Cancer Research UK has experienced first-hand, the power that viral social media can offer, thanks to the #NoMakeUpSelfie Facebook trend. Millions of people have now shared photos of themselves without makeup while texting the word BEAT to 70099 to donate £3 to the charity. The craze started only a few days ago, and did not originate from Cancer Research itself, but the charity amassed £2m in the first 48 hours of the campaign going viral.
Within hours of the first tweet, which is believed to have originated from author Laura Lippman’s picture posted in support of actress Kim Novak, the message had gone viral. Facebook posters were sharing pictures of their make-up free face, often accompanied by a scan of their texted donation confirmation. What’s more, just two days after the original trend started, men have got in on the act too, by donning a full face of makeup and donating themselves.
More than 800,000 people had donated a total of more than £1m within 24 hours, and this figure had doubled after 48 hours. While the campaign will eventually reach saturation point, it is still going strong at the moment and can be held up as testament to the power of social media.
It isn’t just everyday Facebook users that have taken part either. Celebrities like Kym Marsh, Holly Wolloughby and Helen Flanagan have undoubtedly helped to spread the craze, but it is the organic nature of the hashtag, above all else, that seems to have given it life.
Contrived and forced viral marketing can put a lot of potential propagators off and when something so organic grows legs and runs, marketers can really only sit back and admire the potential that social media has to offer. There is no substitute for organic propagation, celebrity endorsement, narcissism, and the lure of a good cause.