Virality: Definition, Formula and How To Achieve It

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 22, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When many consumers see and engage with an organization's products or online posts, the organization can enhance its brand awareness, customer reach and revenue. Having a product or online post rise in popularity rapidly, which some refer to as "going viral," is a common goal for most marketing teams and content creators. Learning about virality and how to achieve it can help you grow a business and its popularity.

In this article, we define virality, share the formula for calculating it, list strategies for achieving virality and offer helpful examples.

What is virality?

Virality is a term that refers to a new video, tool, app, content, product, software program, game or online-based item that generates thousands or millions of views from people who use such products or services. The name comes from its likeness to a virus, referring to the idea's or content's fast spread. In fact, the formula for calculating the spread of a virus is the same as the formula for calculating online virality.

What is the virality formula?

If you want to calculate the time it takes for a new product, app, game, article content or another item to achieve virality, you can use this formula:

C(0) x K = The number of people at the end of the period

Using this formula, "C" represents the number of people you have at the beginning of the period you're measuring. The value "k" represents the number of people at the end of the period. You can determine "k" by multiplying the number of referrals or invitations by the conversion rate of each referral.

Related: 10 Marketing KPIs for Influencers To Track

How to achieve virality

Several factors can contribute to the sharing frequencies of content or advertised goods and services. The following strategies can help you create content with higher odds of going viral:

Create original content

Your first step in achieving virality is to create an original piece of content. While it's possible to gain virality by copying something popular, original content often earns more respect in online spheres. You could offer a new approach or a fresh perspective on something.

For example, you might research competitor products to enhance your own offerings or create new and better-developed versions of things your consumers value. You might also research your market's needs and create a video tutorial with ways that help solve a particular problem in a creative way.

The ultimate goal is to create value. By offering advice, a new perspective, humor, or a fresh idea, you can engage with audiences more effectively. Many people online crave novelty and original ideas. No matter the content you create, brainstorm a creative approach to something that piques the audience's interests and provokes a response.

Related: What Is Viral Marketing? (With Steps for Successful Implementation)

Consider your platform

Social media sharing makes it much easier for ideas and content to spread extremely quickly. Many marketers understand the value of social media marketing and digital content because of its shareability. That said, different strategies can be better for specific platforms.

Consider the type of content that typically goes viral on the platform you're using. Professional networking sites often like useful, practical and valuable advice. Other platforms might like more authenticity, vulnerability and less polished or staged content. Creating content or products with your audience in mind can influence your ability to go viral greatly.

Related: FAQ: How Often Should Businesses Post on Social Media?

Make your content relatable

Making your content relatable to your audience is an essential factor in motivating viewers to share it within their social media networks. For instance, if your target audience comprises parents, you might create a video for parents of young teens highlighting the humorous aspects of raising kids in this age group.

Relatable content works by provoking an emotional response in your viewers, resulting in your audience finding meaning in your content. Making your content relatable can increase the likelihood that your viewers share it.

Related: 25 Do's and Dont's of Social Media for Business

Address a common complaint or interest

To get content to the point of virality, you could also address a common complaint, interest or question that continues to appear in internet searches. For example, you could create a blog post around a growing political concern like the next presidential candidate or an economic question about tax rates. You might structure your content in a way that addresses the topic directly and provides a specific answer.

Related: Social Listening: What It Is, Why It's Important and How To Do It

Create visually appealing content

There's a reason certain videos, graphics and other images achieve virality, and often, it's because they're visually appealing and well-produced. People are often more drawn to visual images than they are to written language because, for many, visual representations are easier to process than written information.

Consider using a variety of visuals like pictures, charts or even short video clips that relate to the content you're producing. Likewise, if you're selling a product, you could use pictures or videos showing how the product works or how it can solve a customer's problem or fulfill a need.

Related: 30 Social Media Content Ideas To Increase Engagement

Discuss current events or popular trends

You can also center your content on current events or trends that are popular in your target market. In the example of a parenting blog, you could introduce popular products or trending advice to your audience. Offering intriguing, valuable and credible information to your audience is important.

Read more: 8 Steps To Create Successful Social Media Marketing Strategies

Virality example

A company manufactures vacuums and has recently developed a new type of wireless vacuum with the same capabilities as a corded vacuum. The company markets and begins selling the wireless product. Achieving virality in this sense might mean the company offers a more efficient design or incorporated full-size features in a smaller product.

As more customers purchase the product and share their satisfaction with how well it performs, they generate additional interest in the product. As the company sells more wireless vacuums, it applies the virality formula to evaluate whether its new model has achieved virality.

The company calculates its virality with the formula:

C(3) x K = The number of customers at the end of the time period, where the time, C(3), represents three months.

Using sales and marketing data, the company determines that there were 325 customers at the beginning of the period who initially purchased the new vacuum products. Then, the company determines that the number of product referrals customers share is 150, and the conversion rate for each product referral is 17%. Using the formula, the company's product virality looks like this:

(325)(3) x (150 x 17%) = 975 x 25.5 = 24,862.5

After calculating its product virality, the company estimates that after three months, the number of customers purchasing the new vacuums amounts to approximately 24,863 people. If the company continues at this rate, executives can expect the popularity of their new wireless vacuums to grow within their target market.


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