This month in Facebook virtual challenges… March 2022

Dan Papworth-Smyth
4 min readApr 4, 2022

Observations of what’s going on in the world of Facebook virtual challenges

For this month’s update we’ll start things off with a snapshot of the scale of Facebook challenges taking place in the US…

‘The American Cancer Society generated $19.5 million from Facebook Challenges…’

https://www.peertopeerforum.com/2022-digital-first-peer-to-peer-study/

It’s not entirely clear over what time period but the context of the article implies that it was within 2021. I’ve not been able to get the source data for this, but looking at their Facebook Page they’ve got more than 50 challenge-based Groups which were created in 2021 with almost 140,000 combined members. This would equate to an average per Group/event as $390,000 assuming that they haven’t already deleted any Groups. Which lines up closely with GivePanel’s benchmark for income per event based on data between early 2020 and mid 2021 on their platform ($350,000).

Splitting challenges by state or region, and having multiple different activities across the year is a really interesting approach and definitely one that is benefitted by the larger potential audience there.

Just some of the American Cancer Society’s Groups
  • Back to the UK and Ireland and while I’ve been seeing fewer Facebook challenges recruiting this month (April events) than in my last update (38 vs 50), it’s still above February 2022 levels (35) and the same as August and September 2021 combined. That’s now over 140 challenge Groups between January and April…
  • Walks and step challenges are still making up the bulk of challenges out there, with more than half of those I found. However, similarly to February there has been a resurgence in fitness challenges (squats, burpees, press ups etc) which this month have made up a quarter of those I’ve seen. That trend is already looking like it is continuing with 20% of Groups set up already for May events, and 50% of June events in this category too.
  • I’ve also continued to see a decline in average Group membership, dropping 40% from February 2022 to March 2022, and a fall of 30% between March 2022 and April 2022. Are we seeing participants being spread out across the growing choice of events? Is the algorithm struggling to find new participants at the rate at which new events are hitting the market?
  • The week before last it was also the second GivePanel’s Social Fundraising Summit, this time held in person in Dublin. While I wasn’t there it was good to see the conversation online including some words of wisdom from Adrian O’Flynn on keeping innovation going and not relying solely on the ideas that you know work (thanks to Fay at Catnip Comms for sharing this insight).
  • It’s been great to see some examples of some excellent event-specific rewards in action from the Bone Cancer Research Trust and Guide Dogs UK. I’m loving the different directions people are taking with rewards and incentives and medals like this are definitely eye catching and a bit special, and the socks look great and feel more useful longer term. With more and more participants already having received tops and vests for either the same charity, or another organisation’s challenge, diversifying could potentially become a way to stand out as the market matures.
  • It’s great to start seeing more video used in acquisition ads for these challenges now. I thought this below example from Cancer Research UK for their squat challenge was excellent, and know we’re likely to see more as organisations look to make their acquisition cut through.
  • This 10,000 Steps a Day in Ramadan 2022 challenge is a great example from the Muslim Charity about how you can take your challenges out of the month format. By doing so, they’ve made it more relevant for their target audience
  • I’m writing this at the end of March and already there are 17 Groups live for Facebook challenges taking place in May (update: as of 4 April there are at least 29 already) with at least 4 charities running simultaneous challenges this month. We’ve also got continuations in the back-to-back challenge offerings from Cancer Research UK (6 in 4 months, with a 7th and 8th already created for June challenges!), Great Ormond Street (5th in 4), and Macmillan (4th in 4). Looks like it’s going to be another busy month!

Missed my February 2022 update? Check it out here and if you find these useful, please share it.

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Dan Papworth-Smyth

Head of Digital Engagement at @BreastCancerNow, formerly of Breast Cancer Care and @TeenageCancer. Sometimes I take photos too. Views are my own.