What Every Marketer Can Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge

Sep 2, 2014

What Every Marketer Can Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge

Whether perusing pins on Pinterest, checking your Facebook feed, or tweeting on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed the videos and photos of friends, neighbors, coworkers, celebrities, actors, athletes, and politicians participating in the latest viral sensation to latch on to the American zeitgeist: the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Whether you’ve participated in the challenge yourself or just giggled at the sight of your sister squealing once the icy water hits her head, postings about the challenge are everywhere. While the challenge has helped the ALS Association raise more money in the last two months than the organization raised in all of 2013, it also serves as an example of a every marketer’s fantasy: to create a viral campaign that receives nationwide attention in just a few weeks.

So how did a simple person-to-person campaign transform into a national movement that has caught the attention of everyone from Bill Gates to Matt Damon to Oprah? Whether a startup, an established brand, or local business, marketers everywhere can learn a lesson on how to develop a viral campaign from what the Ice Bucket Challenge has taught us.

Identify Your Cause or Goal

With the goal of spreading awareness and raising funds for ALS research, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been an immense success that has far exceeded expectations. The goal of the challenge is clear and participating is simple: just film yourself dumping a cold bucket of water over your head, challenge three people, and then go online to donate $10.

In today’s age of short attention spans, consumers desire direct and simple messages. Most won’t take the time to read through an entire blog post, article, or web page to gain a better understanding of whatever message you’re trying to convey. When it comes to marketing today, the simpler the better.

Make it Enjoyable

The main reason the Ice Bucket Challenge has become so popular is that people love to watch the reactions of those they know when doused with freezing water. Since the very beginning, the Internet has been home to comical images and videos. The uploaded videos of participants just confirm what we’ve always known: people love to laugh.

Capture the attention of those you’re trying to reach by keeping them entertained with photos or videos they would enjoy watching. Keeping things fun and easy lets people connect with a business or organization on a human level and can encourage future engagement in a meaningful way.

Create Immediacy

Individuals challenged to stand under their own ice bucket have just 24 hours to comply.

If you want a message to thrive, keep the time frame brief to create a sense of immediacy. By giving your target audience a deadline, your message will take on greater priority.

Understand the Power of Participation

The Ice Bucket Challenge asks that participants challenge three other people to participant, thereby creating a multiplier effect.

When possible, give consumers involved in your initiative the opportunity to engage their own network so they can experience the joys of having others join the fun. As a marketer, you get the bonus of increased exposure for your company’s message.

Share Everywhere

Videos and photos of the Ice Bucket Challenge are popping up on all of the major social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

For marketers wanting their campaigns to go viral, it’s important to make sharing your message easy across multiple platforms. Don’t give people an easy out for not participating by excluding their favorite social media platform from your campaign.