3 Steps to Make the Most Boring Brands Go Viral

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Everyone wants to go viral. When we hit publish on a piece of content, we always hope it will receive widespread interaction. Reaching and engaging large numbers is always the aim.

But going viral doesn’t always seem like the most realistic marketing goal. This is especially true for smaller or ‘boring’ brands. It’s hard to imagine getting such attention when you don’t have inherent commercial appeal. Nevermind a budget like Nike, Apple or Coca Cola…

Being Small and ‘Boring’ Can Be a Benefit

The thing is, going viral is actually easier for smaller and more ‘boring’ brands to achieve…

Viral content is material that spreads far across the internet in a short and intense period of time. Viral content is organic and audience driven in its nature.

So no matter how much money a big brand like Apple can spend on a campaign there’s no guarantee that it will resonate. You can’t pay an audience to connect with your content.

Also, audiences tend to be more receptive to marketing material from lesser known brands. This means you business’ small stature could be its greatest advantage.

It’s the Story that Counts

Your viral potential always lies in your storytelling. If you can tell a compelling story that gives your audience value, you have all the ingredients you need. A sexy brand can tell as good a story as a boring one.

The case of Old Spice demonstrates this perfectly. Before 2010, Old Spice was a well known brand, but one with a stale reputation and an aging customer base.

Then the brand injected humour into their content. They created a hilarious YouTube video, got 53 million views and reinvented the brand.

old spiceOld Spice humorous commercial that made the brand go viral 

Of course not all businesses have the budget or resources to create a flashy TV ad. But there are lessons to learn from Old Spice’s fearless and creative approach.

1. Don’t Put Limits on Your Brand

Give yourself permission to create outstanding and engaging content.  As mentioned, your budget has little to do with your viral marketing success. It’s all about the content itself – and anyone can create good content.

All you have to do is find your angle. The problem is, you might have look beyond your product or service to find it. Maybe you have a compelling history or fascinating employees that the world should hear about.

For Northern Irish courier company, NI Parcels, the angle was their location. Instead of creating content about shipping, NI Parcels focused on Northern Irish culture. This helped them reach a much wider audience that courier related content could.

The blog posts were specific and highly targeted to the local audience. As a result, one post: ‘40 Things Only Northern Irish People Do’ got 200,000 page views overnight.  It received 50,000 shares on Facebook and has since attracted millions of website visitors.

google analytics imageGoogle Analytics spike

The content didn’t relate to company’s courier services. Yet, the blog post contained a strong call to action at the end, asking people to learn more about the brand. NI Parcels could then retarget website visitors with Google Ads and Facebook Remarketing Ads.

It was also a cost effective PR exercise. All main local print, online and radio media mentioned the blog post.

When creating content, do not take the obvious path with your storytelling. Often it’s the obscurity of a post that gets the reader’s attention.

2. What Does Your Audience Value Most?

You must know your readers inside to uncover what makes them click one piece of content over another. As 2 million blog posts hit the internet every single day, yours needs to offer value to your readers.

Look at the websites and social media accounts that are popular among them. Seek out the content that performs well and try and see if there is a similar thread running through it. This will show you what your audience values in their content.

For example, your audience might engage with funny content but not informative posts. This means they value humour over education.

When you discover what your audience likes, give it to them in abundance. If you create a post called: “Top 10 Funniest Cat Videos Of All Time” ensure it delivers the value it promises. Do not lie to your readers. These must be the funniest cat videos of all time. Otherwise your audience will lose trust in your content and your brand.

Language and Tone

When carrying out you audience research, pay close attention to the comments they make. Look at how they speak in blog comments and in forums. Observe their language and tone so that you can write in a way that is relatable and relevant to them.

A business that does this well is Intercom. Despite primarily targeting businesses, Intercom understands that their users are normal people.  And so, the writing style is informal and includes language like ‘crap’ or ‘pisses off’. Their blog posts are informative and useful, but they communicate the content in a laid back way.


3. Make it Shareable

If you want your audience to share your content, make it as shareable as possible. It’s a simple point but is important to note. Even the most engaging post can hit a brick wall if it is not easy to spread across the internet.

In this fast paced era of instant gratification via the internet, we have become lazy. If a website takes more than 20 seconds to load, we’re going to bounce off without a second thought.

It should not take more than two clicks to share content from your site to a social account. Any more than that and the user isn’t going to bother – no matter how incredible your post is.

So place some visible social share buttons on your posts. Also consider adding some Tweetable quotes or images within the body of the text.

And when it comes to sharing, don’t just leave the job to your users. As  Neil Patel says: “Content never written won’t be promoted and content not promoted might as well not have been written in the first place.”

Be sure to publish the post on all your own social media channels and email newsletters. Seek out key influencers within your niche if you think they might like the post too. If they do, they maybe willing to promote it to their audiences, although some will need a fee.

Your audience on every social media channel will vary. So be mindful of this when writing a caption or selecting images to go alongside your posts.

Post your content often too, as it may have a ‘second wind’ viral effect. It’s not uncommon to get a few hundred hits the first time you post and maybe a few hundred thousand next time. As much as there is a science to content marketing, there is also an element of pot luck. The time of day and the wording of your post may impact its success. But if you believe you have an effective piece of content on your hands, don’t give up on it.


The only limit to a ‘boring’ brand’s viral success is the restrictions it puts on itself. Stop believing that your service or product is not fun or compelling.

Successful content is always the result of what you’re saying. It’s not about who is saying it, how you’re saying it and it’s not how much money you’re spending on it. We can’t all be Coca Cola, but that’s not a bad thing.

Bio: Written by Lana Richardson, journalist and digital marketer, specialising in viral content and social media. Lana is the current blog editor for NIParcels.com and IrishParcels.ie.

Photo credit: Youtube

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