Lessons Learned From The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge About Effective Marketing

Ice_Bucket_ChallengeContributed by: Gloria Lin

What’s truly remarkable about the notorious challenge is the lessons in marketing we can take away. Because whether you like it or not, the ALS Bucket Challenge has successfully demonstrated the power of effective marketing through social media. Here are just a few of the factors that fuel its fire so you can incorporate them into your next social media campaign:

(1) It’s simple

“Keep it simple, stupid” is heard all too often, but it’s all too true. At the heart of the ALS bucket challenge’s success is its success. The rules are simple: you get nominated, and within 24 hours must pour a bucket of ice water over your head or donate $100 to the ALS Association. You keep the cycle going by tagging three more people, and the trend continues. From its rules to its associated hashtags (#IceBucketChallenge #ALSIceBucketChallenge), everything about the challenge is short and sweet, so people can participate, engage, share, and most importantly: remember the cause.

(2) It’s personal

If you don’t know what ALS is, all the information you need to know is on the ALS Association website. Essentially, it’s a disease that affects your brain’s nerve cells and spinal cord as you gradually become paralyzed. With around 30,000 Americans affected, there’s a chance you know someone who has it. If not, the challenge is designed to raise awareness of what ALS feels like. When doused in freezing water, you may feel numb and/or struggle to breathe, both of which occur when you have ALS. The challenge makes the struggle of those with ALS personal, so you can raise awareness and understand what others are going through at the same time.

(3) It’s got entertainment value

Some call the ice bucket challenge the new selfie, and for good reason. People get creative with their challenges, but even the no-frills videos are fun. Who doesn’t want to see others get doused in cold water? It’s the perfect prank, except you’re doing it to yourself, and it’s quick to watch. Tying this back to your marketing campaign: it’s quick and it’s entertaining, meaning viewers are more likely to want to see it again, and subsequently remember it.

(4) It utilizes multimedia

You surely know by now the importance of incorporating multimedia in your marketing: visuals grab user attention, and a dynamic mix of media types can increase consumer engagement. The same goes for the ALS Bucket Challenge: whether you’re posting a video on Instagram/Vine/Facebook/YouTube, or you’re uploading a screenshot image of your donation, it’ll catch people’s attention. When you factor in mixed media to the equation instead of just text, you’re reaching more consumers, which can increase engagement and conversions!

(5) It’s got a quick turnaround time on a public sphere

With just 24 hours for those you tag to respond, people are forced to engage. Whether it’s to avoid being publicly shamed if you don’t respond, or because you truly care about ALS research, there are countless reasons to engage within the allotted time. When the world’s waiting for you to step onstage, it’s difficult to say no. The peer pressure to jump on bandwagons like the Ice Bucket Challenge can often be strong enough to get new consumers!

The ALS Association has raised millions of dollars through its simple but viral challenge, but by no means does it have to be unique. With the right amount of analysis, it is completely possible to duplicate its success to start your own viral social media campaign.

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