If you are a social media-holic, chances are that in the last 2 weeks, you would have chanced upon a video of a celebrity, or an athlete, or a politician dumping buckets of ice and water over their heads. I wouldn’t blame you if you already started wondering if this is a collective attempt towards beating global warming! Well, before you stretch your imagination further, here’s what this ice bucket fuss is all about.
A fundraiser and awareness campaign for the ALS Association, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has taken social media by storm since it popped off on July 29, with more than 176,000 people tweeting about it in the past seven days alone. The rules of the challenge are simple: once challenged, a participant has 24 hours to either dump a bucket of ice water over their head, or donate $100 to the ALS charity of their choice. To enhance the outreach and spread awareness further, every participant must then nominate three more people to either take the challenge or pay up.
While there are critics pointing out that the viral nature of this fad appears centered around an aversion to giving of money, I would say that the campaign has done a fabulous job given that a growing list of celebrities including business stalwarts such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates (see below) and Jeff Bezos have participated in this social media fundraising initiative. Also, according to the ALS Association, more than 70,000 new donors have given money to one of its 38 chapters since July 29, contributing to a grand total of $4 million in donations during this same period (compared to only $1.12 million during the same period last year.) leaving little doubt that this initiative has been a massive success!
What caught my attention however is the reason behind the euphoric and emotional response to this campaign. I believe that the brains behind this campaign have taught us four important lessons on how to run a successful viral social media campaigns:
1) Relate to a Cause -The objective behind the campaign was to help raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease while raising funds. History says that any marketing campaign that is associated with a cause which strikes an emotional chord with the target audience does well.
2) Be Simple -The Ice Bucket Challenge is very simple. All it needs for one to participate is a smart device and a social media account – which is just about everyone these days. Leaving aside the cost of the ice and the amount involved in the donation, the entry to be a part of the awareness campaign is essentially free, and the humiliation factor is extremely minimal.
3) Have Fun – When you’re interacting with your social community, it’s important to have fun, so long as your business type allows it. Therefore, it should be no surprise that people enjoy entertaining and fun-loving engagement. The Ice Bucket Challenge did enough to tickle people’s senses.
4) Endorsers – Any successful viral campaign gives the end users a voice and an active role in the campaign and the Ice Bucket Challenge did exactly that.
This is not rocket science. A vast majority of marketers already knows this, but even the best ones have a hard time actually getting it right!