What the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Can Teach Us About Viral Social Marketing

What the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Can Teach Us About Viral Social Marketing


By now, you know someone who knows someone who’s done the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This is an example of a marketer’s dream come true: a campaign that blows up virtually over night.

Let’s take a look at why this social media marketing campaign went viral, and how you can apply some of these successful elements to boost awareness of your own business or organization through social media.

But first, a bit of back ground. Contrary to popular belief, the ALS Association did not originally start The Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s actually unknown who the exact person is that started it, but the movement sparked immense popularity after Peter Frates, a former Boston College baseball captain who suffers from ALS started Tweeting about the challenge to support ALS awareness in the Spring, and completed it himself in the first week of August 2014. This was the ice-cold splash heard ‘round the world.

After Frates’ challenge in Fenway Park was publicized on social media, ALS awareness and fundraising skyrocketed to astronomical heights. The challenge immediately reached celebrity athletes, iconic musicians, and even President Obama by the end of the month. In 29 days the ALS Assoc. received 88.5 million in donations nation wide from nearly two million people, and the numbers continue to rise.

Now, back to answering the question of what made this social media campaign so successful:

1. It supports a good cause

It’s obvious, nonprofit organizations and charity campaigns like these do so well because everyone who supports it, know their supporting a good cause. Remember the Movember phenomenon? It may be fading now, but the reason why men started rocking mustaches in the early 2000’s like it was 1972, is because it was intended to raise awareness about men’s health issues like prostate cancer and severe depression.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, is working much like that today, but for ASL (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) disease—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in which the condition completely debilitates all motor function of those who are diagnosed.

2.  People are almost powerless when it comes to peer pressure


So not only are ultra famous people doing the challenge, your friends, family, coworkers and even the neighborhood kids are doing it. If every one in your circle is doing it, and blasting on social media no less, how would you look if you didn’t? (Not good, that’s how.)

3. It’s fun, funny, and easy


It may be a bit played out by now, but there’s no denying that videos of people having a harmless freak out are hilarious and entertaining to watch. Not only that, A-list celebs have taken the entertainment aspect to the next level with major production value. Check out this Ice Bucket Challenge video completed by Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters (issued by fellow musician Zach Brown), who then challenged John Travolta, Jack Black, and Stephen King.  But you don’t need to a production team to make a great video. With today’s technology it’s super simple and easy to execute, making it doable for anyone with a smartphone (or access to one.)

4. It’s the marketing movement making it ‘round the world

The rules of the challenge have staying power that keeps going, and going, and going… When someone completes the challenge, they have to issue three more to be done within 24-hours, passing the “good cause torch” to others. Even if the new challengers don’t follow through, awareness still spreads like wildfire.

With the tremendous amount of attention and participation this campaign has received now on a global scale, there’s no denying the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has successful elements you can apply to your next social media campaign for your business.

Still not sure how to spark your own social media marketing movement? Then let us help you at Social Spice Media with stellar social marketing expertise , and cutting-edge media services.

For more information on how we can help improve your social media outreach, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call us direct at (805) 482-8312, or, email us at info@socialspicemedia.com.

Virtual friends are good, but the real deal is better. You’re always welcome for a visit at our office located in Camarillo, California. If not, let’s link up on your favorite social media site–we’d love to connect.