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The Ice Bucket Challenge and the Power of Social Media

By Kristin Kennedy, - July 3, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-07-03 at 8.41.36 AMDespite its chilly challenge, the Ice Bucket Challenge was the hottest trend on social media in 2014. But it was much more than just a trend, in fact, a recently released report from an independent research organization reported that donations from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled the ALS Association to increase its annual funding for research around the world by 187%. That’s more than one hundred million dollars more than the year before! So why was this such a success and what does it mean for you as a marketer?

 

What Was the Ice Bucket Challenge?

In case you were living under a rock during the summer of 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge went something like this: The person thanked whoever nominated them for the challenge, they mentioned and/or spoke about donating to ALS research, they nominated others to partake in the challenge, then they poured a bucket of ice water over their head, and finally they uploaded their video to social media. Ideally, the challenge had to be answered within 24 hours. 

 

Why Was It So Successful?

  1. The challenge played into people’s vanity. I know this sounds extremely cynical, but this is the reality of social media. I mean you don’t upload a bad selfie, do you? You upload that selfie where you know you look good! The same concept applies here, the challenge made people look good and gave them a sense of belonging. That being said, the videos themselves still served a great cause.
  2. Speaking from experience, it was fun. I am a big baby when it comes to cold water (I blame living in Florida for 15 years) and I still had a blast gathering my friends to shoot the challenge together. Plus people came up with all sorts of crazy and creative ways to take part in the challenge. This brought a sense of joy and lightness to a serious condition.
  3. It was simple. All you needed was a device to record your video, a bucket, ice and water. People hate when things get overcomplicated, they get bored and lose interest. 
  4. It capitalized on “word-of-mouth.” The fact that the challenge was not open-ended and people nominated their friends and family directly by tagging them on Facebook or Twitter, was essential to the momentum of the campaign.
  5. It was for a good cause. While there are other social media challenges that had no point to them (looking at you Cinnamon Challenge), the charitable aspect of this challenge allowed for a larger demographic. The money raised from this challenge went to researching a potential cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a neurological disorder in which the motor neurons that control muscle function slowly die. 
  6. It was unique. When most people think of donating to charity, they think of writing a check, running a 5k, or attending a dinner. This challenge was a more unique way of raising awareness, which means that people were much more excited to take part in it.  Also, since it was one of the first of its kind, the novelty of it had not worn off yet.

What Does This Mean For You?

This serves as a perfect case study for the power of social media. It is a platform where word-of-mouth can explode into a global phenomenon. By being creative, engaging, and fun, you can get people involved and talking about your brand, product, or company on social media and generate content that you can leverage.

If you need help navigating the complex world of social media, KBK Communications can help. Our team at KBK Communications helps you establish your social media presence, interact with communities that are relevant to your industry, and build a strategy for each social channel. 
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