Going Viral: Is There a Prescription for Creating Viral Content?

The Renegade Dance, “Baby Shark,” Mary Schmich’s “Wear Sunscreen” column. What do they have in common? They all went viral on the internet! Renegade was the viral dance challenge on TikTok made popular by Charli D’Amelio. “Baby Shark” became the most watched video of all time on YouTube. Mary Schmich’s column for the Chicago Tribune written as a graduation speech and misattributed to Kurt Vonnegut was shared via email and went viral way back before social media even existed.

How can automotive dealerships create video content that is shared throughout the internet and gain instant fame? While many may dream of racking up a billion views via YouTube or having content shared widely throughout social media, there isn’t one simple solution to scoring the next super sensation.

Creating viral content on the internet and via social media might be rooted in both luck and creativity. But also relatability. And sometimes content or videos go viral because they represent something shocking…and not in a good way. Everyone wants to go viral for the right reasons (good content, creativity), and certainly no individual or business wants to go viral for the wrong reasons (Karen memes, bad service).

There isn’t a single prescription for viral content; if there was, everyone would go viral. The internet can be finicky, and so can its users. What defines cool, controversial or even entertaining obviously depends on the individual. But sometimes the content is so relatable, so witty or just plain “WHAT!” that everyone reads it, watches and shares.

While there isn’t one foolproof script for going viral, there are some tips that could help content go viral.


“Baby Shark” has more than eight billion views on YouTube. This is more than Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Despacito” and a live video of the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” combined. “Despacito” now trails “Baby Shark” by more than one billion views. “Welcome to the Jungle” holds the top spot for all of Guns N’ Roses content with more than 440 million views. And the Beatles? Arguably one of the most iconic bands of all time? Their top video boasts more than 330 million views.

So how in the world did a cartoon video of colorful sharks capture more views than The Beatles, the crazy popular “Despacito” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle?” According to Indian Express, “Baby Shark” first became popular in Asia; the site reported that in Indonesia, people started doing their own Baby Shark moves. Then the video hit the U.S., the #babysharkchallenge became a viral hit on TikTok…and more crazy popularity followed. Now consumers can even buy Baby Shark macaroni and cheese.

While “Baby Shark” became a popular challenge on TikTok, so, too, did The Renegade. While Charli D’Amelio made it infamous, the dance was actually created by Jalaiah Harmon. The popularity of the dance was likely related to the challenge it brought to TikTok creators. Everyone wanted to create a video doing The Renegade. And, thus, a craze was born.

Sometimes internet celebrities creep in unexpectedly and go viral seemingly out of nowhere. However, there are a few video tips that dealerships might keep in mind to help their content resonate with a wide audience and, hopefully, get shared by many:


Funny videos are popular if they’re clever or cute, and, hopefully, not mean. Again, no one wants to go viral for the wrong reasons. Take on a popular TikTok dance challenge and have fun with it.


While doing a dance challenge via YouTube or TikTok can make someone a sensation, creating something new also can stand out on the internet. Create a dance challenge or post a ‘hack’ that hasn’t been done before. What’s a ‘hack?’ It’s a shortcut or an easy or creative way to do something. Just make sure the hack is safe.


“Baby Shark” is really catchy. Watch the video and try not to get the tune stuck in your head. It’s nearly impossible. Maybe the dealership has a catchy jingle or a spokesperson with a well-known tone. Catchy videos catch on!


Keep the viewers hanging with a series. Maybe this includes handy tips or some type of fun adventure at the dealership. Maybe the mascot’s involved. Or a signature car. Create a series or an adventure video that keeps viewers hooked.


Written content can go viral for a number of reasons. Great content resonates with readers; it’s powerful, perhaps helpful. Some content makes us happy, it brings joy. Content also can spark negative emotions, and, again, most businesses wouldn’t want to go viral for such a reason.

Schmich’s column went viral because it touched something for many people who read it. The column was structured as a graduation speech filled with advice. But each statement, each guideline within the column reflected a simple truth related to a stage of life.

Sometimes viral content—written content—is shared across the internet because it is so well-written and powerful that those who read it feel compelled to pass it on. Dealership content may be focused on cars, sales and other news. So how can these topics create powerful content?

Dealerships could write about their first car. What it meant to them. And ask followers to do the same. They can post topics that resonate with their followers. This might mean brainstorming sessions to think about content before creating it.


Longer content and videos can go viral, but simple posts can be shared and re-shared across the internet. These posts may be clever, funny, powerful or just awe-inspiring. They might even include cute animals.

What goes viral doesn’t always make sense. For whatever reason, a post could simply just strike the right chord at the exact right time. Or it just may be incredibly witty. Want to see posts that went viral? There’s a Twitter account dedicated to viral posts.

Rafflepress also provided some tips about creating viral Twitter posts. The site recommended giveaways, using engaging headlines, asking for retweets among their many tips. Humor, of course, also was recommended.

While not all dealerships will offer giveaways, if the dealership is hosting a contest, Twitter might be a good place to publicize it.


Wanting to post the next viral video is a great goal, yet dealerships eyeing this catchy popularity might also consider doing a check-up on their social media health. That is, if a dealership or business wants to be seen, it might be a good idea to review social media activity.

Have followers been increasing? Or have the numbers been stagnant? Check out interactions. Are posts receiving responses, likes or other engagement? If the answer is “no,” then it might be time to sit down and review social media strategy.

Maybe the dealership doesn’t have a strategy. Perhaps the accounts aren’t being updated often. Followers might not click on a page or engage if there isn’t any interesting content or interaction.

Finding time to post social media updates might be an issue for smaller dealerships without a dedicated marketing staff. If the dealership isn’t even sure what to post, it might be time to map out an editorial plan or create an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar maps out content—including posts—for the month. This could be as simple as just a few words about a topic of interest. While daily posts might be ideal, even weekly posts might help engage followers.

Dealerships might consider posts that help increase engagement. This could include polls or questions about what followers love about a particular season. For Valentine’s Day, a question about favorite candy or flowers could be fun and appropriate.


While every business and individual would love to have a post that reaches a million people (or more!) across the internet, viral content might not be predictable. While there are ways to hopefully increase chances of heightened engagement, viral posts may be one part luck and one part creativity.

That doesn’t mean that the dealership’s posts can’t or won’t go viral. It simply means that the dealership might need to plan out posts or think creatively about what they want to post. For videos, silly content is always going to get a laugh; inspiring content also may do well. Cute animals are popular…after all, many people search for cute kittens and even baby trash pandas (aka raccoons!).

Blog content may do well when it’s honest and inspiring or helpful and insightful. Content should be well-written, free of errors and well cited. Social media posts also can hit viral status for a number of reasons. They could be hilarious, punny, inspiring, or simply shareable (like giveaways).

Dealerships and businesses also might want to remember that sometimes content goes viral for the wrong reasons. While some people believe that all publicity is good publicity, that’s not really true. Be kind, share and spread positivity and use the viral possibilities of the internet for goodness.