users who take a desired action (e.g., purchasing) after interacting with the content.
  • Time spent: Average duration users spend interacting with the content.
  • Sentimental analysis: Process of determining the emotional tone behind the content or responses to it.

Now, let’s see what virality looks like on different platforms.

How many views is viral on Instagram

On Instagram, 50k+ likes or views in the first 24 hours are considered viral for image or video posts. For Reels, anywhere around 100,000 views or more signifies reaching viral status.

However, a video could have fewer views but high engagement and still go viral on Instagram.

How many TikTok views are considered viral 

A TikTok video that gathers 10,000 views within the first few hours can quickly go viral, with some videos hitting millions of views in a matter of days. Generally, a video should gather 1 million views within a few days to be considered viral.

But if you’re wondering how to go viral on TikTok overnight—that’s impossible. You can’t expect your first video to go viral on TikTok. Even for top business gurus like Gary Vee, getting the first viral TikTok took 30 to 60 days. 


How Many TikToks It Takes to go VIRAL #garyvee #patrickbetdavid #tiktokfamous

♬ original sound – Sean Cannell

What’s considered viral on Twitter

Contrary to Instagram and TikTok, Tweets can go viral with fewer likes and retweets. A few thousand likes and hundreds of retweets indicate a viral tweet. 

For example, look at this hilarious thread that went viral after McDonald’s empathetic Tweet in 2020. 

Many other brands jumped on to join the thread and get relevance on Twitter because that’s how trends are set.

Brands that are winning the viral marketing game 

Now, let’s try to understand the psychology of viral content with these most famous examples of viral marketing.

Barbie’s Marketing Campaign 

2023 was the year Barbie went all out. Their marketing campaign for the live-action movie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, was crazy (in the best way possible). They had a whopping $150 million marketing budget—the reason behind Barbie’s virality. 

Why did it go viral?

  • Partnered with some of the top brands like Airbnb and Bumble. 
  • London was splashed with Barbie pink, landmarks got makeovers, and even food turned millennial pink.
  • Placed a giant-sized 3D ad in front of the world’s tallest Burj Khalifa. 

Cadbury worldwide hide event

Cadbury partnered with Google Maps for a massive digital Easter egg hunt where people could hide virtual eggs worldwide and mark their locations on the map. This brought a creative twist to the traditional Easter egg hunt—over 800k eggs were hidden, and 14.5k eggs were bought. 

Why did it go viral?

  • Added a creative twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt with a digital approach.
  • Engaged people by giving them a chance to participate in a global event.

Dove’s Detox Your Feed campaign

Dove’s detox campaign empowered parents to set a positive tone for their children’s social media use. They used deep-fake technology to show what impact social media could have on their children and encouraged healthy habits to help young girls confidently survive the online world.

Toxic Influence: A Dove Film | Dove Self-Esteem Project

Why did it go viral?

  • Addressed a relevant social issue.
  • Used deep fakes to demonstrate what influence social media can have.

How to go viral: Best tips for brands and creators 

Here are some of the best tips to go viral that you can use to create your next viral marketing campaign or post.

Leverage trending topics

Trends can be driven by current events, pop culture phenomena, social issues, or even viral memes and challenges. And what’s trending can also make you viral. 

As a good marketing team or creator, you should identify and create content around trending topics relevant to your audience. Doing so will quickly capture your audience’s interest.

Share user-generated content

Incorporate content created by your audience to promote community and authenticity. That’s because every customer would have their own style of showcasing your brand. This acts as social proof and encourages others to shop from you or engage with your content. 

Here’s an example of how Coca-Cola used the #shareacoke hashtag to encourage people worldwide to share their personalized bottles. 

Simply put UGC is a viral marketing tactic that doesn’t feel like marketing. And the reason we’re highlighting UGC is because Tom Fishburne rightly said: “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” 

Optimize for shareability

Create content that is easy to share across social platforms, such as eye-catching images or videos. 

To make your visual content more appealing, you can:

  • Make your message concise and persuasive. 
  • Use attention-grabbing headlines.
  • Include a call to action. 

Not only will it be easy for viewers to share your content, but it will also help them connect with your brand easily.

Post at the right time

There’s a right time for everything, so you must understand what time is right for your brand. Posting on strategic timing maximizes your content’s reach and increases the likelihood of it going viral. 

So, schedule your content to go live when your target audience is most active online. You can identify these optimal times from social media analytics or SMM tools. 

Optimize for platform algorithms

Each social media platform has an algorithm that shows users the most interesting content. So, a smart tactic to go viral is to tailor your content according to the platform-specific algorithm and trends.

Now, how do you do that? Monitor what content format and trends work on each platform.

For example:

  • Text-based content works best on Twitter. 
  • Short video reels are TikTok’s gem. 
  • While Instagram was popular for images when it launched, it has now evolved into a reels-inspiration platform. 

In the last couple of weeks, this trend was a real hit on Instagram: 

So, this is an example of a platform-specific trend.

5 things to consider for creating viral content 

Getting viral depends mostly on your content. So, let’s see how you can create content that goes viral.

1) Understand your audience

Virality is strongly connected to targeting the right audience. Now, how do you understand your target audience? Research their demographics (age, location, interests, etc.) and analyze what types of content they engage with most. You can do this using social media marketing tools.  

Then, identify their pain points or desires to create campaigns that connect them with your brand. For example, create campaigns with easy-to-understand language that tells how your product solves a problem.

2) Tell stories – success, failure, fear, and more

Emotions connect people and resonate deeply within humans. And what could be better than stories to connect people emotionally? They build a powerful connection with humans using different emotions—joy, nervousness, or fear.

Personal branding coach Kasey Jones shared her experience of going viral. At first, Kasey was surprised by how popular her post about her layoff became. But why did it go so well? After careful analysis, she realized it was because she shared an emotion-packed story, which helped her readers connect with her emotionally.

Use this as inspiration and tell stories so your audience can resonate with you.  

3) Collaborate with influencers

Influencers can promote your content to their followers, so find the right ones and collaborate with them. For a more authentic collaboration, you can even create content together. 

This way, their endorsement would feel genuine, and their audience will likely engage with and share your content.

4) Run exciting campaign contests or giveaways  

People love winning free products—whether from a brand they’ve tried before or a brand completely new to them. For this purpose, they even participate in contests, giveaways, or challenges.  

So, you can try this technique because if you have a genius marketing idea, you never know what may go viral. 

5) A/B test and analyze 

A/B testing means trying different things and understanding what works better. It gives you an idea of what your audience prefers the most. When you identify and double down on the highest-performing content among your audience, your chances of going viral increase.

You can do the following to A/B test your marketing campaigns:

  • Try different hooks. 
  • Use different visuals.  
  • Create varied content styles.

Are there any drawbacks to going viral?

Yes, going viral can be a double-edged sword only if it doesn’t go right. While it brings widespread attention, here are some drawbacks to virality:

  • New followers don’t always bring more revenue.
  • Viral content is short-lived and doesn’t always sustain itself.
  • You might get unwanted attention from the audience that’s not yours.
  • Maintaining engagement with a larger following can be more difficult because, no matter what, you would have to show up and meet your audience’s expectations.

Next time, before you think about what’s considered viral, check whether you have a solid marketing strategy. 

Build the right strategy to nail your marketing

Yes, attention is awesome—who doesn’t love being in the spotlight? But if that limelight comes from people who don’t align with your company’s mission, that will give you headaches.

That’s why you need a clear-cut viral marketing strategy—a strategy that genuinely connects your audience with your brand and persuades them to send more business to you. 

And NowADays can help with that. Share with us what’s on your mind, and we’ll take it from there.