It’s hard get on the internet these days without seeing somebody pour a bucket of ice on their head. These seemingly foolish people are raising awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease); a terrible disease that slowly deteriorates a person’s ability to move before inevitable death. Celebrities involved in the challenge include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Charlie Sheen.
The ice bucket challenge has received over $20 million since it started, a multiple of the $1.8 million figure raised during the same campaign period last year for ALS association. Research for ALS is chronically underfunded. ALS is a horrible disease that is difficult to research and understand. In spite of this, money is not easily raised for the cause. ALS research has been hurt because past research has not yielded much in the way of results and also because not that many people are afflicted with the disease.
The ice bucket challenge is one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns in recent memory. It hard to ever know why something went viral on the internet. Here are some of the identifiable elements that helped it go viral.
One reason the ice bucket challenge is such that it puts a personal face on an abstract problem. The campaign started to support Pete Frates, former captain of Boston College’s baseball team. Friend’s of Frates posted videos of themselves doing the ice bucket challenge and challenged their friends to do the same or donate money to the cause. The ALS association created a personally relatable story by discussing Frates’ case. It is much easier to get people involved in a cause that has a face. This is one reason why so much marketing is done around personal testimonials.
The ice bucket challenge is quite popular because it is conducive to social media. Friends who are challenged either complete the task or donate to the charity. The appeal is simplicity that does not leave person challenged with terrible options. People can either give in to peer pressure or donate a small sum of money to charity. It would be much harder for the campaign to go viral if the challenge included donating thousands of dollars to charity.
The ice bucket challenge could not be much easier to understand. Pour ice water on your head or donate money. Rules can not get much simpler than this.
This Ice Bucket challenge shows how well viral marketing campaigns can work. The lessons learned from this social media success can duplicated for other online marketing campaigns.