Social media, influencer and creator marketing

How Your Brand Can Go Viral & Reach Gen Z In 2024

Published on
February 27, 2024
Last updated
February 27, 2024

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What do Ugg Boots, a bottle of Cera-Ve, a deep-dish cookie and a talking owl all have in common?

No, it’s not a trick question. It’s a weird (yet very important one) though.

Well, they all went viral for one reason or another. And, in the age of the internet, going viral can be a life-changing feat. But how feasible is it to make it to this point? How can you avoid being a one-hit wonder (or a two-hit wonder, in the words of Ice Spice)? Is it all about big budgets, or big dreams?

Fear not: in this blog, we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of it all. We’ve condensed some of the top ways you can skyrocket your online presence and both capitalize and cash-in to the online world.

Embrace the Power of TikTok

Sorry – you probably saw this one coming, and if you didn’t, you’d best read on. By the end of 2024, TikTok is expected to surpass over two billion daily active users. For context, that’s almost a quarter of the entire population of Earth. AKA: a lot of potential.

The primary user base of this number is Gen Z. According to our data, 83% of those aged 16-24 use TikTok. With bite-sized content, visual storytelling and in-app communities, we also saw that trust increases on this app: 30% of Gen Z trust TikTok creators more than creators on other platforms. 

So, when it comes to going viral and reaching these audiences, TikTok is your golden ticket. Jump on the bandwagon by creating engaging, short-form videos that showcase who you are. Don't be afraid to join trending challenges, create your own or use trending audio.

Gen Z knows how to talk to Gen Z

Let’s go back to the talking owl. 

In 2021, Zaria Parvez entered the headquarters of a language-learning app. After writing some outlandish scripts and ideating a new vision, Parvez brought the DuoLingo owl to life. A mascot who twerks, taunts and has become a staple of the internet.

Jax on X: "I love the Duolingo owl meme" / X

Parvez is a Gen Z herself, and is one of several young marketers who have become trailblazers in their industry.

The success of Duolingo’s presence comes down to the fact that Parvez speak’s Gen Z’s language (pardon the pun). Because the voice ultimately comes from someone in this age range, it feels authentic.

Brush the line, don’t cross it

Sometimes, the best viral content is high-risk. However, it’s important to note there’s still a line – a line best described by Parvez as one to be “brushed, not crossed”.

The best viral brands for Gen Z are ones that use humorous, irreverent marketing, throwing out the rule book and pushing the boundaries. 

One example is RyanAir. 

Similar to DuoLingo, the RyanAir TikTok account speaks from the perspective of a mascot: in this case, a plane overlaid with googly eyes. 

Mocking the stereotypes people associate with flying on a budget airline (leg room? I don’t know her), RyanAir’s tone of voice is tactically satirical. It pushes the boundaries, but doesn’t overstep them.

@ryanair You’re just lucky 🧍🏽 #ryanair ♬ original sound - Ryanair

Another example is Wendy’s, the third largest fast food chain in the US.

Wendy’s has carved out a social media persona of its own.

Their bio on X (formerly known as Twitter) reads “we like our tweets the way we like our fries: hot, crispy, and better than anyone expects from a fast food restaurant”. The tweets are feisty, and innovative, often poking fun at their competitors.

Carl Loredo, Wendy’s Chief Marketing Officer shared “We believe that people are coming to us today on social to be entertained. That’s the commitment we have to deliver on”.

Add some mystery, and generate a buzz

Last year, photographs emerged of Kate Moss walking around Manchester donning an Aldi bag. A surprising brand partnership, for the world’s most famous model. But was it all it seemed to be?

Did you hear the one about Kate Moss shopping in a Manchester Aldi during  the Chanel show? She didn't (sorry) - Prolific North

No – it wasn’t. It was, however, an incredible marketing stunt. 

Capitalizing on the fact that Chanel was holding its annual Metiers D’Art show in Manchester, Aldi hired a “Fake Moss” lookalike, generating buzz on social media by using paparazzi and positioning the lookalike in popular Manchester spots. Social media went into overdrive as users shared images of the model with different theories. 

This was a great example of a brand piggybacking from a cultural moment, and using the good old allure of mystery. Plus, we imagine using an individual who wasn’t quite the real deal was a lot more budget-friendly.

Speed wins for the win!

Social media moves fast. As a result, going viral isn’t always about meticulously planned campaigns, but the ability to be reactive. 

We recently wrote about Uber Eats’ superbowl campaign, where they mocked Victoria Beckham’s “Rolls Royce” moment. Other successful campaigns follow a similar style: they see a viral moment, and they give it new legs.

After the viral success of Calvin Klein’s ad with Jeremy Allen White (and the later controversy), Berlin brewery company BRLO released an ad with their own satirical take.

Filmed in the German capital, the ad’s bearded star recreates some of Allen White’s primping and preening for the camera. Fittingly, given how scantily clad he is, the commercial promotes BRLO Naked, an alcohol-free pale ale.

More than half of US consumers say they remember and enjoy an advertisement if it is humorous; and reactive marketing is often always humorous. If shared on the right platform at the right time, engagement from this type of content can be way more effective than generic pre-planned material.

Plus, extra points if the reactive marketing swings away from your usual tone of voice: consumers won’t expect this kind of discourse from you, and it’ll take them pleasantly by surprise.

Tap into your communities

Finally, it’s not always about posting on social media. 

Effective community management is crucial for a successful social media presence, especially when aiming for viral content. This means listening to your audience, responding to them, and creating conversation opportunities to drive more engagement. This doesn’t always have to be between consumer and brand: in fact, some of the best community management examples are between brands and other brands, or brands and creators.

Take this example from Reese’s. 

Creator Eddie Abbew has become a staple on TikTok in the last month. His cutting commentary on fast food has seen thousands of Gen Zers shunning Creme Eggs for real eggs, he counts Gemma Collins and Stormzy as fans, and he's just announced a collaboration with GRM Daily. 

In an unprecedented (and risky) move, chocolate brand Reese’s commented on a video where Eddie discusses the idea of moderation, asking “what about a Reese’s?”. Stitching the comment onto a new video, Eddie tore the brand to pieces (we’re on fire with the puns today…). It was a risky move from Reese's, but one that would’ve generated a whole new load of traffic onto their TikTok page. 

You can also create a powerful community just by replying to comments. This is the go-to tactic of micro-influencers in growing their audiences, and is a strategy followed by brands such as Innocent Drinks and E.l.f Cosmetics. 

Get involved, answer questions and sprinkle a good old bit of silliness into your replies – remember that Gen Z loves nothing more than seeing brand personalities reflected in their marketing.

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