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Smartphone showing social media apps as part of an article about viral loops.

Viral loops create exponential growth for businesses in a short amount of time. 

Sounds great! But what even is a viral loop?

Well, it’s like a virus, but for marketing. One person gets infected and they spread it to others at a rapid pace.

A couple of prime examples of successful viral loops stem from online accommodation marketplace, Airbnb, and ridesharing platform, Uber. Each reinvented the wheel in its respective field, having started with small consumer bases before turning into global icons.

Airbnb began with a very small number of property listings. In fact, in its early days, you would first have to send the company a request with the destination you were planning on staying at, along with your preferred travel dates, and then wait.

Airbnb would then send you its ‘top picks’, based on your needs. Although, as Harvard Business School associate professor, Thales Taxiera, noted, its top picks were “probably all they had” at the time.

But it was through delighting these first up-takers that Airbnb set the wheels in motion. Its initial users told their friends about the business and shared the news on social media, and then their friends did the same. And the rest is history.


Person holding smartphone displaying the Uber app.

Uber is a great example of a viral loops success story. Credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

3 Ways to Get Viral Loops

So, how do you get your business to go viral? There are no guarantees with achieving viral loops, but here are three top tips to improve your chances of gaining a whole lot of attention.

1. Offer a Freebie for Inviting a Friend

Airbnb and Uber mastered this technique on the way to creating viral loops, offering vouchers in exchange for referrals.

Dropbox is another prime example of a brand that builds upon its purpose to inspire increased uptake. The more friends you invite, the more cloud storage you’re granted.


Laptop displaying the Dropbox homepage.

Dropbox rewards users who invite others to experience its site. Credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

2. Make it Social

It’s human nature that we crave being a part of a community and interacting with others. Duolingo created this kind of community to send its language-learning platform viral.

Users interact with one another through the website or app to share information and ask for help. They are then rewarded for their contribution and receive badges for their language-learning progress.

Duolingo is also very good at reminding language learners to keep going if they’ve been quiet for a while – maybe even too good!


Duolingo logo against a lime green background.

Duolingo seized an opportunity to tap into our communal nature. Credit: Ilgmyzin on Unsplash.

3. Do Something Good

Another way to inspire early adopters is to recognise their patronage with a donation to a charity or something else that creates good.

An example is with the search engine, Ecosia, which plants trees based on its number of users. The organisation has planted over 50 million trees, which is admirable given the Google monopoly they’re operating in. Now that’s some good press!

While viral loops can skyrocket your business to dizzying new heights, none of it is possible without providing a great product or service that delights your customers.

You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, but what you’re offering or how you’re offering it has to stand out from your competition.

In other words, give your customers an exceptional experience.


A rainbow drawn in chalk on an asphalt surface accompanied with the words 'Do infinite good'.

Do good, infinitely so. Credit: Nick Fewings on Unsplash.

Let’s Go Viral!

Whether you’re starting out or wanting to send your existing business sky-high, the team at Hunt & Hawk creates custom solutions to excite your audience.

Keen to find out more? Get in touch with us at or book a time to chat.