A Guide to Creating Viral Content for Social Media

Creating viral content – positive viral content – is one of the best ways to get your brand known – and known fast. In the best of worlds, viral content will inspire people to purchase your goods and services. 

It’s hard to figure out what goes viral, and what doesn’t. Sometimes, the people who try the hardest fail the most. They invest too much time and money into a video or meme that ends up looking over-produced, and overproduction usually doesn’t trend.

One tv company spent thousands on trying to get trained pets to re-enact famous scenes from movies. For example, they paid three dogs to recreate the scene in the Godfather when Michael Correleane shoots an enemy in a restaurant. It was funny. But it didn’t go viral. In fact, it didn’t even get any more engagement than their usual posts. 

Going viral can catapult your message, brand, or product into the spotlight, reaching millions of users in a few hours or days.

One example of a small company that created simple videos that became huge hits is Peachy BBs Slime. Ask anyone under 10 and their parents. They’ll know this brand because of their YouTube and Tik Tok videos. The videos show the creator making slime. Kim and North Kardashian shared the videos and voila – Peachy BBs now has  4.7 million followers.

Just make sure you go viral with videos you want to share, and not mistakes that are PR disasters. Here’s an example. Bare Air-free posted a series of tweets that  implied that their bottles could free mothers from nursing every few hours. The  tweets told men to “reclaim your wife.” That didn’t go so well.

So here are some best practices to keep in mind when trying to create viral content. 



One of the quickest ways to create viral content is to capitalize on trending hashtags and trending Google searches. Then use them in your social media posts. Just make sure the trends are somewhat relevant to your niche or industry.  To find Google Trends, visit the Google Trends dashboard. X, formerly known as Twitter, shows you trending hashtags on the right side of your feed. On Instagram, type a keyword related to your niche or post in the search bar and hit the search icon. Click on the “Tags” tab at the top of the screen to see all of the relevant hashtags. Look through the list of hashtags to see which ones are being used the most. Then create content and end the post with those hashtags. 

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User-Generated Content

Your customers are funnier than you think. And often funny videos are what goes viral. So there may be a chance that your customers are creating User-generated content (UGC) and posting it to social media. One of their posts, especially if it’s funny, may take off. Make sure you search your company’s name on social media, and repost or retweet any USG that is positive, and created by your customers. To encourage UGS, hold contests, challenges, or campaigns that motivate your users to create and post videos, memes or images of your products. Remind them to use your company name as a hashtag. Offer a small prize to the winner. 


How-To Videos

How-to guides, especially video tutorials, help your followers solve a problem or learn something new. Often, these are presented on social media as life hacks. Flex your creativity here. If you own a rare coin store for example, you could create a video about how taping a coin to the inside of the skirt can prevent it from blowing up in the wind. Obviously, you wouldn’t use a rare coin to do this. But it can get people familiar with your store’s name. If you own a craft supply store, or sell craft supplies, search for #fiveminutecrafts. These videos are wildly popular. Make the videos shoppable so people can buy supplies from you right after watching the videos. 


Behind-the-Scenes Content

People love getting a peek behind the curtain of businesses or product development. These videos are especially big on TikTok. Do you offer construction related goods or services? Film a project, like a house being rehabbed. Speed up the video so the process is really fast. You can use simple editors and even YouTube to do this. Post that video on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and X. Tag it with your business name. Who knows what may happen? 

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Inspirational Content

If your goods or services have changed people’s lives, let others know. Don’t underestimate the power of your goods and services to improve mental health. Yoga studio owner? Yoga has saved many people from the depths of depression and abuse. So have life coaches and therapists. Medical products have literally saved people’s lives. If you can get someone on camera, or even a photo of a person with a quote about how your business saved them, do it.  


Funny Memes

Memes rule social media. They are easily shareable and can have a huge impact. You can create a meme easily on a variety of websites. All you need is a photo and the right words. The click through rate of a meme is 14% higher than that of an email newsletter. One study found that young people look at around 30 memes a day.

Businesses that have used memes effectively include Netflix (to promote shows), Dominoes and Purity Coffee. Purity Coffee does a particularly good job seizing cultural moments, like a video of Taylor Swift at a football game, and writing text over the video to promote sales. 



You can create or participate in popular social media challenges within your niche to boost your visibility. Do you offer dance classes? Film yourself doing a dance challenge on TikTok. Do you sell buckets? Get in on the water bucket challenge. You can even start your own  photo challenge on Instagram, or a hashtag trend on Twitter. Just be mindful of safety. Some challenges have gone horribly wrong, and resulted in disasters. 

social media challenges

TikTok or YouTube? 

These three platforms are the most prominent in the world of video sharing. Each of them has its own niche audience and overall presence.


TikTok allows users to post short, creative videos that range from 15 to 60 seconds. Currently, the average age range using TikTok is 18-24. TikTok features videos about fashion trends, comedy, cooking hacks, and everything in between. This is a great platform to use if you are aiming your content towards a younger, trendier audience. 


YouTube also has a wide range of content for viewers to watch. YouTube allows videos that are anywhere from 1 second to 15 minutes. This is a great amount of time for content that requires detailed, step-by-step instructions. The average age of YouTube users is 15-35. 37% of viral traffic belongs to YouTube, making them a great place to post video content.


How to Create Viral Content

Creating viral content can be tricky. You need to strike the right tone, and it must be a strong tone. If it’s funny, it must be LOL funny. If it’s inspirational, you want to make eyes well up with tears. If you want to do something clever, it has to make light bulbs go off (figuratively) above a person’s head.

At the same time, viral content shouldn’t feel overproduced. It’s not a TV commercial. It needs to feel more genuine.

Third party digital marketers, like us at SEO Design Chicago, are experts in setting tone and thinking creatively. We’re also tech whizzes. Some software used to create and edit videos and memes can be tricky to learn. For example, unless you have a lot of time, it will be hard to use advanced video editing software like Premiere or Final Cut.

If you do want to DIY, check out Canva. Canva, especially their Pro version (which costs $100 per year) has amazing templates for all social media platforms, a video editor, a photo collage editor and a meme maker. 

Canva is fast, and their pro level allows you to resize one piece of content for different social media platforms. Here’s the thing – easy tools doesn’t mean you can produce great content. Unless you are creative and love technology, it may be in your best interest to let us handle your social media content creation needs. We’ll also provide you regular reports so you can see if what we’re doing is working or not. 

We have hundreds of satisfied customers that we’ve helped with everything from social media content creation, to website migration to SEO analysis to paid advertising strategies.  Reach out to us through our contact form or by calling us and we’ll explain our services. 

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