Viral content – how to make your content contagious

Every brand and marketer dreams of their content ‘going viral’ online. Achieving viral status is like marketing gold: growth, reach and engagement figures become exponential.

If you come across a fantastic piece of content that you have to share, chances are – other people will feel the same. You share it with your friends and followers, who then share it with their friends and followers and so on…and within a matter of hours a piece of content is 'viral’ and has been shown to millions of internet users.

Brands are no longer ‘playing it safe’ or treating content marketing as a secondary activity. Its value has been recognised and entire departments are now being dedicated towards content strategies. In fact, it has been predicted that the next big career opportunity in marketing is for a position which has previously been unheard of – ‘Director of Content.’ Now is the time to consider if your content is distinguishing you from your competitors.

What triggers viral content?

Emotion - the most popularly shared content has to be emotionally evocative. Whether it’s awe, amusement, happiness or anger – content that engages people will be shared time and time again.

Comedic content – people love to laugh, and they love to make others laugh too. If your content is funny, it will make its way around the internet space very quickly.

Perfect timing – smart brands plan. By being organised, branded content hits audiences at just the right time. Whether it’s a specific time of year, a recent new story or event, ‘piggybacking’ on relevant news results in high levels of engagement.

Practical benefit - if the content shared offers some form of practicality, either by making something easier to understand or quicker / more simple to achieve then users will share it to be seen as a 'provider' of useful online updates.

Getting it right

One brand who has really hit the nail on the head this festive season is WestJet. Their 'Christmas Miracle' stunt sees departing passengers on flights from Toronto and Hamilton being presented with a festive kiosk. Santa appears on the screen and asks the travelers what they would like for Christmas. Thinking nothing of this, passengers answer candidly. Upon arriving at their destination, Calgary, it’s not their luggage that appears first on the carousel, but rather the gifts that they asked for - all 357 of them!

Queue emotional response, tears, overwhelmed families whose belief in Santa and Christmas magic is fully restored.


Though it is lovely that WestJet made so much effort in the name of spreading Christmas cheer, was the outcome a Christmas marketing miracle for WestJet as a business? The video was posted on 9th December and on its second day online; the video had received over one million views. These figures have snowballed, and in the run up to Christmas, they show no signs of stopping!

west jet stats

stats from

WestJet's goal was 200,000 - after which they pledged to donate holiday flights to Ronald McDonald House Charities. 31 million views later, it's safe to say that the charity will be receiving those flights. West Jet managed to tick all the boxes with one video: it covered plenty of emotion, it was topical, parts of it were funny and it definitely had that 'feel good' factor. Plus, by showing the WestJet staff rushing around buying and wrapping gifts, it puts faces behind the brand - faces that are completely focused on delivering what their customers asked for. Online users have shown they are glad to spread the Christmas cheer by sharing WestJet's deed with their friends and family, several millions of times.

All we can say, is that the humble man who requested a socks and underwear must really be kicking himself.

Get creative

Viral content can’t be copied or replicated, seeing a similar campaign for the second time simply won't have the same effect. Get creative, think outside of the box and tug on the emotions of your online audience. If you need some creative inspiration for marketing your brand online, chat to us – we have plenty!

Enjoy what you're reading? Then you'll love our blog