Viral Video

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What is a Viral Video?

The viral video definition is any clip of animation or film that is spread rapidly through online sharing. Viral videos can receive millions of views as they are shared on social media sites, reposted to blogs, sent in emails, and so on. Most viral videos contain humor and fall into three broad categories:

  • Unintentional Viral Videos: Videos that the creators never intended to go viral. These videos may have been posted by the creator or shared with friends, who then spread the content.
  • Humorous Viral Videos: Videos that have been created specifically to entertain people. If a video is funny enough, it will spread.
  • Promotional Viral videos: Videos that are designed to go viral with a marketing message to raise brand awareness. Promotional viral videos fall under viral marketing practices.

Techopedia Explains the Viral Video Meaning

Techopedia Explains the Viral Video Meaning

Now that most mobile devices include a video camera, the creation of online videos is becoming easier as video-sharing sites and viral videos become increasingly common.

Examples of unintentional viral videos include:

"BBC Dad" Interview Interruption (2017)
“BBC Dad” Interview Interruption (2017)

Examples of humorous viral videos include:

"Yodeling Kid in Walmart" (2018)
“Yodeling Kid in Walmart” (2018)

Examples of promotional viral videos include:

Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" (2010)
Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)

These examples illustrate the viral video meaning. There is no set formula for creating a viral video, but many successful ones share a quick pace and near-instant payoff as far as the first laugh that hooks people into watching the entire video.

What Does “Going Viral” Mean?

“Going viral” is when content spreads quickly across the internet, capturing widespread attention and engagement in a short time. This includes videos, images, memes, articles, or tweets. The sign of something going viral is its rapid increase in views, shares, likes, and mentions, often going beyond geographical and cultural limits to reach audiences worldwide. The real measure of going viral is not just the numbers but its impact—how it connects with people, triggers emotions, starts discussions, or even sets trends.

Several factors contribute to something going viral. Content that stands out due to its originality, humor, emotional depth, or how much people can relate to it often gets shared widely. Social media platforms are key in spreading this content quickly, using algorithms to push content that is engaging, thus expanding its reach. Yet, predicting what will go viral is difficult, making it a fascinating and unpredictable occurrence.

In the modern digital world, going viral can have big effects. For individuals, it could bring sudden fame or attention; for companies and content creators, it could mean more brand visibility, increased website visits, and new ways to make money. But, being in the viral spotlight can also lead to criticism and negative reactions, highlighting the two sides of internet popularity.

What Makes a Video Go Viral on Social Media?

The path to a video becoming viral on social media involves a mix of how algorithms work and how people interact with it, alongside its cultural appeal and how easily it can be shared across different platforms. These aspects give us a closer look into the complex world of viral content.

Social Media AlgorithmsAudience BehaviorCultural and Temporal RelevanceCross-Platform Sharing

These advanced systems rank videos higher if they get a lot of likes, shares, and comments. When a video gets a lot of interaction, it tells the platform that people find the content interesting, making it more visible to others and increasing its chances of becoming viral. For example, the TikTok algorithm is famous for making videos go viral.

How viewers react to a video—by sharing, commenting, or liking—plays a key part. Videos that connect emotionally or match what viewers are interested in are more likely to be spread widely because people want to share content that means something to them.

Videos that reflect current trends, news, or the mood of society can connect better with viewers, making them more relevant and shared. The timing of when a video is released is also crucial; releasing a video when it’s most relevant to its topic can greatly boost how much it’s viewed and shared.

When a video can be easily shared across different social media without any issues, it gets more exposure. Whether it’s through direct links, embedding, or specific platform features, making it easy to share a video across various channels can move it from just being of niche interest to widely popular.

In short, if you’re wondering what makes a video viral, it is influenced by its ability to attract both users and algorithms, tapping into current trends and making the most out of how connected social media platforms are today.

Elements of Viral Videos

The key factors that make a video go viral lie within the video itself, capturing viewers’ attention with its uniqueness, storytelling, visual and sound quality, emotional impact, and ability to be remembered. These essential qualities not only make the video stand out from the vast amount of digital content but also create a bond with viewers, encouraging them to share it widely.

Content Originality and Creativity
Viral videos often stand out because they offer something new or take a fresh approach to familiar situations. This originality sparks viewer interest and encourages sharing.

Storytelling and Narrative Structure
Storytelling is crucial in making videos go viral. A compelling story that draws viewers in, surprises them or ends in an unexpected way can make a video much more likely to be shared. It’s the story that makes viewers feel connected to what they’re watching.

Visual and Auditory Appeal
Videos that look great or have a strong visual style grab attention and are more likely to get watched and shared. Clear, quality sound and good editing enhance a video’s appeal, making the viewing experience more engaging and enjoyable.
Emotion and Human Interest
Videos that tap into emotions like humor, happiness, surprise, or compassion can go viral more easily. When a video makes viewers feel something strong, they’re more likely to want to share that feeling with others.
Videos that are easy to remember, whether through catchy phrases, striking images, or memorable music, stay in people’s minds longer. This makes them more likely to be shared over and over again, increasing their reach and impact.

By including these elements, which contribute to what makes a video viral, a video can go from being just another piece of content to something that resonates with viewers and encourages them to share it, sparking a cycle of virality.

Viral Video’s Pros and Cons


  • Viral videos can reach millions globally.
  • Going viral significantly boosts brand visibility and online presence.
  • Viral content drives high engagement through likes, shares, and comments.
  • Virality opens new revenue opportunities like ads and sponsorships.
  • They influence culture, setting trends and sparking conversations.


  • Viral success is fleeting as new content emerges, pushing videos into obscurity.
  • Viral videos can lead to controversy or misunderstandings, risking reputations.
  • There’s pressure on creators to match previous viral successes.
  • Individuals in viral videos may face privacy invasions and unwanted attention.
  • Creators lose control over their viral content’s distribution and interpretation.

The Bottom Line

The essence of viral videos is their ability to both offer remarkable opportunities for widespread reach, engagement, and potential earnings, and to present challenges such as short-lived attention, the stress of repeating success, and possible negative effects for the people and brands involved.

Fundamentally, viral videos capture attention through their uniqueness, emotional connection, and relevance, making use of social media algorithms and the ease of sharing across platforms to achieve widespread popularity. Understanding the delicate mix of elements that lead to a video’s viral success—like creative content, emotional appeal, and optimal release timing—can help creators produce content that truly resonates with viewers and captures the spirit of the moment.

However, navigating the world of viral content requires careful consideration of both its advantages and drawbacks, underscoring the complex nature of gaining and handling viral fame in today’s digital landscape.


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Maria Webb
Technology Journalist
Maria Webb
Technology Journalist

Maria is a technology journalist with over five years of experience with a deep interest in AI and machine learning. She excels in data-driven journalism, making complex topics both accessible and engaging for her audience. Her work is prominently featured on Techopedia, Business2Community, and Eurostat, where she provides creative technical writing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English and a Master of Science in Strategic Management and Digital Marketing from the University of Malta. Maria's background includes journalism for, covering a range of topics from local events to international tech trends.