Not only was Justin Bieber the first person to have three #1 records before his 18th birthday, he has also just created the powerful viral message ever recorded. His 18 million Twitter Followers Tweeted or ReTweeted the message “Setting a world record for @justinbieber!” and contributed more than $47,000 to a charity which provides clean drinking water to people in need.
Bieber fans smashed the previous record for a viral charity message which was set in 2009 with the hashtag #beatcancer. This message was started by cancer charity Everywhere and was Tweeted more than 209,000 within 24 hours. By comparison, the Bieber fans sent his message out more than 200,000 times by 9:30 a.m. on March 1 and went on to add another 150,000 messages before the end of the day.
Now, the fact that Bieber has more than 18 million Twitter Followers certainly cannot be overlooked. His appeal to young girls certainly increases his ability to make a message go viral, but it’s important to also note, they raises almost $50,000 in a day. That means whomever was seeing his messages, or just passing them along, young girls or not, was willing to reach into their pocket and contribute.
The capacity of social media users to do good things simply cannot be overstated. The fact that viral messaging can be used to leverage that capacity to fund worthy causes is even better. However, just because viral messaging works for charity causes does not mean you can set out tomorrow and create a viral message to promote your company, brand or product. That’s like saying, “Hey the Salvation Army collects millions with their red kettles and bell ringers. I think I’ll do the same thing!”
Not all viral messages are the same. In the end it is your specific end-goal which is what really motivates people to share. A gag video goes viral because it is spontaneously funny. Your gag video might not if it seems to be pandering or promoting a corporate entity.
Before you set out with the goal of creating a viral message ask yourself: “What’s the end game?” If your cause is worthy, the crowd will do the work for you. If your cause is self-serving, you’ll have to be much more savvy in how you culture it.
Justin Bieber’s fans marked his 18th birthday on March 1 by raising money for charity. They may also have broken a world record for the most widespread social media message.
The record to break was 209,771, and if the count is accurate, or even in the ballpark, then Beliebers have blown it away with 322,224 as of 9:09 p.m. March 1, according to @JBWorldRecord, which directed Bieber’s faithful to retweet this message, without any alteration: “Setting a world record for @justinbieber!” Fans went through prompts at a birthday site for the pop singer, which has since closed for submissions. Fans were also encouraged to donate $18 to charity:water, which provides clean water to those in need.
For his 17th birthday, his followers raised $47,148 to bring clean water to more than 2,357 people. This year, $12,621 has been raised so far.