The irony of social media is that it was created to cultivate social connections, yet, it’s proven it can often have the opposite effect: isolating its users.
Many social media platforms only offer glimpses of the best moments in peoples’ lives. Endlessly scrolling through manicured highlight reels has the potential to make users feel inadequate and socially isolated. Indeed, a new study found the use of social media can have negative impacts on its users’ well-being and exacerbate depression and loneliness.
Along with feelings of being inadequate and left out, social media platforms are also flooded with negative content. Emotions are catching, like viruses, and an angry post has the potential to spread through social media networks like the flu. This phenomenon was proven by a recent survey of 700,000 Facebook users that showed people mirror the emotions they encounter online.
With that in mind, overcoming negativity on social media may be as simple as the production of positive content. Not only do P2P challenges do just that, they also curb the worst aspects of social media by encouraging positive, inclusive user engagement.
Brand initiated P2P challenges can promote positive engagement on social media by encouraging connection amongst users, effectively combating isolation and feelings of being left out. The resulting content is created to be shared, and effectively boosts the brand’s social media presence as it generates a spike of engagement in the form of likes and comments.
To date, the most successful P2P challenge has been the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Ice Bucket campaign is a great example of how P2P challenges can take social media by storm and generate massive amounts of positive engagement in the process.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and The Rise of the P2P Challenge
In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge swept through social media, resulting in 1.2 million videos posted to Facebook and 2.2 million to Twitter within a matter of weeks. The campaign produced a massive amount of shareable “wow-factor” content that kept users interested and participating.
One of the reasons the Ice Bucket Challenge was so awe-inspiring is the way it connected people. It didn’t limit itself to one demographic, everyone was dumping ice cold buckets of water over their heads—from teens to great aunts, to Justin Bieber.
The goofy videos of people standing on their lawns and laughing and gasping for air were a big hit. For weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge dominated social media feeds everywhere—encouraging users to engage with one another in a more intimate way than ever before.
Passively liking manicured photo updates was no longer the standard of online interaction. The participants of the ALS Bucket Challenge were made to call each other out by name and unite under a good cause. The result was arguably a less isolating social media experience, as users weren’t only connected by a social network, they were a team.
The Ice Bucket Challenge did not only utilize a P2P challenge to revolutionize the way people interact on social media, it also proved to be a very effective fundraising tool.
Recently, Calaneet Balas, the president of the ALS Association, did a press release that detailed the overwhelming success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Since the inception of the challenge in 2014, the campaign has raised over $115 million. Those funds have allowed researchers to make many breakthroughs, develop successful treatments, and make exciting gains towards a cure.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge also generated a lot of positive buzz for Facebook. A recent study revealed 31% of Americans believe Facebook is impacting society in a negative. However, for a change, the Ice Bucket Challenge put Facebook in the news for a good reason.
Positive P2P challenges like the Ice Bucket Challenge also help generate positive feelings toward social media platforms. In the case of Facebook and the Ice Bucket Challenge, Facebook became a part of a larger cultural conversation about using social media to promote positive change.
The Future of Peer to Peer Challenges
So far we’ve covered that The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge proved that P2P challenges are a powerful tool with not only the ability to boost positive user engagement, but also generate good feelings toward social media platforms, and encourage the creation of positive content.
Now here’s what the future looks like:
In the wake of the Ice Bucket Challenge, other companies have developed their own ways of utilizing the power of P2P challenges. A notable example is Eristica, a Russian-based app that follows the effective “call your friend out by name” model that was used by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Eristica allows its 1.5 million users to challenge each other to dares. For users to successfully complete the challenges, they have to upload video evidence. From there, the video will be posted to the main feed where the other users vote on whether or not the dare was successfully completed. The result is a feed that’s always flooded with positive, viral-worthy content, and supportive, encouraging comments.
This is essentially the embodiment of Facebook’s best-ever few weeks in an app. After the Ice Bucket Challenge, Facebook feeds faded back into the same old “too good to be true” highlight reel updates—gone were the soaked smiles and the calls to action among friends. Eristica adapted a model that promotes a high level of positive user engagement that will never let comradery fade into the background.
The bottom line is that people want to interact with content that makes them feel good.
Yes, social media can be isolating, and people have a tenancy to mirror the negativity they encounter online, but the same is true for positivity—the evidence is the way a campaign for a good cause that spread like wildfire.
P2P challenges may arguably be the best way to encourage positive user engagement because the desire to interact with smile-inducing, entertaining content is coupled with the desire to participate in something as a team. That being said, P2P challenges have the potential to bring social media back to its original purpose, bringing people together.