Creating viral content is a challenge that marketers across industries strive to conquer. The formula for achieving viral content is a topic of much debate. While there's no guaranteed recipe for success, a theory put forth by Australia-headquartered Birdcage Marketing School offers an interesting framework that could be a valuable tool for marketers. It suggests viral content should, firstly, be a combination of three key elements: controversy, relatability and aspiration. Secondly, it should be tied to universal themes. That said, is the framework applicable within the financial services sector? 

The viral content formula 


Have you ever noticed that controversial social media posts will have hundreds of comments and huge levels of engagement? That’s because controversial content sparks conversation and debate by challenging the status quo. While posting controversial content can be a quick-fire way to go viral, within the financial services industry it's essential to exercise caution as controversy should not come at the expense of trust and credibility.  


Unsurprisingly, relatable content also tends to receive high levels of engagement as it resonates with audiences on a personal level and helps make brands appear more human and personable. In the context of financial services, relatability can be achieved by addressing common financial concerns and challenges faced by everyday people. For instance, discussing topics such as budgeting, debt management or saving for retirement can help you connect with a retail audience. 


Showcasing an idealised future is a common form of aspirational content, but it’s key that you know exactly what that looks like for different investor types. Within the financial services sector, aspiration is often a strong motivator. Investors generally aspire to build wealth, secure their financial future and achieve their financial goals. Therefore, content that taps into these aspirations can resonate deeply. However, firms should err on the side of caution, lest they be accused of promising investors something they cannot deliver.   

Universal Themes

To effectively apply the framework, it's essential to align your content with universal themes. While some of these themes may not directly relate to the financial industry, they can still be linked to investment content. 

Love and friendship  

In finance, this theme can be tied to ensuring financial security for your loved ones. For instance, discussing life insurance or estate planning can demonstrate how responsible financial management expresses love and care for family. 

Life and death  

Financial planning for the future, including estate planning, are key examples. It highlights the importance of securing your legacy, and ensuring your family is protected after you pass away. 

Fear and courage  

Content that addresses fears and concerns relating to financial security, debt, higher interest rates, retirement or even global issues such as climate change can really resonate with your audience. Promoting a solution that addresses a problem your audience is facing is a highly effective marketing tool. 

Dreams and aspirations  

Financial planning often revolves around achieving one's dreams and aspirations. While firms should be careful that they don’t frame particular funds or strategies as guaranteed ways to turn dreams into reality, this theme is still useful. For example, discussing the path to help someone buy a first home or how to start a business, can inspire and engage your audience. 

Struggle and resilience  

Many individuals face financial challenges and hardships. Stories of resilience and bouncing back from financial struggles or difficult economic circumstances can be highly motivating. Discussing the importance of an emergency fund, debt recovery strategies or raising a credit score can help your audience learn from real-life examples of resilience. 

Success and failure 

In the financial services sector, it's essential to approach the theme of success and failure with caution, as we must be mindful not to over-promise or be perceived to guarantee a particular financial outcome. Instead, consider highlighting success stories within the realm of corporate social responsibility, showcasing ways your organisation has made a positive impact on the community or society at large.  

Where it may not apply to the finance industry 

While this theory can serve as a powerful tool for crafting viral content, there are certain themes, such as "Adventure and exploration", that may not naturally align with the financial services industry. Most people don't consider investing in stocks or managing their retirement accounts to be an adventure... 

In conclusion, creating viral content often rests on a strategic blend of relatability and aspiration, and is tied to universal themes. So, has this given you any ideas?