Here’s how to let your brand go viral

The Principles of Contagiousness

You might have heard or experienced yourself that is challenging for you to cease that automatic reaction of yawning due to yawns are so contagious. But what about brands? Let me introduce you the main concept of Jonah Berger’s principles of contagiousness or in short, known as STEPPS, it consists of 6 strategies that companies can consider in order to ensure that their brand or products will go viral.


(Aleti, 2018)

1. Social Currency

There’s no such thing as a free lunch on earth? Think again. Back to the days of 2012, Kellogg’s had set up its first-ever Special K’s pop-up store in London where their customer mode of purchase for Special K Cracker Crisps was simply by a tweet. This simple yet successful campaign strategy had attracted tons of positive reaction and attention from the public and media sides due to Kellogg being the initial company to adopt the usage of social currency.

(YouTube, 2012)

Kellogg leverage on the lucrative opportunity of the uprising healthy lifestyle trend by placing great emphasis on the low calories as to promote Special K Cracker Crisps as the healthy choice of snacks which came in at under 100 calories per packet.  Besides, Kellogg used Twitter as a platform to gain public brand awareness by encouraging their customer to tweet in exchange for a packet of snack.


(Hall, 2018)

This simple marketing tactic actually worked since internet users love to share things with their online peers as to make them look intelligent on social media. As for Kellogg, due to the nature of Special K Cracker Crisps as a wholesome brand, internet users started to retweet and responded as they wished to affiliate themselves as someone who was health-conscious about their diet.


(Sukhraj, 2018)

Besides, word of mouth marketing is an important and easy way to create brand awareness due to the snowballing effect. For instance, the user interactions of Special K Cracker Crisps had increased drastically due to positive word of mouth spread by Kellogg’s customers on Twitter. This had greatly contributed to the overall success of the campaign.

2. Triggers

Remember the time where the Ice Bucket Challenge became a viral internet sensation? The Ice Bucket Challenge was originated on Facebook to increase the public awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease. In short, the nominee for Ice Bucket Challenge has to drench themselves with a bucket of ice water over their head or to contribute $100 to the ALS Association to help those patients that were diagnosed with ALS.

Prominent celebrities who participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge include Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham and Bill Gates. These celebrities were the perfect triggers to increase the awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease due to their popularity and influential power.

(YouTube, 2014)


(Alexander, 2016)

This environmental stimuli strategy is all about the “Top of Mind, Tip of Tongue”. For instance, the fans of Victoria Beckham were more likely to remember the videos of her completing the Ice Bucket Challenge which would generally lead them to gossip or discussed it. In this case, Victoria Beckham‘s fans became aware of Lou Gehrig’s disease as they associated “Victoria Beckham” with the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.

3. Emotion

Get ready Singaporean, because Isaac Toast had recently announced that they will open its first ever outlet in Singapore! I believe that most of you had seen a lot of people discussing or retweeting about the famous Korean breakfast brand – Isaac Toast. But why do people share this kind of information?

Internet users shared this piece of news as they were feeling enthusiastic about the launch due to a high level of arousal hence they wanted more people to know about it. Emotion does play a huge part in driving us to share things with others on social media platforms. According to Jonah Berger, people are more likely to share or react to an advertisement when they experience a high level of arousals such as excitement, amusement, anger or anxiety. Conversely, an advertisement that leads to a low level of arousals such as contentment and sadness would deter one from sharing or taking further actions.

Excitement – A print advertisement for Volkswagen

Marketers came up with this creative print advertisement (below) for the latest VW Das Auto. This type of print advertisement promotes and instil thrills, excitement and adventure in those drivers as the contents clearly convey that this model allows rapid acceleration on the road.


(Gross, 2018)

Amusement – A print advertisement for Sta-soft

Marketers came up with this new series of humorous print advertisements (below) with a tagline of “Softens even the toughest” for their latest fabric conditioners which consist of men portraits that were made up of cloths. The benefits of using humour in advertisements are that it tends to have a higher recall among people.

(Rogers and Tryon, 2018)

4. Public

Conformity is a strong social influence that makes people more likely to imitate or behave in the same way as others especially in situations where one does not know how to properly react. And the reasons for doing so? People conform because of social pressure or they want to seek opinions from someone that they look up upon to. Besides, most people tend to have the fear of losing out mentality (FOMO) thus this group of people will more likely to imitate others such as purchasing the same Michael Kors watches as everyone does.


(Swayne, 2014)

5. Practical Value

Internet users tend to share information that is effective and beneficial such as sharing of worthy news, interesting recipes and even makeup tips to others. For instance, BONOBOS is one of the men fashion labels that delivers practical values as the brand provides personalized styling tips to their customers such as tie selection and colour pairing guideline.


(Hum, 2015)

In BONOBOS, every man could dress up confidently to impress others since BONOBOS will offer personal styling services from head to toes. Besides, this type of service makes it convenient for busy white workers who do not have time to keep up with the latest fashion trends or to those that simply do not know how to pick the right outfit for various occasions. Hence, with this incredible value and benefits, BONOBOS had successfully appealed and promoted sharing among the male internet users.



(BONOBOS, 2018)

6. Stories

Everyone loves to listen to a great story. Storytelling is much powerful and easier to remember since human is emotional beings. A great story will help to capture the attention of its target customer among the clutter of competitor advertisement.

“In the digital age, we are being flooded with information. And to manage all this excess inflow? The brain uses neurological shortcuts called somatic markers. Somatic markers associate an emotion with a seemingly inanimate thing. The emotion is what makes it powerful.”  – Kristen Lamb

(Skrabanek, 2017)


(, 2017)

TOMS is well-known for their one for one donation to those underprivileged people. The concept behind it was that for every pair of shoes sold, TOMS would donate the same pair to one of the underprivileged. It is one of the few footwear brands that successfully make it brand and products go viral by establishing a strong connection with its customer through storytelling. For instance, the company uses videos to share more with its customer about their corporate mission and social commitment through social media platforms. As a result, people will tend to spread about the company after watching the videos due to the emotional impact of the content.

Besides in the year 2016, TOMS had successfully engaged 3.5 million internet users in just a day of its campaign with 62 million impressions on all social media platforms. This had proven that stories are a powerful tool to makes a brand go viral.



(, 2018)


A successful idea or campaign does not necessarily need to apply all of the 6 strategies of STEPPS, but to choose wisely is good for the growth of the company such as increasing of their brand awareness and loyalty. If you enjoy this article or have any suggestions, feel free to subscribe and leave me a comment below!


95 thoughts on “Here’s how to let your brand go viral

  1. vincenttan1996 says:

    I can’t believe that you actually know about BONOBOS ! It is one of my all time fav fashion label and yes, I really think that BONOBOS is so useful and convenience especially for guy like me who doesn’t really know how to dress up well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne Audrey Tan says:

      You are absolutely right! BONOBOS is really a great retail platform for men where the staff would tailor your style according to clothes that fit you and your occasion. Hope that you’ll continue enjoy shopping at BONOBOS and do stay tune for my upcoming posts 🙂


  2. russellogy says:

    I really think, this a good content for up coming biz. We know the value of going viral and by going viral it is something you can’t put a price on. Furthermore, It teaches you step by step on making content going viral. I would recommend this to biz, who wants to know more abut digital marketing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joanne Audrey Tan says:

      Yes, the principle of contagious is definitely a great method for companies to make their brands go viral especially for those start-up ! Stay tune for more!


  3. CJH says:

    A good article with relevant and interesting examples that fully demonstrates the crucial elements of viral marketing! This is easy to understand and absorb.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. matongmatong says:

    Great entry you have over here! I agree that word of mouth is a key strategie in marketing your brand. People tends to believe in friends recommendation as trust is between them whereas brand advertisement can be too good to be true. For instance, there might be hidden flaws which can’t be foreseen. However, if a friend had used the particular product, they had already experienced what the product was like. In conclusion, I feel that it also depends on personal experience to justify whether a brand’s product is good or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joanne Audrey Tan says:

      Yes, that’s absolutely right! According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers including me believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. Stay tune for more interesting topics!


    • Joanne Audrey Tan says:

      Thanks for the compliment! Anyway in regard to the informations that you had gladly provided above, I will check it out soon! Cheers!


  5. aliciawulansari says:

    Such a clear cut and great writeup. It gives full information on making the brands go viral. And yes I do agree on the above. It is like different avenues to advertise products, playing one’s mindset and idea of it as well as personality.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joanne Audrey Tan says:

      Thank you! I hope that you had enjoyed reading my articles so far, I will continue to bring various kind of digital marketing topics to you all! Stay tune 🙂


    • Joanne Audrey Tan says:

      Thanks for your compliments. I am really glad that you had enjoyed and benefited well from my article. Do stay tune for upcoming articles! 🙂


  6. Steve Dalton says:

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    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sugyan Swain says:

    Thank you for your useful tips,It has been a long time people are now aware about the technology so at the same time the technology is also going vast day by day.In the duration of the time Sar Software has introduced lots of tactics for the digital marketing and website development .It is one of the leading company in India.As far it is concern for the customers need.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. callsmasterservices says:

    Nice work. It’s great to read content from someone who actually has something to say – rather than content that feels like it’s just there for the sake of being there.


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