It all started around 3PM on Thursday when a dad was hanging at home with his 3-week-old baby. This dad’s older son left some Cheerios® on the couch, so dad did the logical thing. He put a Cheerio on his baby boy’s nose. Then he added a second Cheerio, followed by a third. Soon he had stacked five Cheerios®, and he snapped a picture…
Now, it may have ended here for most dads. However, Patrick Quinn turned the photo into a meme and posted it online.
The photo started garnering some attention quickly, and we started to help Patrick in any way that we could. Immediately, users started leaving comments with their own #CheerioChallenge photos, and we started sharing them on Facebook.
We knew we needed a hashtag to allow this challenge to take off across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We started to use the #CheerioChallenge hashtag in every comment and related post from there on. We also began sharing all of the photos (including Quinn’s original) on Twitter and Instagram with #CheerioChallenge.
That evening, posts were scheduled on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for every half hour throughout the night. If we wanted this to really take off, we needed to capitalize immediately. We couldn’t allow it to slow down overnight.
By the time we woke up the next morning, #CheerioChallenge had gone viral. We encouraged our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram teams to focus on the #CheerioChallenge all day long. We dedicated our teams to focus on driving the engagement through responding to messages, comments and submissions on all the disparate Social Channels where #CheerioChallenge appeared.
We used the #CheerioChallenge hashtag everywhere and often. Buzzfeed wrote a column late Friday morning, which really opened up the flood gates.
By mid-day Friday, Cheerios® was joining the party. They were tweeting and commenting with hashtags.
We got a call from General Mills soon thereafter, wanting to begin a formal partnership. By Friday evening, #CheerioChallenge was trending on Facebook and Twitter. People from all around the globe were participating.
In excellent timing, Sunday was Father’s Day, so many publications and TV shows picked it up as a top story. The viral effort has garnered hundreds of millions of impressions and media mentions including The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, USA Today, Buzzfeed, Mashable, and many more.