Social Media Success Stories
In recent years, viral sensations have become increasingly popular thanks to the growing popularity of social media. What makes these stories intriguing is how quickly a story can spread through social media. Just posting content that people love that entices them to share shows the power of social media. There are plenty of social media success stories but I decided to share two that comes to mind.
Last year during the NBA season, Brandon Armstrong made a name for himself impersonating current NBA players. It all started when he posted a video doing his best Russell Westbrook impersonation where Westbrook has a tendency of driving hard to the basket and getting animated when he falls to the floor looking for a foul. His videos generated tens of thousands of social media shares and increase his fan base to over a million.
“It was one of Armstrong’s least favorite videos so far, truth be told. He didn’t think it particularly funny. And, as if to corroborate this, it was doing nowhere near the numbers of his Kobe Bryant parody (33,000 retweets) or his Russell Westbrook vid (21,000 retweets), the first of his uploads to go viral” (Russell).
Kent Russell from ESPN interviewed Brandon last year to get the scoop on his success and how he gave up basketball to pursue social media fame. Brandon didn’t just start creating content overnight, but was always posting funny videos since middle school. It took one funny video for his breakthrough to occur and instantly turned him into a celebrity; opening the doors for endorsement deals and other media work.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Another social media success is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) , which filled our social media feeds during the summer of 2014. It began with a family that rallied around their son, Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. By August 17, more than 28 million users have shared or commented on videos posted online. Users in countries around the world were participating in the challenge. YouTube reported video uploads from over 150 different countries. $115 million was donated to ALS research during 8 weeks of this challenge (ALS Association). Although the challenge seemed to fade as quickly as it started, it engaged people from all walks of life. The funds raised continue to drive research projects two years later.
The viral nature of this campaign is something brands dream of replicating. But even the success of this challenge couldn’t be repeated when it was launched again in 2015. Participation in social movements is highest with heavy users of social media. Part of the IBC required participants to challenge three people to take the challenge or donate. This is especially effective with participants with a high number of followers on social media, including celebrities. Celebrities not only participated in the cause, but they received additional exposure because of their participation. That became additional incentive to participate.
This campaign was so successful because it included a call to action and made people proud to participate; allowing participants to to replicate and improvise. The clear calls to actions was to dump a bucket of ice over your head OR donate to ALS. Based on the money raised, people were happy to do both. Social media platforms made it possible for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to succeed.