What makes a hashtag go viral?

The latest no make-up selfie trend didn’t begin as a campaign to raise money for cancer. Noone is quite sure why it caught on, but over the past few days more and more women have been joining in.

girl-taking-no-make-up-selfieOverwhelming support for cancer research

The trend involves ladies posting photos of themselves online minus make-up, along with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie and donating to a cancer charity.

Due to the overwhelming amount of donations, Cancer Research UK set up a text message number to make donating easier.

The no make-up campaign has been criticised

Amazingly the campaign has not been without its criticism, with some people saying the trend is a negative thing and focuses on vanity and emotion, rather than on practical help for cancer research.

If you ask me, this is crazy and the trend is a very positive thing. It’s about women being strong, comfortable in themselves and proud. If it helps women make a stand together, as well as raising huge sums of money for cancer it should be applauded.

So far over £2 million has been raised through the no makeup selfie hashtag. That’s incredible.

What makes a hashtag go viral?

Unfortunately there is no golden formula to this question, or everyone would be doing it. Why the no make-up selfie trend has done so well is that it is something that every woman can identify with, it’s easy to join in, there’s the feel good element of helping a worthy charity, and it can also feel very liberating (to some!)

Here are 5 key steps needed to go viral

viral-hashtags1. Keep it visual

A picture says a thousand words, and the most successful posts online are those that include an image. Tweets with an image are twice as likely to be retweeted. That’s a pretty solid statistic in favour of using an image.

2. Timing is important

The time of day you send your message can impact the amount of views it gets. You need a lot of views to set a trend going. 5pm is a popular time on Twitter for retweets, with a large peak in activity as people log on after work.

3. Ask for help

It might be obvious, but asking people to retweet, share or join in with something works really well. Most people are nice and want to help. If you ask politely, chances are they will assist you with raising the profile of what you want to do.

4. Keep your message short

Most people are busy and time is precious, whatever it’s used for. If your message is quick to read, people are more likely to engage with it than lots of words they might skip over.

5. Identify with as wide an audience as possible

The more people who understand your message and have an interest in what you are saying, the more they will engage with it and you will have a greater chance of going viral.

New online trends come and go every day. The no make-up selfie hashtag has been around several days now and it is still going strong. Whatever the reason for the trend starting, it has helped a very worthwhile cause and demonstrates the immense power of social media.


*Images courtesy of Esther Vargas (Flicker) and ImagaryMajestic (Freedigitalphotos.net)

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