How to Create Effective Viral Messaging

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably seen the video that Marina Shifrin made to quit her job. This video has garnered 18.2 million views since it was posted and has been the subject of many news stories and talk shows. The video actually garnered Marina a new job for Queen Latifah, so you could say that it ended up being a huge success.


Viral messaging is often believed to be free, like Marina’s video, but more and more of these “spontaneous” messages are being created by advertising agencies working for large clients. Our team works on viral campaigns all the time, and there are a few key things we keep in mind when we are developing a new viral message.

First, memorable messaging doesn’t have to be in the form of a video, other mediums can be just as effective, such as a jingle or a story. A story is the currency of the conversation, not the media type or channel that you choose. It needs to be a contagious idea or a sticky message, something that will stay with the viewer.

You may be asking, why did Marina’s video stick? It’s just a woman, dancing around her office at 4:30 in the morning to a catchy song. It’s not her… it’s the message that sticks. It’s emotional; few of us have gotten through life without having a job or a boss that we dislike. We imagine how great it would be to tell our bosses (past or present) that we are quitting in such a creative and public way.

The video is something that we want to tell our friends about. Viral messaging has to be something that we tell others about because it will make them laugh, give them valuable information or somehow help them. In Marina’s case, the video is so viscerally moving that we can’t help but tell our friends so that they will feel the same thing. People love to talk about things that make them feel or look good, things that make them feel like insiders.


Another popular viral video, the song written by Zach Sobiech and the latter video made by a group of celebrities including Bryan Cranston, Jenna Elfman, Ashley Tisdale and Sarah Silverman among others.The song is an emotional goodbye from a teen with bone cancer and the ensuing video featuring Bryan Cranston, the lead actor on Zach’s favorite television show, Breaking Bad. The video, made as a tribute to the positive message Zach preached through his illness and subsequent death, became a huge success as people talked about how powerful and uplifting Zach’s story was.

The final point that Zach’s video had was a trigger. Many of the celebrities in the video are well-known singers and actors, people we will see again and again through their careers. Each time we see one of them we have the recollection that they were in Zach’s video. “Did you see that video? It was really beautiful and sad all at the same time, let me show it to you on YouTube.” That trigger will outlast the initial buzz of the video release and will endure as a reminder as long as the individual remembers it. Because the video was so emotional, and we know that the stronger the emotion, the longer it will be remembered, this trigger could take hold for a very long time.


When producing a viral message for a brand, the communication should move the viewer from a product or service conversation to a passion conversation. Predictability doesn’t work well here, because there needs to be a transformation in how the product is viewed.

Using these simple rules will give you a roadmap to your product’s viral messaging and engage your viewers increasing your brand’s awareness and loyalty.

Can you name the following viral videos?

(Answer is hidden in white, select to reveal)


Charlie Bit My Finger



What did the Fox Say


Taylor Swift Goat Duet


Kid President


Hair Curling Fail


Chuck Norris Parodies Van Damme Split


Keenan Cahill sings Katy Perry


Bed Intruder Song

Follow these easy tips to become a Social Media Messaging Master!

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