Malick Ba

The Secret To Going Viral

June 7, 2016

I’ve decided to finally tackle what seems to be the life long question in the advertising and marketing world: how do you get your product/campaign/content to go viral? As someone whose grown up with the internet, there is one simple answer for this: you can’t. Marketers invest so much money and time into trying to make their campaigns be the next ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but at the end of the day, there is no formula for it. There’s a certain quality about viral campaigns, videos, or memes that simply just catch on because they do. Ultimately I think that the things that make content viral is a combination of either effectiveness, call to action, or humour, or all of the above.

I’m on Instagram a lot, and that place is basically a hub for viral content-mostly giphy (4)memes. Its interesting to see the types of things that go viral even if they aren’t promoted by a huge brand. At the top of my head, some of the biggest viral content on Instagram has been completely random. Think about it: Damn Daniel, the crying Jordan meme, and especially the sponge-gar meme that’s blown up as of late.This isn’t content that’s created with any intention of becoming something bigger than a joke, but that’s what makes it so interesting. Marketers focus on formulas, data, and algorithms when attempting to create campaigns that will be the next big thing, but really there is no way to effectively quantify why “Damn Daniel” was even a thing. If anything, it’s the outcomes that are the most important. The kids behind that entire joke got a life time supply of Vans for basically accidently promoting their product all over the internet.

To give a personal example, I was watching a hockey game at some point last year and had made a tweet about one of the players. About 10 minutes later I had gotten a notification on my phone that I had it had been retweeted a couple of times. I didn’t think anything of it. About an hour later, my phone would not stop buzzing. To my surprise, my harmless tweet had over 50 retweets and about 100 favourites (or “likes” now). Apparently a fan account of the player I commented on had retweeted me onto their network so all of their followers had seen it and then done the same. I was astonished, and actually kind of excited that something I said actually kind of had some substance to it (it really didn’t).


So really, there is no way to make your content, campaigns, or products go viral on purpose. Let’s be honest, if it were that easy to achieve, then everyone would do it. It takes a certain element, a certain quality to content that has to do with a combination of good timing, appropriation to specific context, and the effectiveness of whatever it is one is trying to promote. That being said, if you see The MAD Mix go viral, it wasn’t by accident-its simply because Dak and I have obviously mastered how its done. At least that’s what we want you to think…


Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications with a minor in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency and is looking forward to how he can leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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