Center for Management Development
(848) 445-5526

Program Finder

Program Finder

The Science of Viral Media

Program Overview

How Brands Can Leverage Superior Content Strategy for Extraordinary Results

Content marketing strategy has become an increasingly crucial piece of the marketing puzzle for brands in this digital age. Creative teams everywhere work tirelessly to create content that resonates with their target audience in hopes that engagement with a brand’s content will drive sales.

With some luck, a single investment in a crafted piece of content will go viral. That is, it will spread like wildfire through social media to reach an exponentially larger audience than the content creators expected. A single piece of viral content can thrust a brand’s message into the spotlight, delivering fantastic product sales and unparalleled return on investment.

But is the creation and dissemination of viral media really luck? What actually makes a brand’s content effective? What factors influence its likelihood to be shared?

Rutgers professors have teamed up with Unruly, a company that’s cracking the code on social video sharing using big data, to craft a course that demystifies the science of virality.

This course delves into the science and the art behind viral content, and in particular viral videos, which have become a dominant form of content consumption on the web. Students will explore the factors that influence viral sharing, and will learn to craft videos, photos, blog posts, apps, and other types of content using these principles to maximize reach in social channels. They’ll have the opportunity dissect some of the greatest viral video success stories of all time to learn the secrets that made them legendary. Students will also discover how to effectively distribute and allocate content through social channels to maximize impact. Finally, students will learn to measure the results of content marketing campaigns, and will explore technologies on the horizon that will influence the future of content marketing.

Take this course to become a viral media expert and put your brand in the spotlight!

Who Should Attend

This course is appropriate for marketers of all kinds, from executives, to mid-level managers, to recent college graduates looking to understand and conquer this incredibly important topic. It is useful to anyone working in Marketing, PR, or IT, including those at creative agencies or working with creative or content at a brand. Those who own or work for small businesses looking to raise awareness of their brand will also benefit greatly from the content in this course. Social media, advertising, digital marketing, and pop culture enthusiasts will find the content particularly compelling, although an understanding of these topics is not required to gain admission to the course. Writers, bloggers, and those working in the television and radio industries will also derive great value from the course by learning to craft content that resonates with audiences and is likely to be shared.

Program Benefits

Social and viral video is becoming the primary way people are consuming content on the web. The atmospheric growth of video clips has been made possible by the explosion of smartphone adoption and advances in mobile technology. Platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Vine make sharing content through video easier than ever before, and consumers are spending more and more time consuming media in these channels. How can your brand effectively leverage these burgeoning media channels to reach your consumers?  And how can video and other viral media like blog posts, mobile apps, and photos contribute to a wildly successful brand content strategy?

This course will answer the following questions, and many more:

  • What makes a video or other interactive media go viral?
  • What kind of strategies can a brand employ to create viral media? 
  • How do I create a viral video campaign, from start to finish?
  • How can content be disseminated into social channels effectively?
  • What kind of content schedule should my brand employ to maximize engagement?
  • How do I predict and measure a viral media campaign’s success?

Students in this course will gain a concrete understanding of content marketing, as well as a mastery of viral media.  Successful completion of the course will earn students a certificate of completion from Rutgers University.


1. Intro to Content Marketing

Content marketing has become an increasingly important topic among brands big and small.  What is content strategy all about?  What companies are doing content marketing well?  What kinds of media channels are available to distribute content to?

2. Social Video 101

How is the marketing landscape changing, and what part does social video play? This module provides an introduction to the high-growth, non-interruptive video format that turns engaged viewers into customers and advocates.

3. Viral Video Success Stories

This section of the course will lead students through the most shared ads and content in 2013, as well as many of the most shared ads of all time.  What made these campaigns successful?  What lessons can be learned from these brilliant campaigns?

4. The Data Behind Virality

Only funny content gets shared, right?  That misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. This session examines the big data collected at Unruly on consumer sharing behavior to explore the myths surrounding social video.  Learn which factors influence how much content is shared, as well as little-known tips and insights that will help your brand make a splash on the web.

5. Creating Viral Media

This module includes an exploration of best practices in modern media creation for brands, as well as a step-by-step guide to creating viral media in video and social channels.  As a part of this module, students will have the opportunity to plan their own viral media campaign, and have it evaluated by the professors.

6. Content Allocation Strategy

Now that you’ve created a brilliant viral media campaign, what do you do with it?  What channels should you spread it in, and how do you decide how to allocate resources to each of these channels?  Learn the best practices for a holistic and effective content marketing strategy, and how to best utilize YouTube, Vine, Instagram, and other social channels.

7. Present and Future of Content Marketing

This module examines the present trends in content marketing (such as memes) that are sweeping the web, and delves into future technological trends that are going to shape the future of content diffusion.

8. Measurement & ROI

How is a content marketing campaign’s success measured?  How can one predict the outcome of a campaign’s success?  This module explores social media and video analytics, and how you can make sense of them for your brand.