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Going viral. You may have heard the phrase in passing but if you’re not 100% sure what it means, we’re here to make things a little clearer. In this article, we’ll explain what going viral actually means and show you a few examples where something small has grown rapidly, spreading like wildfire across the world; even things stemming from smaller locations such as the recent events that took place in our home county of Shropshire.

What It Means To Go Viral How It Can Affect Your Business

So what is “going viral”?

Firstly, it often involves social media. Think about your own social accounts and the number of friends or followers you have. Whenever you post something, the large majority of those people will see it.

Now imagine each of those people sharing that same thing with their own friends and followers, and so on and so forth. Within no time, a piece of content can reach thousands of people from countries all over the world with everyone talking about it simultaneously. In a way it’s very similar to a trending topic on Twitter, except that viral content can be found across all online platforms, including YouTube videos.

Going viral can be a very difficult thing to engineer. It can be achieved, but it requires a lot of originality and creativity.

On the other hand, without any premeditation or intention, a business can go viral by pure chance. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Examples of “going viral”


Back in 2014, women across the country took to Facebook and Twitter, posting bare-faced photos of themselves accompanied by the hashtag #NoMakeupSelfie. At the same time, they pledged to make a donation to Cancer Research UK (with, apparently, no pre-planning by the charity itself) and nominated a number of their online friends to repeat the same process.

As each person nominated another, word spread and soon ‘no makeup selfies’ were cropping up all over the place. By the end, it was reported that the charity had received more than £8m in donations, all because of the campaign’s popularity.


Sometimes, a viral post can stem from something so small and simple. Take #TheDress as an example. It all started with two people debating over the colour of one dress; was it white and gold, or was it blue and black?


In an attempt to settle the argument, the picture was eventually posted to social media, where users were asked to offer their own opinions on the colour. But no one could agree on a definitive answer.

In no time, this one picture had been shared across the internet and, within a few hours, everyone was talking about it; even A-list celebrities were commenting on what colours they saw.

The real winners here? Roman Originals, the designers of the dress. Once they became aware of what was happening, they took full advantage of it, posting about it across their own social media platforms, featuring it on the front page of their website and holding competitions for people to win the dress.

You can bet they probably made a few more sales than usual that day. The dress was even appearing in their high street shop windows before the day was out.

All this, just from a small disagreement between two people.

Shropshire’s viral experience

This one took place recently in our very own hometown of Shrewsbury.

Frank Charles, a man cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in order to raise money for charity, was searching for accommodation. A local man assisted in his search and escorted him to a hotel where he was unfortunately met with a rather rude reception and subsequently turned away.

Disheartened, Frank departed to continue his search elsewhere, leaving the local man astounded at the situation.

In order to voice his disgust about the hotel’s attitude, the local man took to Facebook, retelling the sequence of events to his online friends. Similarly disgusted, those people shared the post and, soon, word spread.

Appalled at the way he had been treated by a local business, residents were determined to find Frank and provide him with accommodation.

In the mean time, Frank had found somewhere to rest for the night in Shrewsbury’s Ferndell Bed and Breakfast and, when residents became aware of where he was, he was showered with messages of support, donations and even the cost to cover his room that night.

All because of one simple Facebook post.

How can it affect your business?

It sounds great, right? But beware. In this case, all publicity isn’t necessarily good publicity and going viral can potentially be extremely damaging for a business.

Take the above example, for instance. The first hotel that Frank tried will forever have a negative reputation in the eyes of local residents here in Shrewsbury. That same day, the hotel’s Facebook and Trip Advisor pages were inundated with hundreds of bad reviews from people all over the world; so much so, it even appears the hotel has subsequently deleted their Facebook page.

But when it’s positive, going viral can be the best thing that’s ever happened to a business:

  • It certainly increases your brand awareness amongst people who may not otherwise have known about you
  • It can increase your sales, particularly if there are products involved within the viral post itself
  • You may see a spike in your website traffic as people try to find out more about your company
  • You may even notice a whole bunch of new, natural links pointing back to your website – and we all know how much Google loves those, right?
  • And if you’re really successful, you could even see your brand name mentioned in large online news communities such as Buzzfeed and Mashable, both of which report on current, trending topics

So now you’re in the know, why not get creative and see if your business can go viral?

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