Social media trends are a part of our modern world. From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram, we are bombarded on a daily basis with hashtags, trends, and selfies. Much of the time these hashtags and trends can be negative, hate campaigns, self-promotion or even dangerous (can we say #neknomination?) – yet this week we saw the incredible positive power of social media through the harnessing of the #nomakeupselfie and #barefacedselfie.
While the origin of the #nomakeupselfie is unclear, it was Cancer Research charities that quickly saw and seized the opportunity to use a popular trend to raise awareness and raise funds for their cause. Within two days, it was reported that there had been a massive increase in donations to Cancer Research charities with over £2 million pounds being raised through the #nomakeupselfie donations.
Having used social media for years, I loved watching this happen. I saw many a sceptic attack the campaign, and say it was meaningless, pointless, and unimportant. I completely agree that, without an actual action connected to it, very little impact can happen as a result of posting a photo online, However, as I saw my social media feeds fill with many a #nomakeupselfie with the addition of a screenshot of their donation text, I noticed the negativity being drowned out. The sceptics were swiftly hushed as the news reports began to appear of spikes in donations to Cancer Research charities – it seemed like this campaign was actually making a huge difference. As much as it appeared initially to be yet another empty, self-promoting hashtag trend, suddenly social media had flipped it on it’s head and people were actually using it for positive action – a simple text to donate money to a worthy cause.
A friend of mine put it well when they posted their picture, stating that they wouldn’t necessarily have woken up that morning and thought of donating to Cancer Research. Yet, the influx of #nomakeupselfies on their Facebook page had prompted them to ask ‘What’s this all about?’ and made them consider donating. While not everyone will take on a challenge like a marathon, a climb, or even shaving their head for charity – anyone can take a picture, donate via text and nominate a friend. As simple a challenge as it may be – it worked!
Sometimes it’s the simplest of actions that can make the most difference – and by jumping onto a simple (and at the time, meaningless) trend, Cancer Research managed to to reach millions of social media users across the world. Social media makes information accessible and widely shared faster now than every before, and while the next trend on social media may well return everything back to it’s same old ways, there will no doubt be more opportunities like this for charities to harness the power of social media for good!