February 5, 2024

Unlocking the Secrets of Virality: Can You Manufacture Viral Content?

Unlocking the Secrets of Virality: Can You Manufacture Viral Content?

Going viral has the power to catapult a brand or individual into the spotlight, sparking unmatched levels of engagement and reach. But is virality something that can be manufactured or is it purely a stroke of luck?

There is no denying that certain elements contribute to the potential for virality: captivating storytelling, emotional resonance, and relatability, to name a few.

Can these factors be deliberately engineered to guarantee viral success? Is there a formula that can be followed, or is it all just a fluke?

Jump into the world of viral content and discover what makes it tick. Explore case studies that show off both the wins and the failures in the quest to go viral, revealing the tricks and tactics behind their outcomes.

Understanding the concept of virality

Virality is a phenomenon that occurs when content spreads rapidly and extensively through online platforms, reaching a large audience in a short period. It is the result of a perfect storm of factors that resonate with people on a deep level. 

Whether it’s a heartwarming video, a clever meme, or a thought-provoking article, viral content has the ability to captivate and engage millions.

The psychology behind viral content

To understand the psychology behind viral content, we must first delve into the fundamental aspects of human behavior. Emotions play a crucial role in determining what content goes viral. People are more likely to share content that evokes strong emotions, such as joy, surprise, anger, or sadness. Viral content often taps into these emotions, creating a powerful connection with the audience.

A recent viral TikTok video showcased the resilience of Stanley tumblers as a woman’s Kia caught fire, yet the Stanley tumbler in the cupholder retained its ice despite the intense heat. The video garnered 3.5 million views and 31,300 comments, prompting a swift and impressive response from Stanley. 

@danimarielettering Thirsty after you catch on fire? @Stanley 1913 is like no problem i gotchu #fyp #carfire #accident #stanleycup ♬ original sound - Danielle

President Terence Reilly personally messaged the customer, Danielle, expressing relief for her safety and emphasizing how Stanley products are built for durability. In a surprising move, Reilly announced a giveaway of Stanley products for Danielle and went a step further by offering to replace her damaged vehicle. The post gained rapid traction, accumulating 1.1 million likes and 21,000 comments on TikTok within 16 hours, highlighting the brand’s adept and impactful social media marketing.

Another psychological factor at play is the concept of social proof. When people see others engaging with and sharing content, they are more inclined to do the same. This is fueled by the fear of missing out and the desire to be part of a collective experience. By understanding these psychological triggers, content creators can craft their content in a way that maximizes its viral potential.

Susi Vidal, a TikToker with over 3.5 million followers, is known for her comedic cooking content. In 2023 Susi posted a video on TikTok stating “Call me crazy if you want, but I’ve never liked store-bought pesto.” This video has over 19 million views, 1.7 million likes, and has been stitched by thousands of people who are sharing their own stories, that are truly “crazy”. 



the only pesto recipe you need: 1c basil, 1/3c parmesan, 1/4c olive oil, 2 large garlic cloves, 1 1/2tbsp pine nuts, 1tbsp lemon juice, pinch of salt! Blend until smooth! 💚

♬ original sound - Susi

This viral trend was something that Susi didn’t intend to happen, but it has now gotten her noticed by Gorden Ramsey and has many articles written about her.


If im going to be crazy, at least Gordon’s on my side 🤪😎

♬ original sound - Susi
Can virality be manufactured?

The question on everyone’s mind is whether virality can be manufactured or if it is simply a matter of luck. 

While there is no foolproof method to guarantee viral success, it is possible to increase the chances of content going viral through strategic planning and execution. By understanding the factors that contribute to virality, content creators can tailor their content to maximize its potential reach.

One approach is to leverage the power of influencers. Collaborating with influencers who have a large following and a strong online presence can significantly increase the chances of content going viral. Influencers have built trust and credibility with their audience, and their endorsement can give a content piece the boost it needs to gain traction.

RELATED: STN Digital x Under Armour: Influencer Marketing Campaign Reaches 800K + and 1 Million + Impressions

Another strategy is to tap into trending topics, trending sounds on TikTok, and current events. By aligning content with popular discussions and trends, content creators can tap into the existing interest and engagement surrounding a particular subject. This increases the likelihood of the content being shared and discussed, ultimately increasing its viral potential.

Taylor Swift’s and Travis Kelce’s relationship has been the hot topic for the past several months, with over 327,000 results when searching their names. Many companies, including the NFL, have made sure to capture and post content of the two as it is almost guaranteed that it will go viral. 

The NFL even changed their TikTok bio to “Taylor was here” causing more attention to their page.

Case studies of viral content

During Thanksgiving preparations with her daughter, 96-year-old Helen, affectionately known as “Grandma Helen” on TikTok, surprised viewers by reciting an old, unofficial, and risqué marketing jingle for Carnation’s canned evaporated milk. The viral TikTok caught the attention of Carnation, prompting the brand to create a video featuring Meghan Bhatia, the Carnation brand manager, explaining that the jingle originated from a 1940s contest entry. Carnation offered to sponsor Grandma Helen’s Thanksgiving dinner and awarded her $5,000 (the original prize amount). They also sent her a basket of merchandise and flowers. Additionally, the Nestlé-owned brand covered the cost of Helen’s granddaughter’s flight home for Thanksgiving, turning the unexpected moment into a heartwarming viral moment.

@mamawroe @Carnation @carnationsocial ♬ The Old Lady Next Door - ADub
@carnationmilks #stitch with @ADub Helen, our jingle queen ❤️ We LOVED your video. Please let us host your thanksgiving dinner plus some! #carnationnation #carnation ♬ original sound - Carnation Milks

Another example of viral success is the Kevin James Meme. The meme has become a sensation, with users creating humorous content using a seemingly shy image of him. Despite James being known for popular comedies like Zookeeper, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and The King of Queens, the meme features a regular Getty image from The King of Queens promo shoot. The irony lies in the fact that the meme is not derived from any of James’ acting roles but has gained widespread popularity nonetheless.

 The “shy Kevin James” meme is spreading rapidly across the internet, and although its momentum is unexplained, users hope it continues to entertain for the foreseeable future.

Case Studies of Manufactured Viral Content

Company Athenos, known for their feta cheese and hummus, tried to manufacture a viral moment by partnering with influencers to create posts that say “the viral #roastedfetasoup .”

The Grilled Cheese Social was one of the influencers who partnered with Athenos to create a viral trend and they were also the same person who created the viral tomato feta pasta, which actually went viral.

@grilledcheesesocial Baked feta pasta viral recipe! Inspired by #uunifeta via @liemessa & @tiiupiret #learnontiktok #foodtiktok #foodie ♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) - 山口夕依

Athenos then reached out to many big influencers, including Emily Mariko, who is known for her viral food trends, trying to make the #roastedfetasoup stick, but as of today, there are only 32 posts with this hashtag on Instagram and 14 on TikTok. While Athenos’s campaign was ambitious, consumers can tell when a trend or moment is manufactured, creating dishonesty with the brand.

Another example of the latest viral trend is the “Mob Wife Aesthetic” which might have been planted by HBO? 

Recently on TikTok, the “mob wife aesthetic” trend has gained attention, with users either creating earnest videos embracing the aesthetic or offering commentary on them. There’s a claim by user @himollysl that suggests HBO might have planted this trend to promote the 25th anniversary of The Sopranos, given the network’s other promotional activities around the milestone. 

The trend appears to have started gaining traction notably with a video from Kayla Trivieri posted on January 7th, garnering 1.5 million views. The current resonance of “mob wife aesthetic” videos is attributed to The Sopranos being top of mind due to the show’s 25th-anniversary celebration, potentially introducing a new generation to the iconic series.

Strategies for creating viral content

While there is no guaranteed recipe for viral success, certain strategies can increase the chances of content going viral. First and foremost, it is essential to understand the target audience and their preferences. Content that resonates with the intended audience has a higher chance of being shared and going viral. Thorough research, analyzing trends, and staying up to date with the latest developments in the industry can provide valuable insights into what content will resonate with the target audience.

Creating shareable content is another crucial strategy. This can be achieved by making the content easily shareable across various social media platforms. Including social sharing buttons, implementing click-to-tweet functionality, and encouraging users to share can significantly increase the chances of content being shared and going viral.

Additionally, creating a sense of urgency or exclusivity can drive viral success. Limited-time offers, exclusive access, or behind-the-scenes content can create a buzz and motivate users to share the content with their networks. This can generate a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) and increase the likelihood of content going viral. 

McDonald’s Grimace Shake challenge is a key example of this with its limited time to get the shake for Grimace’s birthday. The #grimaceshake hashtag has over 2.4 billion views on TikTok. 

This shows that when you make offers that feel special and urgent, you’re more likely to get people talking and sharing. That’s a solid move for any brand looking to create viral content.

The role of social media in achieving virality

Social media platforms play a pivotal role in the viral spread of content. With billions of users worldwide, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide an unparalleled opportunity to reach a vast audience. The viral nature of social media allows content to be shared and amplified at an exponential rate, leading to increased visibility and engagement.

Understanding the algorithms and features of each social media platform is crucial for maximizing viral potential. Platforms like Facebook prioritize content that sparks meaningful interactions among users. This means that creating content that encourages comments, likes, and shares can increase its reach and chances of going viral. On Instagram, utilizing hashtags, engaging with the community, and leveraging user-generated content can help boost the viral potential of a post.

The impact of virality on brand awareness and growth

Going viral can have a profound impact on brand awareness and growth. When content goes viral, it reaches a vast audience beyond the brand’s immediate following. This increased visibility can lead to new followers, increased website traffic, and potential business opportunities.

Viral content has the potential to create a lasting impression on your audience. When people encounter content that resonates with them on an emotional level, they are more likely to remember the brand associated with it. This can result in increased brand recognition and a positive brand image, ultimately leading to long-term growth and success.

The future of viral marketing

It’s clear that while there is no definitive formula for manufacturing viral content, there are strategies that can increase its chances. Understanding the psychology behind viral content, identifying the factors that contribute to virality, and leveraging social media platforms are key elements in creating content with viral potential.

The future of viral marketing lies in the ability to adapt and stay ahead of the ever-changing digital landscape. As technology continues to evolve and new platforms emerge, content creators and marketers must be agile and innovative. 

By embracing creativity, authenticity, and a deep understanding of the target audience, brands, and individuals can unlock the secrets of virality and harness its power to propel their messages to new heights. 

So, can you manufacture virality? While it may not be guaranteed, armed with the right knowledge and strategies, you can certainly increase your chances of creating content that captures the world’s attention.


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