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4 Marketing Lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Take a Marketing Note from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Inbound MarketingIf you’ve gone anywhere near a social media outlet in the past couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen your friends, their friends, countless celebrities and plenty of others participating in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise money for the ALS Association, an American non-profit that helps spread awareness, increase research and improve patient care for those suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has thus far raised more than $40 million for their organization, an astronomical increase in donations when compared to the money given during the same period last year. This amazing increase is due to over 700,000 new donors, a large majority of which became familiar with the ALS Association through the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So what exactly did the ALS Association get so right with their Ice Bucket Challenge project? How did they get millions of people across the country to not only pay attention, but to also take action? How can you emulate some of this success in your own marketing efforts? We’ve outlined a few key reasons the Ice Bucket Challenge is so successful, as well as some tips for mimicking those elements in your brand’s social media and marketing efforts.

The Challenge is Simple

Everyone is familiar with the act of dumping a bucket of water over someone else’s head. We’ve seen it done in countless slapstick comedies and probably pulled an awesome water bucket prank on a sibling or friend as a child. The simplicity and familiarity of the Ice Bucket Challenge makes it applicable to pretty much everyone; being able to challenge family and friends adds another element of inclusion and encourages participants to spread the word, all of which adds to the ALS Association’s exposure. It gives them the opportunity to raise awareness about the disease among people who might otherwise have never known. And it’s easy!

“Most people have an ice bucket, a smart phone and a social media account. It’s fun, affordable, and you get to include your friends,” says Jim Stengal, a contributing writer at Forbes.

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CEO Bill Faeth, participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Simplicity should not be overlooked when it comes to your brand’s marketing and social media efforts. Crafting an initiative or challenge that the majority of people can recognize, participate in and share with their friends can equal loads more shares, inquiries and new followers.

The Challenge is Sensational

People like content that catches their attention. A video of an always-pressed, perfectly groomed fashion designer allowing someone to dump water over his or her head is going to get engagement and shares because it’s sensational; it draws people’s attention and, the majority of the time, inspires them to share with their friends and family.

Awe is the number one emotion associated with shares of social media content. Being able to create awe in your audience (watch this famous celebrity get ice water dumped on their head!) is a pretty good indicator that they’ll be clicking the “share” button on your content, and you’ll be enjoying far-reaching exposure with new potential followers and brand ambassadors.

The Timing is Impeccable

The Ice Bucket Challenge couldn’t have surfaced at a better time; after all, in the midst of a hot summer, dumping a bucket of cold water over someone’s head is a pretty hilarious response to the heat. The ALS Association’s impeccable timing of the Ice Bucket Challenge shows that they understood how much more likely people were to participate, and share the challenge with their friends, during the hottest month of the year. Their foresight has, of course, garnered tremendous returns for their organization and, hopefully, for patients with ALS.

Similarly, maximizing your brand’s effectiveness on social media means knowing when to strike, whether with a campaign, new content or a challenge or initiative of your own. Knowing your audience and your content well is the easiest way to perfectly time your brand’s social media activity.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Cause

There are a few concepts in the world that humanity, as a whole, generally understands: the birth of a new baby, a college graduation, an engagement ring, an especially beautiful sunset at the end of a long day. We don’t have to be scholars or philosophers to experience joy at these occurrences, and that sense of joy is part of what connects us, human to human, throughout our lives.

Similarly, the life-altering diagnosis of a deadly disease is something with which we can all empathize. The ALS Association has kept their quest to raise money for awareness and patient care at the center of the Ice Bucket Challenge, never failing to remind participants that their efforts are going towards helping make a better tomorrow for those suffering from this awful disease.

That kind of focus translates easily to people from all walks of life. Learning how to craft a message that resonates with your audience, and provides them with a sincere motivation to act, contribute or participate is indispensable when it comes to success on social media. Show your audience that your brand is honest, provides a helpful service, and benefits people. The power of a good cause, as evidenced by the Ice Bucket Challenge, is among the most potent ways to get people involved.

Did you participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge?

photo credit: deVos via photopin cc