How the #CharlieChallenge became a viral phenomenon

Simplicity, swift results and the pervasive sense that there must be ‘something out there’ have sent this game rippling across visual social media channels.

With more than 2.8 million tweets in the last few weeks of May, and no sign of slowing, the hashtag #CharlieCharlieChallenge has become a viral sensation.

Hashtracking.com has been tracking how the hashtag went viral on Twitter and on Instagram, spawning Charlie Charlie Challenge accounts like this.

The hashtag has experienced viral growth primarily on Twitter and Vine, as teens worldwide take the Charlie “Challenge” and share their results.

For the uninitiated, the Charlie Charlie Challenge is a “supernatural” game—part Ouija board, part Magic 8-Ball. It involves two pencils, a sheet of paper, gravity and a hearty dose of imagination.

What makes the #CharlieCharlieChallenge hashtag so ripe for virality?

1. Nostalgia factor

Good, old-fashioned ghost stories. Does the Charlie Challenge sound familiar? Perhaps it reminds you of levitation games, Bloody Mary or a tween-age encounter with a Ouija board? Whether you’re 17 or 75, you probably have heard a similar tale or played a similar game at a slumber party somewhere.

2. Unclear origins

The story is familiar enough to be readily accepted, but unclear enough not to be owned. There’s vague buzz about the challenge arising from a tale about a “Mexican demon” (debunked) and new theories popping up right and left. It’s no wonder that the #CharlieCharlieChallenge game already has an entry on the Snopes urban legend site.

3. Low barrier to entry

All you need to play is a sheet of paper and a couple of pencils. These items are readily available to bored people all over the world.

4. Instagram and Vine opportunities

People out to document the demon, people out to debunk the demon, people out to spoof the phenom, bored people who have run out of excuses to take another selfie—everyone is playing. The game takes less than 10 seconds to play, perfect for a vine or Instagram video capture. Because people act pretty ridiculous when they are freaking themselves out, many of these videos are funny.

5. Charlie is there for you

As with all good viral content, the center of the meme is you, the consumer. Charlie is there to answer your questions. Charlie is there to pay attention to you. Charlie is there to grant you Internet fame.

See the funniest #CharlieCharlieChallenge videos here.

Ciaran Blumenfeld is an entrepreneur, marketing expert and freelance writer. She is a co-founder of Hashtracking.com. A version of this article first appeared on Business2Community.

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Topics: PR

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