One was all anyone talked about for about a month, the other is still talked about long after its viral campaign ended. Why did one succeed so astronomically and the other fade into mainstream obscurity?
Social media and it’s wavering attention span, the powerful tool that can prove empathetic and apathetic depending on the discourse; and the power of the people that decides whether a social activist cause fails or flies.
And social media’s role in activism and social revolutions is the perfect tool for facilitating these movements, organising and rallying masses of people to action, whether it be in riot form, charity form or raising awareness for recent issues. Add in an enticing game/challenge, people are hooked, and can often forget what this trending phase is even about.
And as Morozov pointed out, these digital sites are just tools. Social changes, war and conflict, raising awareness for disease research via viral ice buckets will still occur without it through other means of communication and interaction. A lot more happens behind the scenes of a YouTube video that has 100 million views, a longer, more complicated process that went unnoticed and continues to this day. (Morozov 2011)
Over 2 million ALS videos were made, 28 million people were generating buzz on social media, mostly over water conservation, over 28 days it garnered $85 million dollars and more continued after, research has been funded and will be for quite some time. In 2015, The ALS Association’s remake of the craze this year earned only $1 Million, compared to last years total of $115 Million. The craze died down, and once a social media activism craze shuts down, there is no resurrecting it.
References and Further Readings
Morozov, E (2011) ‘ Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’ The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber-utopians
Owyang, J (2014) ‘Icebucket Challenge: The Cold Hard Facts and Stats’ Slideshare