#10YearChallenge: Seeing Beyond The Photos – Omotayo Sobayo

I fired up my Twitter app like every other day only to discover the hashtag – #10YearChallenge was trending as number one. Not just in Nigeria, but globally. On Instagram, it was a slightly different hashtag – #10YearsChallenge. Other hashtags that accompanied it were: #GlowUpChallenge and #HowDidAgeHitYou.

As a digital native, all my digi-senses suddenly became active. So I did the most appropriate thing. I was never going to jump on a trend till I knew its source.

First, I headed over to Google Trends to see if people had taken the same action I was about to take; querying Google for the 10 Year Challenge subject. Lo and behold, trending at number three, it already had 2000+ searches in Nigeria as you can see below:

This reinforced my decision to query Google with the following keywords:

– 10 Years Challenge

(Nothing attractive popped up besides the news of Nigerian celebrities who jumped on the trend)

– “10 Years Challenge” with the quotes

(Similar results as above)

– “10 years” + “challenge”

(Same ol’ results)

– inurl: 10 Years Challenge

(Results were lightyears away from what I wanted.)


After my frantic efforts, I switched to incognito mode and dumped the same keywords into Google’s search box again. This time, the major difference was that foreign celebrities topped the results. I swore, I could have kicked Google’s algorithm in the butt.

Just so you know, the trend might likely to have been started by Facebook itself. This is because no other popular social media platform would have been able to accommodate pictures from 10 years ago.

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Instagram was released in October, 2010. It’s only going to hit 9 years this year. No way a 10 year old picture would have been on it.

Twitter which was released in March, 2006 is not designed as a photo-sharing app so definitely, couldn’t have spearheaded the digital engagement.

Without doubt, Facebook fits the profile. Released in February, 2004, with photo-sharing functionality, it has more old pictures of its users compared to Instagram.

Beyond the Photos

The question is: Why would Facebook come up with such strategy and how sure were they that it would drive such massive engagement? (If they happened to have spearheaded the trend)

    Rule of Thumb: You can hardly predict what can go viral on social media.

It’s no longer news that the app has recorded usage decline in recent times. According to a study from Pew Research Center, 42% of Facebook users have taken a break from the platform. More surprisingly, 26% of users had deleted the mobile app from their phones. In simple words… Facebook had become stale and users didn’t feel secure on the platform anymore.

Unarguably, Facebook logins spiked due to this digital trend. Lots of internet users dived back into the app to retrieve old pictures of themselves to join the #10YearChallenge global train on other platforms. Could this have been good or bad for the platform? I’ll return to that in a moment.

Perhaps, the major question we should ask is why would people go through the effort of retrieving old pictures to join a global digital trend?

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It’s just two words – influence and feel-good feeling! Oops… I guess that’s more than two.

Celebrities helped spread the awareness of the trend globally. With massive numbers of active followers, the trend caught on quickly and seeped into all social networks.

And, of course, social media is about sharing and telling your stories through good content. It wouldn’t hurt to share a throwback photo to show the world how much you’ve changed over the years. And then, the funny comments that came along. 😂

Back to the question I asked earlier: Could this have been a successful digital engagement trend for Facebook?

Well, as far as I know, it was a successful initiative to get people back into the app to source for old photos. But beyond that, users would still not dwell on the platform if there’s really nothing engaging to interact with. Most especially, if their privacy is still at stake.

Through my research, the major reason millennials have migrated from the app is because they crave more privacy. Perhaps, if Facebook works on this, there might be more improvement in engagement besides the Messenger app which millenials have come to prefer. This is also because it helps shield their privacy and keeps them connected with old friends.

I believe we’ve barely scratched the surface of digital. There’s still a lot to learn and glean off successful strategies. I also strongly feel that the #10YearChallenge would also help social networks update their facial recognition systems. A lot of development happens in 10 years.

Meanwhile, here’s my throwback photo from 6 years ago. I couldn’t find a 10 year old photo as I wasn’t on Facebook then. If I’m correct, I opened my Facebook account in 2012.

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Omotayo Sobayo is a Digital Marketer, Content Developer, Digital Strategist and EdTech Enthusiast

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