11 Memorable Viral Facebook Posts (And Why They Worked)


If you’re looking for a series of viral Facebook posts shared by celebrities, you’re about to be disappointed. Celebs and memes aren’t exactly the type of posts I’m looking to discuss. This article is about Facebook posts that were developed by a marketing team or expert that truly understands the formula for viral content.

We’ve all done it. We uploaded a post to Facebook that took an hour of planning, another two of design and a few minutes to simply press publish. Our heart races, our sweat boils and we wait to see how the community reacts. It’s flat. The post, falls flat…What if I told you I unlocked a formula? What if I told you I found key trends that can be used to ensure your posts go viral? Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you. 

I’ve spent the last couple days looking at a handful of Facebook pages in hopes of finding some of the most viral posts from businesses, organizations and brands. I’ve looked high and low for this content, from industry to industry and fan page to fan page; all in hopes of finding the special ingredient for going viral on Facebook.

Here are a series of Facebook posts along with the reason they caught on and generated conversation. Take this post and bookmark it. Share it with your friends and anyone interested in taking their content marketing to the next level. And the next time you’re about to press share on a brand page, make sure it lines up with some of these viral ingredients:


Brand Page: EA Sports: Madden 25
Special Sauce: Call to Actions

People tend to act surprised when I tell them that people on social media like being told what to do. But when you think about it, the idea of giving people instructions makes perfect sense. Upon finding a post on Facebook, your first instinct is to read the text and look at the image. Once you’ve done that, you typically will continue to scroll down your news feed unless something entices you to engage. A good call to action can be the difference between thousands of clicks and Likes and no interaction at all. In this post, it says “Like for Von Miller” or “Comment for JJ Watts” – The actual text instead of icons would have made this post even more effective but nobody’s perfect.
[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]

Brand Page: Oreo
Special Sauce: Share What’s Being Shared

Recipes and DIY content has taken the web by storm which can quickly be seen with a quick glance of networks like Pinterest. Whether we’re talking about recipes or arts & craft activities, there’s an ongoing thirst for this type of content. In fact, it’s Recipes and Arts & Crafts that are the most frequently pinned items on Pinterest. As such, it’s a great opportunity for brands who have products that can be turned into DIY projects to build content that is shareable by nature!
[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]


Brand Page: LuLu Lemon Athletica
Special Sauce: Reactive Storytelling

On July 22nd, there were more than 500 brands who shared posts that were specifically related to the Royal Baby. Brands spent weeks and months in advance planning what clever and insightful post they could share to go viral on the day the baby was born. Some marketers call it Newsjacking – I call it reactive storytelling. It’s the idea of taking a top of mind story and combining it with a relevant brand and marketing message. The brand message here isn’t that strong but the top of mind story is enough to put this post in front of thousands of people using Facebook.

[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]


Brand Page: Buffalo Wild Wings
Special Sauce: Targeted Fun

In this post from Buffalo Wild Wings, the brand recognizes what their audience is interested in and puts a clever yet funny spin on it. At the time of this post, one of the biggest soccer games was happening and Buffalo Wild Wings created a funny post that referenced it. This is the act of reactive storytelling but what takes this post to the next level is their ability to create a funny brand relevant message that resonates with their audience. Happiness is one of the most powerful emotions that a brand can evoke. To modify the famous Marilyn Monroe quote, “If you can make someone laugh, you can make them do anything.”

[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]


Brand Page: Converse
Special Sauce: Emotion Based

People love, love. It’s that simple. When you think about your favourite love song, research shows it’s probably not your favourite because of the lyrics. In fact, it’s  probably your favourite because you associate it with an emotional event in your life. That’s the power of music but that same theory can be associated with the content you share on Facebook.

Content that sparks emotion is the single biggest difference between viral content and flat content. When you share something that brings thoughts and ideas about love, people associate that content with the people they love. In doing so, they associate that idea of love with your brand and establish a deeper connection with your brand.[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]


Brand Page: Red Bull
Special Sauce: Extreme Shots

Whether we’re talking about Red Bull Stratos and Skywire or Harry Houdini and Evel Knievel, people have always been amazed at mind blowing stunts. The idea of putting it all on the line for a thrill or unimaginable feat is something that has provided millions with entertainment from generation to generation. Sharing content that is filled with excitement, risk and thrill is an effective way to create content worth sharing.

[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]

Brand Page: Banana Republic
Special Sauce: Show Your True Colours

Making a stand as it relates to what the public sees as political, societal and controversial topics is something that more and more brands are embracing as they strive to be more authentic. In this post, Banana Republic shares their stance on equality as it relates to marriage. While the post might turn off some of their existing fans, it’s going to have a positive impact among those who support marriage equality. As such, those who agree with Banana Republic are going to share this content as a way to show (1) that they support marriage equality but also (2) Banana Republic.
[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]

Brand Page: Oreo
Special Sauce: Outside The Box

Thinking outside of the box has always been what differentiates the brands that stand out and those that blend in. If you’re looking to go viral on Facebook, do something that’s never been done before or that people never deemed possible. Optical illusions are a great way to spark an increase in both conversation and shares on your Facebook page.
[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]
Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 11.55.13 AM

Brand Page: Dr.Pepper
Special Sauce: Human Truth

Human truths are what make websites like Someecards so popular. It’s the process in which a brand communicates something that an audience agrees with or can relate to without much thought. A central human truth is described by Luke Sullivan as ‘central truth’ about your whole product category. For example, hair coloring isn’t about looking younger. It’s about self-esteem. Cameras aren’t about pictures. They’re about stopping time and holding life as the sands runs out. When we can tap into human truths that are often overlooked, we have the ability to connect on a deeper level with our audience and drive an increase in shares.
[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]
Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 11.47.28 AM

Brand Page: Axe Bodywash
Special Sauce: Sex Sells

Sex sold in the 1900’s and it continues to sell today. In a study led by a researcher at Arizona State University found that thinking about mating can significantly influence people’s decisions about spending and giving.The visual above injects both a bit of humour and sex into one post giving it double the power to be shared by thousands on Facebook.

[divider line_type=”Full Width Line”]
Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 10.44.55 AM

Brand Page: Skittles
Special Sauce: People Love Prizes

Have you ever seen one of your friends share a post that gave them a chance to win a $50 Costco card? If not, don’t worry, sooner or later you will and you should know in advance that it’s probably a scam. That said, as a brand, you can use this knowledge to understand the fact that people really do love to win prizes. This is especially true if the prize is something as unique and compelling as this Skittles vending machine. If you can come up with a unique prize that is relevant to your brand, you should not view contests as cheap – instead, view them as a way to reward fans for their loyalty and commitment to your brand.

You don’t have to have a million dollar budget to create viral status updates. These 11 ingredients are consistently used by large Fortune 500 brands to small mom and pop shops on the verge of making it big and everything in between. It’s creative thinking and an understanding of your target audience that will help your content go viral.

So, what do you think about integrating these ingredients into your existing Facebook recipe? Are there any other ingredients that we all should be using?