How to build virality in your product? 💹

April 17, 2023
Product & Growth

Everybody wants to go viral with their product but doesn't know how to. What if I told you that there is a method to the madness? You can actually decide the right type of virality that might work for your product. 

There are four ways to acquire users: Performance Marketing, Content, Direct Sales and Virality. Virality is ‘growth from existing users. Every user you have brings more users and sets up an engine for viral growth.  

In today's issue, I will unpack the different virality tactics and which products go well with which viral tactics. Let's begin!


🕵 How to decide the right growth channel for your product?

Every product cannot go viral. Before thinking of virality, it is imperative to consider whether the product fits the channel. Here are a few thoughts on product-growth channel fit:

  • Performance Marketing fits well if you can get a direct return on your ad spend. Subscription products or mobile games with in-app purchases are a good fit. It also works when you are operating in a crowded market, and people don't search for you.
  • Content-led growth is an excellent fit if the product is complex, operates in a niche, or is knowledge-based. Finance, education or health-based products would be a great fit. 
  • Sales-led growth is needed when the product's cost is quite high. Users would like to have a human interaction before investing in that product.  B2B products need a sales engine. 
  • Finally, viral growth is a fit when you have a product that grows better as more people use it i.e. network effects or increases collaboration. Or if you have an out-of-the-world product that people can't help but talk about. 

We will now explore different types of virality and relevant examples of products.

🗣 Word of Mouth

The product is so good that you want to brag to the world about it. Think back to the time you used a product and felt wow! I need to share it with the world. The best example of this product in the recent times is ChatGPT. 

They did not have any referral campaigns or virality built into them. The product was so good - people are talking about it.

Why? It solved a critical problem of interfacing with an AI, as simple as chatting with it and getting answers. 

For an organic word-of-mouth virality, you need to solve an existing pain point and provide an out-of-the-world experience. For example, Airbnb

  • Pain point: unable to find a decent hotel to stay
  • Solution: homestays for a local experience
  • Experience: excellent accommodation and warm hosts - great time. You post photos and share your experience.

💵 Incentivized Word of mouth

Word of mouth only, but you have an additional incentive to referrals in the form of cash or product credits. The classic example is Dropbox, with the incentive of extra storage space for every referral. 

Some more examples of incentivized referrals are:

Uber: Free credits on inviting new users who complete a ride
Cred: Assured cashback or Cred gems which can be exchanged for goodies.
Paypal: Free money on inviting users

When designing the incentive structure, think of the following:
• What is the right incentive that would motivate your users to share with their friends? Ex: cashback, extra credits, extra storage.
• How to make it easy for the user to invite their network? For example: syncing their contacts.
• How to make it so attractive that users like it but it does not hit the company's bottom line?
• Once the users come in, how to retain them?

📺 Demonstration virality

Users are showing the product by simply using it. For example, you are sharing your trip status with your friend or parents on Uber. They will see the status of your trip and the ETA.

Using the product feature demonstrates the use with the world. Other examples of this are:

  • Email signature of the phone 'Sent from iphone'
  • What you are listening on Spotify - status on Whatsapp or Instagram.

For this viral loop:

  • Think about which of the features of the app, when shared with others, make sense organically. Ex: Location of the trip
  • How can you subtly brand your tool when used? Example: Calendy embed, Made with TikTok watermarks.

 🕸 Network effects virality

This works best for tools that don't make sense unless many people are using it. It gets better as more people use this product. Examples of such products are:

  • Slack, Figma - colleagues invite colleagues to get work done.
  • Zoom - set up a conference, have attendees. Then attendees think of using Zoom as the tool.
  • Calendly for meetings.

For network effects virality think about:

  • How to make it easy to invite a non-user to be a part of the product experience?
  • How can non-users use the product and sign up quickly?

🌳 Outbreak virality

Some products spread because they’re fun to share or because they’ve got a lot of popular momentum and people want to look cool by sharing them. YouTube videos blow up because they’re funny or addictive, and it’s just fun to share them with your friends.

Gaming apps work with this virality well. A great example of this virality is Wordle. Remember how your friends used to post their wordle scores on Twitter, and everyone competed with each other and compared day by day.

When you randomly apply virality to any product

Tips for viral growth

  • Validate whether you are growing virally before you go full-fledged on it. If you cannot track the viral growth, then look at the growth of organic traffic for the website.
  • Keep engaging with the existing users and think of different engagement loops. The more engaged the users are, the more liable they are to bring referrals.
  • Don't expect people to invite 100s of people and ask them to send invitation emails to all. Ask for smaller things - like sharing a Linkedin post if they like the experience.
  • Go for native virality which encourages sharing organically over invite based virality. With almost every app going for invites, it is tough to stand out.

Tool of the Day


This is a no-code platform that helps to create quizzes or game-like experiences for businesses to engage with users. There are ready to use templates available or they can be built from scratch.

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