Imagine getting thousands of leads, numerous social media followers, and stories about your brand in dozens of top publications, all in a single day!
That’s what happens when your content goes viral on the internet.
When a video goes viral on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or any other social network, it can change lives, uplift businesses, and turn nobodies into celebrities and success stories.
And, if – like most readers here – your goal is to sell online courses, host a successful membership site, or monetize your expertise in any other way, going viral with your content can make all the difference.
We’ve seen this happen to countless people over the years.
But after how many views do you consider content viral? And how do you get those views? Is there a method or science behind going viral?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions in detail and share viral content examples from different social media platforms to help you understand how it works.
Let’s get started.
Over 2.8 million people retweeted it, and hundreds of millions saw it across social networks, digital media platforms, and conventional television channels in just a few days.
This simple Tweet had a massive cultural impact worldwide and led to the mainstreaming of group selfies.
Ellen posted that selfie in March 2014. According to Google Trends, that’s precisely when “group selfies” became a thing.
That’s a classic example of what it means to go viral online.
You usually don’t associate anything positive with the word viral (you know, infections, diseases, etc.).
But in the internet world, everyone wants to go viral.
Because going viral online means your content becomes the talk of the town, gets massive exposure, and spreads like wildfire without you spending a dime on advertising.
People start sharing it with friends, family, and online connections on social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and others.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Viral content makes its way to communication tools like WhatsApp and Slack and forums like Reddit, Quora, and online groups.
And ultimately, in people’s real-world discussions.
In simpler words, you’d consider a piece of content viral when many people voluntarily share it on different online platforms in a very short span of time.
For example, you’ll call a video viral if it gets a million views in a single day. But you won’t consider a video viral if it gets a million visitors in two or three years.
One of the first viral videos ever on the internet was made in 1996, well before YouTube or Facebook existed. It’s called the Dancing Baby, and you’ve probably seen it.
Back then, it floated around people’s email inboxes as an attachment. Everyone loved forwarding it to their peers via email and friends on MSN and Yahoo Groups (old days). Later, it was one of the first videos uploaded to YouTube, and it’s still there.
So, when lots of people see and share a piece of content quickly, you call it viral.
How many people and how quickly? It depends on the platform and audience size. We’ll discuss that later in the article.
From a marketing perspective, you don’t need the kind of global exposure Ellen’s Tweet got to go viral.
Instead, you’ll consider your content viral even if only your target audience enjoys and shares it online. You can also consider content viral if it trends only on a specific platform your audience uses.
Why? Because the internet has become so vast and has so many closed communities, you don’t need the whole world to know about your content to enjoy the benefits of virality.
For example, content going viral on Twitter might perform poorly on Facebook or TikTok. Yet, you’ll consider it viral because hundreds of thousands of people in your target audience are Tweeting it voluntarily.
Similarly, TikTok is an entirely different world in itself. Many Facebook and Twitter users can’t imagine the exposure content gets on TikTok. Yet even the top trending content on TikTok often doesn’t feature on other platforms.
There are completely different worlds closed inside these platforms, with millions of users having unique content consumption habits.
So, when you’re looking to create viral content as a marketer, you must define your target audience and platforms because that’s where your growth comes from.
So, after how many views can you say your content has gone viral? You won’t like the answer, but it’s a big “it depends.”
Let me explain.
Content virality is subjective. While you can confidently say a video or an article is viral if it has a million views in a day, can you say the same about a video with 100k views?
Depends on the platform and the target audience.
Every social media platform is different.
On Twitter, a Tweet with 100K retweets in a day will certainly end up in the top trends and can be called viral.
But on TikTok, 100K is nothing extraordinary because every other creator gets several times more views.
According to Statista, here’s a list of the most viral videos in history across platforms that gained the most views in 24 hours.
As you can see, a video on IQIYI, a Chinese video streaming platform, features at the top of the list with 400 million views in just 24 hours.
No other platform comes close.
So, to understand exactly how many views you need to go viral on social media, we’ll need to look at each platform separately.
Nobody can give you an exact number because going viral is a relative term. But let’s consider TikTok’s audience size, content type, and best-performing content to find the view count range where you can confidently call a video viral.
With over a billion monthly active users and a highly addictive user interface, TikTok is designed for viral content. Its algorithms give your content insane exposure, resulting in millions of views, while its unlimited timeline keeps users glued to their screens for hours.
Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks didn’t consider it a serious competitor a few years ago. But its exponential growth has forced every social network to introduce short videos.
But after how many views would you consider a video viral on TikTok? Let’s analyze the top trending TikTok content to find the answer.
Go to the Discover section in TikTok to see the top trending hashtags on the platform.
Click on the first video under any top trending hashtag and go to the creator’s TikTok profile. There, you can see the number of views on their videos. Note the number of views on their top three videos.
Then repeat this process for 3-4 other top creators using the same hashtag.
This gives you a good idea of how many views the top trending TikTok content gets for a specific hashtag.
Why are we talking about specific hashtags and not the whole TikTok platform?
Most marketers say that a TikTok video with a million views in 1-2 days can be considered viral. If it crosses the 3 to 5 million mark in a week, it’s well and truly viral.
But as a marketer, you must look at the videos going viral in your niche and specific audience segments.
TikTok is a massive platform with millions of users. But its users only follow the content relevant to their interests.
When TikTok creators publish videos, they use relevant hashtags to make it easier for their audience to find them. The hashtags that are most frequently used by the creators make it to the top trending hashtags list.
And from there, the content with the most views for a hashtag gets the top position and often goes viral.
So, by analyzing the trending videos for your hashtags, you can determine the number of views you need to go viral.
Here are a few jaw-dropping viral content examples from TikTok.
Example #1: Duolingo
🎅He sees you when you're sleeping He knows when you're awake 🎄 He knows if you've been bad or good So do your lesson for goodness sake👹👹👹 ♬ オリジナル楽曲 - 設定せぶん
Example #2: Chipotle
@chipotle easy summer #mocktails pt. 1 🍉 #drinks #recipe #watermelon ♬ original sound - Chipotle
With 2.6 billion monthly active users, YouTube is still one of the best online platforms for publishing viral content.
Its massive audience size and longer videos mean your viewers don’t infinitely scroll like TikTok and have more time to watch your content.
This list of the most-watched YouTube videos gives you an idea of the platform’s potential reach.
Most parents won’t be surprised to see Baby Shark top the list with 12 billion views.
However, content doesn’t go viral on YouTube as frequently as TikTok because it has evolved into an alternate media source for long-form content where the viewers watch movies, shows, video podcasts, and other video types.
Established YouTube channels can easily get over 100K views on a new video in a single day. But to go viral and feature in the top trending videos list, a YouTube video should have 2-3 million views in 1-2 days. But globally, viral videos usually get over 10-20 million views in a week.
To get an idea of how many views the most viral YouTube videos get, open your YouTube app and go to the trending section.
YouTube shows different trending videos for every country. So, depending on your country’s YouTube user base and content preferences, you’ll see different trending lists.
Here are some of the most epic YouTube viral video examples.
Example #1: Mr. Beast
Example #2: Red Bull’s “Space Jump”
YouTube introduced Shorts, seeing the success of short-form video content on TikTok. Unsurprisingly, it has become YouTube’s most engaging and in-demand content format, getting millions of monthly views and significantly higher reach than regular long-from YouTube videos.
YouTube shows Shorts in its regular search results and promotes them in user timelines and related videos.
Thanks to YouTube’s massive audience, Shorts are an instant hit, resulting in more viral videos than ever.
But how many views are considered viral on YouTube Shorts?
Again, we can’t have an exact number, but generally, Shorts get more views than regular YouTube videos. So, a video must have at least 2-3 million views in a week to be considered viral.
Specifically, check the Shorts in your niche and see how much traction your competitors get with this format.
Here are a few examples of viral YouTube Shorts with millions of views.
Example #1: Car Cleaning
Example #2: Big Mac
Instagram was the first truly visual content platform where creators posted high-resolution images and short videos, well before TikTok, Snapchat, or any other social network.
It is also the platform where influencer marketing became a multi-million-dollar industry.
Despite the competition from new platforms, Instagram is still going strong, with over 1.2 billion monthly users.
So, how many views are considered viral on Instagram? Instagram hosts short-form videos with an unlimited scroll feature like TikTok, so a viral video must get 2-3 million views weekly.
Plus, users can seamlessly share Instagram videos on Facebook since they’re owned by the same company Meta, and easily integrate.
You can go to the Explore section in your Instagram app to find your region’s top trending videos and images.
Here are some of the most viral Instagram videos.
Example #1: Lady Gaga’s Tattoo
Example #2: One Word – Happiness
Facebook isn’t growing as fast as it used to and has lost some of its user base to newer social platforms. However, with nearly 3 billion monthly active users, it is still the world’s most widely used social network.
Over the last few years, Facebook has aggressively pushed video content on its user timelines and encouraged people to post more videos.
As a result, video is the most popular content format on the platform.
But how many views are viral on Facebook? With Facebook’s active audience size, any video must get 3-5 million views in a week to be considered viral.
However, your content can feature in the top trending videos if it gets a few hundred thousand views within hours.
Here are a few examples of viral Facebook videos
Example#1: Cutting Hair With A Sword
Example #2: The Ring
Reels are short-form TikTok-style videos on Instagram and Facebook.
They use the same unlimited scroll timeline as TikTok and YouTube Shorts and are perfect for creating viral content.
Reels work on both Instagram and Facebook. However, Facebook Reels can be as long as 150 seconds, while Instagram Reels are limited to 60 seconds only.
So, how many views are considered viral on Reels? Again, there’s no fixed number. But considering Facebook and Instagram’s popularity and active user base, plus the addictive nature of Reels, you’ll need at least 3-4 million views in a week to consider a video viral.
Here are examples of viral Reels.
Example #1: Khaby
Twitter isn’t a dedicated video platform like YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok. But it is still among the top social networks, with millions of users watching Twitter videos for countless hours.
However, viral Twitter videos don’t have the same reach as the other platforms we’ve discussed.
So, how many views are viral on Twitter? Any video with 500K to 1 million views in a week is considered viral on Twitter. Viral text Tweets get anywhere between 300K to 500K RTs and Likes.
Here are some of the most viral Tweets ever.
Next I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 28, 2022
HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS pic.twitter.com/4SrfHmEMo3— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) April 6, 2017
You’ve seen all the examples of viral content we’ve shared from different social networks. They’re completely unrelated to each other. Yet, they all have a few common qualities.
If you want your content to go viral, make sure it has the following traits.
Most viral videos shock the viewers with something completely unexpected. It can be positive or negative, but it should contain something that the viewer isn’t expecting to happen.
There’s a reason why cat videos and pranks regularly feature in viral video lists. If you want people to share your content, it must entertain so much they want their friends to look at it.
Videos with strong emotions (happiness, anger, delight, fun, etc.) often end up going viral because they align with people’s feelings. People share such content because it allows them to express themselves.
There’s a reason why Boomers share so many photoshopped images and AI-generated videos that show extraordinary events or things. They feel they must tell the world about this remarkable event (that never happened). We all feel that way. But the more tech-savvy instantly recognize when a video is too good to be true. Either way, if you want your content to go viral, cover an extraordinary event, or do something everyone considers impossible.
People instinctively share viral content when their emotions are triggered or they feel their friends would love it. But that only happens when the content itself is easy to understand. This is why TikTok, Shorts, and Reels are so successful. They’re full of content that you don’t need to think about. Just watch and enjoy.
For most creators, viral content happens by accident.
But most studies show there’s some science behind videos going viral on the internet. So, if you want to go viral on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or any other platform, here are a few tips to remember.
TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are separate social media platforms with different audience demographics, preferences, content types, and algorithms.
You can’t use the same content on them and expect it to go viral. Instead, you must understand a platform’s dynamics and your audience’s needs to see what works.
For example, what works on YouTube rarely works on Twitter. Similarly, your content on TikTok appeals to an entirely different generation from Facebook.
So, before trying to go viral on a platform, carefully analyze its dynamics to build your strategy.
Every social network is a unique world with its own trends. To go viral on a platform, you must create content accordingly.
The easiest way to do this is by tracking the top trending hashtags on a platform, analyzing the best-performing content, and creating similar content.
Your content has a much higher chance of going viral if you have a million followers than someone with zero connections.
So, build a consistent brand voice on your chosen platforms, and grow a dedicated following that willingly shares your content and spreads the word about it.
Closely analyze your best-performing posts and how the audience interacts with your content. Amplify your best posts and double down on the same style of content.
Whether you’re an online course seller, a coach, a consultant, or a digital product creator, understanding how content goes viral helps your business in many ways.
Viral content increases your brand awareness and helps you grow your online audience. Many course sellers use TikTok and Youtube Shorts to create bite-sized lessons that help their audience with quick fixes. This top-of-the-funnel content strategy helps them drive more traffic to their main channels and connect with relevant prospects.
Viral content can be an excellent source of leads for your eLearning business. If you optimize your marketing funnel by setting up a high-conversion landing page, offering a lead magnet, and configuring email sequences to convert traffic into leads, viral content can drive thousands of leads and hundreds of customers for your courses and digital products.
People instantly trust creators whose content gets hundreds of thousands of visitors. This is a classic example of Halo Effect where people start considering you an expert because your content regularly goes viral. Use this to your advantage by converting them into leads and customers.
Viral content gets millions of views. As a result, it also gives you insightful data of millions of users worldwide. You can use audience analytics to understand user preferences and create tailored products that appeal to specific segments of your viewers and help you drive more sales.
Yes! Viral content brings numerous visitors to your site and helps you fill your sales pipeline. If your aim is to monetize your expertise, then viral content can make a huge difference in making your potential customers aware of you. And, even if you don’t achieve your viral goals, just going through the process of shooting for viral content is almost certqain to increase your understanding of your audience.
All that said, you don’t need a huge global audience to go viral. It’s enough if your target audience likes your content, shares it with its online connections and spreads the word about your brand. Because ultimately, the number of views on a piece of content only matters if it drives sales for your business.
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