Five Things the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Taught Digital Marketers


Three days after a wonderful, fun-filled Labor Day Weekend, I turn to my cell phone to see what news was circulating early this morning. Surprisingly, many of my followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook are still posting photos of their own Ice Bucket Challenge. I guess I’m like millions of other Americans wondering if the challenge was a simple flash in the pan, or a very successful viral campaign.

Or, perhaps both?

While many digital marketing experts are dissecting this viral campaign, I am proud to say that I’ve done some research on the impact of the challenge in terms of monetary donations. In the midst of millions of people around the world dumping buckets of ice on their head (in which I, Lance Bachmann and took part in as well: the ALS Association has accepted over $100 million in donations in one month. This amount is more than they typically make in an entire year!  It proves that this viral campaign is paying off in big ways!

What else has the ice bucket challenge taught us?

It’s All About Showing Off on Social Media

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is considered a fad, and that’s alright! There really shouldn’t be any surprise there as social media viral content will eventually run out of steam as people become tired of seeing one minute videos of people dumping buckets of ice on their head. That is exactly what it is supposed to do as all viral campaigns, as well as non-viral campaigns come to an end. Don’t be sad that your viral campaign is ending, be happy that the fad lasted for as long as it did and reached as many people as it did.

Real-Time, Is the Right Time

If there is one thing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge showed, it is that digital marketing departments need to take advantage of “real-time” and strike while the iron is hot. Admit it. You didn’t know what to think when videos of people dumping buckets of ice on their head in support of ALS began showing up on your news feed. Even though the challenge came out of left field, everyone began taking part in the challenge, helping the cause spread like a wildfire. Quick reaction time is essential for a viral marketing campaign.

Social Media Is On, Even During the Dog Days of Summer

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge showed the power of social media, even during the hot August months when people spend less time indoors watching TV and more time outside enjoying the weather. As traditional forms of marketing such as television dipped, social media marketing skyrocketed as everyone took part in the successful challenge. It didn’t hurt that the challenge involved ice cold water during summer, either!

Pestering Friends Also Doesn’t Hurt a Marketing Campaign

The majority of Ice Bucket Challenge nominations came from those who had already completed the challenge and those who challenged their friends to take part as well. As the craze grew, and challenges were made, people were desperate to be a part of one of the most successful viral social media campaigns in history.

Free, Fun, Fantastic Exposure

If you are involved with a charity, you can make your voice be heard by starting a social media campaign. To get the ball rolling, add in a creative activity to entice friends to join along. As the Ice Bucket Challenge showed, even though people did not have to donate if they took part in the challenge, they donated anyway, which is a win-win situation. Charities that are represented through social media campaigns will do well financially and create exposure to a new found audience.

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