How to Plan a Viral Social Challenge Online

A few weeks ago, I implemented #Challenge18 – 18 days of Sustainability & Leadership Challenge. Following the virality of this move, and in addition to the challenges I have successfully implemented in the past, I thought I would share with you my method for creating viral challenges online.

In this article, I will address the 18 days challenge of sustainability and leadership as a study case and a piece of inspiration for building the challenge that will work well with your organization.

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#Challenge 18 is an 18-day social challenge, inspired by the 17 UN Sustainability Goals. It aims to open participants to a process of growth, leaving the comfort zone, and developing a global awareness of the most urging challenges of human society.

During the challenge, participants are given daily tasks, which include listening to short Ted talks. The group operates on the principle of positive social pressure – those who have completed the daily task send an emoji to the group, within 24 hours, to show that they have completed the daily task.

The challenge is viral as in one of the challenge days the participants are asked to create a group themselves and spread the daily tasks to more people. That is, the challenge allows people to practice leadership in the simple principle of copy-paste.

Gamification – what is it?

Creating a social challenge online means offering an unforgettable, easy-to-perform and valuable experience to your audience. An online social challenge can differentiate your organization, especially during challenging times as nowadays. Experiences are a key competitive resource for nonprofits and also for-profit organizations because they are:

  • Flexible and customized to the needs of each organization.
  • Provide a personal valuable experience to the customer.
  • Difficult to copy.

Gamification in marketing in the form of a social challenge on the web is a way through which people can communicate with their friends, while having to stay at home or in isolation.

These challenges are based on topics that everyone feels they can connect to in some way, and in order to succeed they must give real value to the users (even if it’s just ‘stupid’ entertainment value aimed at alleviating loneliness.)

Charities, non-profit and for-profit organizations can certainly offer real value, easy to implement and easy to distribute, so whoever experiences the challenge is challenged to ‘play it forward’.

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How to plan a social challenge on social media?

The magic formula I developed (and proved myself) for creating social impact is:

IMPACT = .COM
Critical mass + Organized cooperation + Momentum

Critical Mass – the goal is to reach a wide audience that will be the point of no return. From here on out the challenge you have created will have a life of its own. The exact number varies of course from challenge to challenge. The broader the organized collaboration and the more involved factors and sectors involved, the greater the chances of success.

Organized Cooperation – including cooperation between sectors: government, business and education. The more social and stakeholder organizations involved in the challenge the more likely it is to succeed. If each small or medium-sized association has a community of supporters of between 1000-2000 members, then the cooperation of several associations together will make it possible to reach a critical mass of 10,000 people at the initial point in time. By the way, if possible, this should include real life events in the form of ‘O2O’ where people can meet and share their experience, e.g. an evening Gala, a swimming challenge, a Marathon etc., where the participants donate to the organization and relate to the cause in any form possible.

The invitation to take part in #Challenge 18 was made on social media (Facebook and LinkedIn) and the groups included a wide variety of people, from teachers, through members of social organizations, government representatives, academics, members of the US Transhumanism Party (USTP), non-profits working with the United Nations and even some of the speakers of the Ted talks I chose for the challenge.

Momentum – the amount of time you must put in the most effort to actually grab the attention of the media and your target audiences so that they will accept your calling for action and embrace it. It also includes the virality vector, setting how fast the challenge can grow global.

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3 Tips for Building a Viral Social Challenge

Choose your topic of challenge carefully

Your challenge should be fun, easy to perform and accessible. It should be simple enough so that each participant can perform it. It should take participants up to 20-30 minutes from start to finish to take a photo, write or watch a video in order to complete the challenge, and of course, the challenge can last several days.

In the case of #Challenge18 the “up to 30 min” law still applies at the daily level. Participants invest in the challenge 10-20 minutes a day. There are notebook for writing exercises or watching Ted talks.

Choose an appropriate name for the challenge

Your challenge name should be fun and something that people can easily remember. Avoid multiplying characters or words within the hashtag #, as participants may misspell it.

It can be tempting to call a challenge by the name of the organization or by another creative name, but it is better to keep it simple, and one that reflects the actions performed.

Share it with friends and influencers

Create dedicated content that participants can share at the end of the challenge, along with the appropriate hashtag.

Also, once you have raised your challenge, encourage your friends to participate by tagging them. This is especially true if you have friends who are content creators who are willing to take part and tag the challenge.

It is recommended to use influencers who identify with the content and activities of your organization. For example, in #Challenge18, I contacted some of the speakers of the Ted talks I chose for the challenge and they happily agreed to join.

By the way, #Challenge18 continues to run even today and you are welcome to join it.

The challenge is free and suitable for anyone who is willing to challenge himself and is interested in taking part in an interesting and diverse group of people. The challenge is particularly suited to change agents and sustainability professionals. As well as to teachers who seek to strengthen the emotional resilience of their students, and to students who want to make a significant impact on society.

Read more of the CHallenge18 in my previous article in TOI – BREAKING: Challenge 18

  You can join the challenge at the following link:

https://www.mop.education/tool/ting-18-challenge

About the Author
Sharon Gal Or – Israeli Ambassador at U.S. Transhumanist Party. An Innovation, Sustainability & Leadership Management Strategist on creative education to government, non-profits, education, and arts bodies. Lectures in various international circles, leading and hosting training programs globally.
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