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What you can learn from the 10 year challenge?

Whether they include blindfolded escapades, a spoonful of cinnamon, shaking like a harlem or standing still as a mannequin, challenges have a way of ruling the internet. So as we kick off 2019 it’s almost fitting that the year is led by yet another viral social media phenomenon, this time tapping into our new year’s focus on self improvement.

The #10yearchallenge has been making the rounds on all social media platforms worth their salt, and is being taken on by just about every celebrity you have ever heard of (and many you have not). But part of the joy of this challenge is just how easy it is to get involved, leading to mass participation from all social media users.“But what on Earth is it?”, I hear you ask, “and why does this have anything to do with SEO and search?” Let’s get our teeth into the internet’s newest viral social content and how your business can get involved.

What you can learn from the 10 year challenge?

What is the 10 year challenge?

Much like the title suggests, the 10 year challenge is a simple side by side comparison over a decade. The social post consists of a photo of you from 2009 and one from 2019, clearly showing any differences, or dare we say it, aging. It’s usually accompanied by some sort of cheeky repartee that outlines how satisfied you are with your ‘journey’ thus far.

The challenge has also been called “glow-up challenge”, “2009 vs 2019” or “How Hard Did Aging Hit You” and can be found primarily on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Currently #10yearchallenge has 4,145,682 posts on Instagram, with many more appearing in close variations.

Why and how did the 10 year challenge start?

Like most viral social media challenges, it’s difficult to say with certainty.

Some think that the 10 year challenge sprang from Facebook’s ‘memories’ feature, which regularly reminds users of old photos so many years from the current date. In other theories, 2009 was a significant year for social media and the internet age in general, so the 10 year challenge could be a celebration of a decade’s social media growth.

The first celebrity to take part seems to have been TV meteorologist Damon Lane, who posted his 10 year challenge on Jan. 11..

As to why people are taking part, quite simply it’s good fun!

There was another, creepier origin story…

Some commentators were less than thrilled at the new viral challenge, and had some more sinister theories about its origin.

This tweet by Kate O’Neil and her follow-up article in Wired raised the suggestion that the #10yearchallenge may be a convenient way for Facebook to train it’s facial recognition algorithms. Specifically it would help algorithms to learn how faces age over a set decade period so that more accurate deductions could be made in the future. Certainly, it’s a lucrative market to get into as governmental demand for high quality facial recognition looks likely to increase in the coming years.

…but it is being rebutted

There has been popular push back against this idea. Many argue that Facebook already has access to the photos uploaded onto profiles, so they could easily do a facial recognition training exercises with or without the help of a 10 year challenge – whether this is a comforting thought or not no one has yet to comment on.

Whether it was initiated by Facebook or not, Kate O’Neil makes a convincing argument that the 10 year challenge has provided facial recognition algorithms with a  clean data source with which to train the broadest possible selection of participants.

Can businesses get involved with the 10 year challenge?

The simple answer is yes, absolutely!

Taking part in a viral social media event can be a good way to garner a greater social media presence and promote your brand. Other than it just being a fun way to interact with your followers, there are some specific ways that the 10 year challenge can be used to help your business marketing strategy.

The 10 year challenge is particularly attractive as it allows brands to:

  • Succinctly demonstrate what services you offer: The 10 year challenge gives you three elements to work with: two comparison photos and a tagline. Get creative and find a way to paint a clear picture of what your company in a snappy engaging social post. Remember that the simpler your message the more effective it will likely be for the scrolling social media audience.
  • Show off your success over the past decade: Your comparison photos are a brilliant opportunity to do a bit of humble bragging about how far you have come. Again simplicity with some clever or humerous overtones will work well. Good examples are comparisons of logo changes. This was aptly showcased by Windows logo progression post, or even Crocs ironic demonstration that for them nothing has changed – they provide the same iconic quality. Find a tone that works with your brand persona.
  • Create affinity with your brand: The 10 year challenge is meant to be fun. This makes it the perfect opportunity to further promote your brand image and interact with your followers in an intimate and entertaining way. In other words make sure your effort embraces the spirit of your brand but also the spirit of the challenge – don’t take it too seriously but see it as an opportunity to make an impression.

Above all remember that viral success is always to some extent down to chance, but it’s much easier to attempt it in line with a trend than to start out on a limb. As far as the 10 year challenge goes, it’s definitely worth getting involved. Even if you only get shared amongst your existing followers it’s a chance to deepen your connection – and you never know, you could end up breaking the internet!

Some great examples

To finish let’s have a look at some of the best examples of the 10 year challenge so far.

Reese’s #10yearchallenge is arguably the most shared celebrity effort across social media, and here it is:

However by far the most powerful 10 year challenges have come from calls for climate change and environmental awareness. The following examples speak for themselves.

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Cathy Breed
Cathy Breed About the author

With a degree from Downing College at Cambridge University and experience as a Marketing Executive in London Cathy comes to the Castleford Blog with a reputation for deep research and high-level subject-matter expertise. Her current writing portfolio covers artificial intelligence, financial services, the property sector and not-for-profits. Clients include Stackchat, Surf Life Saving New South Wales, Fiserv and Investa.

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