Early in 2013, a popular hashtag was trending on twitter, #firstworld problems. This was used to jokingly exaggerate the extent to which minor inconveniences affect us from day to day. Many were offended as the trend undermined the legitimacy and the true nature of problems faced by third-world countries. The trend quickly became viral and turned into a meme. A large fanbase was built around it and people were using the hashtag everyday. One organization that decided to take action against these issues was WATERisLIFE. WATERisLIFE is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring clean water to areas that need it most. WATERisLIFE had been struggling with gathering mainstream support from people. They decided to capitalize on the #firstworld problems trend and attempted to gain awareness and support. Their plan was to put to rest the trend instead of starting a new one from scratch. This was a daring move but ultimately achieved huge success.
The problem was clear: WATERisLIFE was in critical need of awareness and support. They saw an opportunity in a popular trend that arose on the internet and capitalized on it. Their next step was to develop tactics in order to implement their strategic communications plan. They decided to develop a web documentary that showed victims on poor living conditions reading different jokes with the hashtag, “first world problems”.
The video was an instant success and gained over a million views. The video ended with a simple and powerful message that was used in hopes to end the “first world problems trend”. The message read, “First world problems… Aren’t problems.” As of now, the video has almost 5 million views on YouTube. The success of the campaign did not end with the amount of views. WATERisLIFE received the mainstream awareness it had hoped for. In addition to this, they received over 1 million days worth of clean water for poor communities.
The non-profit organization reached its goal and then some. While it is difficult to completely end an online trend, they did a great job building a force of supporters to combat it. The mass amount of views allowed them to convert many viewers into more active supporters. I think this is a fantastic example of a social media strategic plan. What WATERisLIFE did was truly revolutionary and inspiring. While many organizations attempt to create trends in order to promote themselves or their products, WATERisLIFE attempted to end an offensive one. This was an extremely risky move that posed a huge threat of backlash from internet users. We all know how the internet is lurking with many users who aim to target organizations with negative movements. Despite this, the campaign was met with a large positive response. This clearly paves the way for many campaigns such as this in the future. I am vey eager to see ways in which organizations take advantage of opportunities like this in the future. It is one thing to capitalize on a popular trend in a supportive fashion, but to completely contradict something that has such a huge following is truly admirable.