Decoding The Psychology Behind Viral Marketing Campaigns

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Marketing | 0 comments

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I remember I was watching TV and I saw this ad.

(Yes, some of us still watch TV.)

This ad was from a fintech company called CRED (I use it as well) and in the ad, there was this famous cricketer who had anger issues.

The funny thing?

In real life, the cricketer, he is a very cool guy. Chill guy.

(How couldn’t he be when he shares the same name as me?)

But when I saw the ad?

I was like… WTF have they created?

And how did he even agree to this?

(Money is a powerful motivator, my friend!)

The next thing you know?

It’s trending on Twitter. News channels. Meme pages. Reels. Everywhere.

Now, most people think that viral marketing campaigns are all about being share-worthy.

🤔 But what makes them share-worthy?

Why would anybody wanna share a marketing campaign?

There’s no single element to it.


But there are various psychological principles that influence people’s behavior.

Want to create campaigns that are more likely to be shared and remembered by your target audience?

Understand and leverage these psychological principles.

What psychological principles?


🤩 Emotion and Arousal

(Not the way you’re thinking 🍆)

People are more likely to remember and share content that elicits strong emotions.

Emotions such as joy, surprise, anger, or awe.

Wanna increase the likelihood of your campaign going viral?

Create a campaign that taps into these emotions.

Take them on a rollercoaster ride.

😯 Novelty and Surprise

(This was the primary element in the Fintech ad campaign)

People are also more likely to share content that is novel or surprising.

Novelty and surprise grab people’s attention and make them more likely to remember and share content with others.

This is why campaigns that use unexpected or unusual visuals, or that put a new spin on a familiar idea, are often more successful than those that are predictable or boring.

It also uses the psychology of pattern interruption.

People are so bored of seeing the same predictable things that when they see something unexpected it easily catches their attention and stays in their minds.

🙋🏻‍♂️ Self-identity and Belonging

People also tend to share content that reflects their own self-identity or that helps them feel like they belong to a certain group.

This is why campaigns that tap into people’s sense of identity or that encourage them to feel part of a community are often successful.

For example, a campaign that encourages people to show support for a certain cause.

Or that plays on their sense of nostalgia or cultural identity is likely to be more successful.

🤝 Social Proof

People tend to look to others for guidance when they are uncertain about what to do.

And they are more likely to share content if they see that others have already done so.

The bandwagon effect.

This is also why you often see campaigns that highlight the number of shares or likes a piece of content has received.

🫂 Influence of Peer Pressure

I’m telling ya, it’s real.

People are more likely to share content if they feel that their friends or peers will approve of it.

This is why campaigns that encourage people to tag their friends or share content with specific groups are often successful.

By tapping into people’s desire for social approval, you can increase the likelihood that your content will be shared and remembered by a wider audience.

But… as always…

🧠 Keep in Mind

You don’t need to have ALL these elements in your campaign.

Have those that fit best with it.

And, most importantly…

There is NO FORMULA for going viral.

You cannot predict virality and nobody can promise it to you when it comes to marketing campaigns.

What you can do?

Increase the likelihood of going viral by tapping into these psychological elements to influence human behavior.

Found this article helpful?

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Rahul Choudhary

Rahul Choudhary

Founder, Beef Up Media

With almost 6 whole years of experience in the online marketing world, I’ve seen most – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

My goal?

Try to share as much of my knowledge & experience as possible.

Don’t forget to connect with me on social media. ↓

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