How To

How Brands Can Take Advantage of Viral Challenges

By Editorial Staff

If you are an avid social media user, chances are you’ve stumbled across a viral challenge. But what exactly is a viral challenge? Essentially, viral challenges are trending activities that anyone can participate in. Be it influencers, celebrities, or just everyday people, challenges have everyone and anyone involved. Social media users can easily find what the next viral challenges are when hundreds of posts and videos flood the trending pages. The amount of interactions makes it easier for the challenge to go viral – and since anyone can interact, this is a perfect opportunity for brands to jump in on the hype.

Viral challenges are an excellent way for brands to get their name out there and into the public. Since there’s so much attention surrounding the viral challenge, if a brand references or participates in the challenge during marketing, the brand can get a higher level of recognition. No matter how big or small your company is, if you correctly participate in a viral challenge, it can benefit your publicity. Follow these steps below to see just how exactly brands can profit off of viral challenges.

1. Keep up with trends

Part of social media marketing is staying on top of the game. In the case of viral challenges, you would want to jump on the trend before anyone else does to maximize profit. Monitoring the trends on social media makes it easier to get a headstart on marketing. This can be as simple as watching the Twitter trends, articles reporting on trends, the trending tab on YouTube, or the front page of TikTok. There are also programs and software that analyze these kinds of viral trends so that you don’t have to. No one can predict the exact challenge that will go viral but keeping yourself updated with what’s trendy can be used to your advantage.

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Tiktok couples push up challenge #letsgo

A post shared by Jessie James Decker (@jessiejamesdecker) on

2. Compare your brand with a suitable challenge

Now comes the time to pick a challenge for your company to market capitalize on. Finding one suitable for your brand and its message is key here. It doesn’t have to be completely related to your product but it’s important for the brand and the challenge to be compatible. For example, in 2019, Too Faced Cosmetics noticed that one of their lip glosses was selling out due to a viral TikTok challenge using said lip gloss. They took advantage of this challenge to promote a new mascara of theirs by launching a similar challenge, which skyrocketed their sales even further. The product wasn’t the exact same as the one used in the initial challenge. However, they knew the existing challenge would help drive sales of their new product because of that previous experience.

3. Plan and strategize 

After selecting a viral challenge appropriate for your brand, it’s time to create a marketing strategy. First of all, you need to know who your target audience is in order to center your campaign around them. Think about who is participating in the challenge and appeal to them. It’s also important to choose your words carefully to avoid any controversy. Be prepared for the wave of responses when you start and form a quick response team to deal with any initial reactions. Lastly, when planning your campaign, be trendy but original. Follow the trend in your own, unique way so that people remember your brand when they think of the challenge. 

Another way to make your challenge stand out is to include a deeper message to it. The “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” was a challenge gone viral to raise awareness of ALS disease. Many brands, such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks took part in their own versions of the challenge. Dumping a bucket of ice water on themselves was not only a fun way to bring in positive engagement towards their brands, but also a way to support the treatment for ALS. 

Howard's #IceBucketChallenge

Howard takes the #IceBucketChallenge to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease. Howard challenges Walter Robb (Whole Foods Market), Tom Douglas (Tom Douglas Restaurants) & Major League Hall of Famer Tony La Russa.

Posted by Starbucks Partners on Friday, August 15, 2014

4. Pick your platform and influencers

The platform you pick to promote your brand is vital when marketing. It’s where everyone will see your posts, after all! You can also choose to partner with influencers to support your campaign. It can make a huge difference, as influencers already have a dedicated audience in which you can expand your reach. Before you make a choice, there are some key questions that you should tie into your final decision.

    • Where does your target audience post the most on? 
    • Which platform is your chosen challenge getting the most engagement on?
    • Which influencers are taking part in it and where?

5. Carry out your campaign

When everything is set and planned, carry out your campaign! The timing is essential, so make sure you start posting at an appropriate time. Know when your audience is active and where. You don’t want to be too late, as it can cause you to lose potential exposure. Begin advertising and getting your brand’s name out there. You can react, retweet, repost, and overall just follow the challenge as it picks up. Include a call to action as well so that more people take part in the challenge and promote your brand. 

Also, remember that it’s not just about promoting a product, but promoting your name and gaining engagement. In November 2016, when the Mannequin Challenge was at its peak, many companies such as Target, Sprite, and even Pixar participated by posting their versions, increasing the engagement with their posts. Even though big companies like these might not need that exposure, they were trying to attach their name to the challenge. So, when you think “Mannequin Challenge”, you think of Sprite or Target’s posts regarding the challenge.

6. Analyze the results

After the challenge dies down, it’s crucial to reflect on the results. Was the campaign successful? How did people react? How much engagement did you get on your posts? How did participating in the challenge affect your sales? In the end, remember to take note of what worked and what didn’t. This information is important because you can use this experience to prepare for the next time you advertise using a viral challenge.

This article was written by Rianon Gladura

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