ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Lessons Learned about Viral Marketing

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken the digital world by storm. ALS itself has no apparent connection to phenomenon; the campaign itself has a rather unclear origin. ome news coverage stated on the professional golf circuit where players challenge others by dumping ice buckets over their heads. The recent viral outburst gained its connection to ALS from suffers Pete Frates and Pat Quinn. Quinn posted his challenge on ‘Frates fund raising’ Facebook page, which he calls Team Frate Train. Frates later took the challenge to Twitter which enabled celebrity involvement, sending the challenge viral.

Participation the ALS Ice bucket challenge has spread from America and is now a global .  Facebook the countries with the most engaged participants :

  • USA
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Philippines
  • Puerto Rico
  • India

The highest engagement rates with the campaign, though says it’s reached nearly every country in the world.

Facebook shared some of its data on Monday in which it found:

  •             Over 28 million people have joined the ice bucket challenge conversation including posting, commenting or liking a post.
  •             2.4 million videos related to the ice bucket challenge have been shared on Facebook.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

It didn’t take long for the Association to realise that this crazy phenomenon could be a really big deal. Since then the organisation has responded by tailoring its Twitter page for the occasion, engaging in lots of conversations, and creating a special section on its web site to provide information about the campaign’s success.

As marketers, we all know viral success is great, but achieving financial results is what’s really important.

How did this simple initiative turn into a movement that has scored participation from some of the biggest names in the country, including Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Kobe Bryant, Oprah and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie?

Here are a few tips that we think you should be aware of when wanting to create a campaign to go viral:

Identify the goal/cause –

Today’s consumers like the simplicity and direct message the campaign has. The ice bucket challenge had a simple and clear goal; going online and donating or pouring a bucke of icy water over your head.

Get people involved –

An important thing about the challenge was that you got to nominate 3 more people, which created huge exposure for the brand as well as involving the campaign.

Make it fun and easy –

Most of the videos that people created funny and people wanted to watch them create their own. By keeping things light hearted  your audience to connect with your brand on a human level.

Add immediacy –

The 24 hour aspect creates excitement and anticipation. Keep the time frame brief enabling your idea to develop immediately.

Understand the power of sharing –

The ALS ice bucket challenge was shared on social media from the start, which enabled it to be such a huge success. If you want a campaign to go viral it must be easy to share on social media.

The art of conversation –

Another huge part of the challenge is that it heightened conversations around ALS.

Creating an effective and popular viral campaign is not something many brands can predict, but these tips should be on your radar if you want viral success.

Grace Bethell
Grace Bethell is a BA (hons) Advertising graduate from Southampton Solent University. She has specialised in Digital Marketing as well as being certified in Direct and Digital Marketing by the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM). Grace wrote her thesis on Social Media, focusing on how brands engage through visual social media platforms. Grace works within the Inbound Search & Social team at Digital Clarity and manages accounts across a range of multi-disciplined verticals.