Categories: Content Marketing, UGC

Consumer vs. Branded Viral Content, Is there a Difference?

Categories: Content Marketing, UGC

Consumer vs. Branded Viral Content, Is there a Difference?

Oct 22, 2014

We recently ran a story about how brands can increase their odds of creating viral content; it’s a great story. It’s so great that it got me to thinking: how are the tips in that story different from the tips I might offer to consumers trying to make viral content of their own? Well, let’s see…

First, What is Viral Content?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to generate a viral piece of content? And no, I don’t mean something that’s medically contagious…


I’m talking about that one video which gets played by everyone in the office, or at least by that one hipster who knows every viral video ever created.

Well, there isn’t exactly one formula that will get you there, but the following five tips to viral content could help you get started!


5 Consumer Tips for Increasing Odds of Creating Viral Content

Consumer Viral Content Tip #1 – Create the Right Content

If you look at the various popular videos and images on the web, you’ll notice that some of the most famous pieces of content revolve around a few topics: kids, talent, pets, crazy, offensive, and of course, adult. Does this mean you’re stuck with making a video of a cute child/baby or cat/dog?

Of course not! You have many options. Let’s break down the basics: If it’s cute, then you have to take a picture or video of it immediately. The same goes for funny. If you can get cute and funny together, you might hit the jackpot.

The easy part about generating cute content is that if you have a cute kid or pet, cuteness will always be there for content creation…just ask Maru:

Funny content, on the other hand, seems to be more spontaneous, and is usually turned into content accidentally. Unless you’re a natural comedian or an actor, you might want to skip this one.

The plan for most teenagers seems to be: “Is this cool? Do I look cool? Then I need to take a picture ASAP!” Ah yes, the “selfie” is born:

Does this tip work for both consumers and brands? More or less – YES! Just like a consumer, a brand needs to think about their audience. Brands think about what types of content their consumers will find interesting and incorporate similar themes.

Consumer Viral Content Tip #2 – Choose the Right Device for Creating Content

Back in the day before modern technology, if you wanted real content, you had to hire a portrait painter and sit for a while as they painted. And, sharing content was limited to parties where you hung your piece of content on some wall and talked about it.

Now, with technology, you’ve got random painted fingernails visible to everyone in the world, with comments, and maybe even product tie-ins ( see Sephora Beauty Board, powered by Thismoment Content Cloud). Any smartphone capable of taking an image can create content.

As long as you can capture a moment in time with a device, then that device works for content generation. Any device that can record an image, video or sound will work for creating content. Most devices are optimized to make the creation of internet-friendly content easy. What changes between the devices is usually the quality of the capturing and storing technology and how the device transfers the content to other places.

Does this tip work for brands? Yes, absolutely. Now, more than ever, brands are creating content using the same devices consumers do. There was a time when a brand needed to spend thousands of dollars to create a video. These days, we see them creating content through the same means as you or I would. At times, more professional equipment is needed; most brands learn to know the difference and create accordingly.

Consumer Viral Content Tip #3 – Choose Where to Upload Your Content

Now that you have content, you need to make it publicly available, or in other words, put it on the Internet for others to find. Social networks are usually a great start. The amount of sharing and re-sharing that goes on inside of these interactive networks is insane. Yes, you can just make a website for yourself these days and host your pictures and video there… but seriously, who does that? You need to alert every single person you know about your fresh new content, and it has to make a lasting impression! Again, social networks are pretty much built for this nowadays. Go ahead and join Facebook, or Youtube, or Instagram, or Twitter, or Ello or…

MySpace, anyone?


…and upload as much content as humanly possible. This is where it will be scraped, tagged, #hashtagged, mentioned, and pretty much hooked into the matrix of web content, ready to be found by anyone, and anything. That, or you can wait around for Google to index your website. It shouldn’t take too long… hang in there.

Does this tip work for brands? Yes; today more than ever. The list of places a brand can distribute content is long and expanding every day. As that lists grows, brands will need to get better and better about deciding where each piece of content will perform best.

Consumer Viral Content Tip #4 – Choose Promotion Strategy

Ok, so you’ve created, captured, and uploaded your content to social media. What do you do now? Here’s one idea: Throw an amazing party in a mystery town centered on your content.

Oh, you don’t have millions of dollars? Maybe you can blog about it? Tell some friends, write some emails or hire a promoter. There are no shortcuts with promoting your content, unless you either have the advertising capital or your content is seriously, seriously viral. In which case, it will promote itself once it hits social media.

Also, make it a point to read and re-read this great article on promoting your content by KISSMetrics.

Does this tip work for brands? Yes. These days the “post it and they will come” strategy simply doesn’t work. Just like consumers, brands need to carefully strategize how they will drive traffic to their content.

Consumer Viral Content Tip #5 – With a Little Luck, Go Viral

So you’ve promoted the heck out of your content and your potato is ready to go viral.


Ok…a viral potato kind of sounds gross, and unfortunately, there is not much extra you can do at this point unless your content is actually viral-worthy. I could add tons of links to advice found all over the internet on the subject (like this article from the Huffington Post), but the best advice is to not get carried away trying to force your content into something it’s not. Just have fun creating, sharing, tweeting, tagging, putting it on social media and content clouds, and the rest is up to the general public.

Does this tip work for brands? Yes. Just like you, brands need a little luck in order for their content to “go viral.” Since there’s no way to generate luck, I suggest rubbing a rabbit’s foot, crossing your fingers, saying a little prayer, or simply thinking positive thoughts. Who knows, it could work.

So there you have it! 5 tips for consumers, and as you can see, all of them are also relevant for brands. Viral content is viral content, no matter who’s creating it!

Jeff Poyzner
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