5 Lessons the Ice Bucket Challenge Taught Us About Going Viral

5 Lessons the Ice Bucket Challenge Taught Us About Going Viral

5 Lessons the Ice Bucket Challenge Taught Us About Going Viral

It has been said that to become successful, follow the pathway that others have set forth. Ultimately, if there is a proven and successful route to success, why make it harder?

Now, sometimes it’s not businesses but rather events that can teach us how to become successful. One event that is a role model for viral marketing and success is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The power of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Nearly three years ago, the entire world was enveloped in one of the largest viral community events in human history, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Unless you were literally sleeping in a cave, it’s almost impossible that you have not heard of this event. If you were lucky, you were summoned and had to experience the feeling of ice cold water poured on top of your head.

Now, if you did not know, this singular event is responsible for creating a chain reaction of over 1 million individual ice bucket challenge videos and raising almost $10 million for the ALS Association. With such statistics, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has caused business leaders to scratch their heads, searching for lessons in viral marketing—until today. We are about to unveil 5 powerful lessons that we all can learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Lesson #1: Video marketing

There is one apparent lesson from the Ice Bucket Challenge that you can begin to adapt into your campaigns today: video marketing. Video marketing is becoming more popular than ever before. In fact, check out these shocking video marketing statistics:

In the digital marketing culture, people are beginning to prefer the art of watching and listening to videos rather than reading. With the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the entire premise of the virality of the campaign was developed on videos posted on Facebook and YouTube.

This challenge taught us that video marketing was becoming the next best form of digital marketing, hence such shocking statistics. So, if you are looking to develop a viral campaign, it’s of utter importance to incorporate video marketing somewhere, somehow. Instead of using only words, blogs and articles, perhaps think about utilizing video marketing animation tools or creating YouTube videos to share across social media.

Lesson #2: Social media

When studying the viral-marketing formula of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, there is one lesson deep-rooted in the success of the campaign: the use of social media. Without social media, the challenge might not have even existed. That being said, for your company, product, or articles to ever reach a stature of virality, you must use social media.

Now, here is the trick: you can’t just use social media. You must understand social media first. What this means is understanding what social media platform is the BEST for marketing your campaign. Nowadays, most businesses prefer to use Facebook due to the revolutionized Facebook Advertising program. This should not deter you from utilizing Google+ or Twitter, which are two other powerful social media platforms.

For the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the success could be measured by the number of videos that were posted over social media, primarily Facebook and YouTube. Facebook made it that much easier for individuals across the world to connect, share stories and even challenge more people. If you want to create viral content, you must blend social media into your strategy.

Lesson #3: A good cause/reason

Another reason the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was so popular was due to the cause behind the entire event. The reality is that human beings like helping other human beings. To prove this, let’s look at Microsoft, one of the largest and most well-respected companies in the world. They offer their employees an option to donate their time and money to benefit non-profit organizations. Look at these statistics:

As we stated before, people are willing to donate their time and money to a cause that they value. The Ice Bucket Challenge did just this. The entire challenge was founded to help raise awareness for a good cause with a good reason. In return, the challenge impacted millions of people and raised millions of dollars. The lesson here is that if you want to develop a viral campaign like the Ice Bucket Challenge, find a way to make a difference or develop a reason for the campaign that will appeal to society.

Lesson #4: Short deadlines

After further interpretation of the framework of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, there is another valuable lesson that you can take away: utilizing short deadlines. There is something about the feeling of having short deadlines that causes individuals to act – especially when it’s matched with social media call-to-actions, charities, and nearly the participation of everyone in society.

Now, deadlines, like goals, are most often accomplished when they are small or quick rather than long-term. Think about this: how many people develop New Year’s resolutions yet literally no one accomplishes their goal? Does that sound like you? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge gave people only 24 hours to accept the challenge and millions of people acted.

When there is a short deadline, it gives someone a very small amount of time, which prevents them from putting off a task or a goal. At the same time, a short deadline can actually empower people, inspiring them to act faster.

So, when it comes to your next campaign, what can you do? Well, as you discover what call-to-actions speak to your audience, try to encourage them with limited time offers, flash sales or, like the ice bucket challenge, give your audience 24 hours to respond to the campaign or challenge.

Lesson #5: Simplicity

The last lesson we can all learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the art of simplicity. During the entire challenge, did you ever take the time to reflect on how simple the campaign was? The entire campaign was as simple as pour a bucket of water on your head and challenge 3 friends on social media to do it, too.

The challenge was easy enough for even the youngest crowds to participate. In the culture that we live in today, people are beginning to prefer the easiest and simplest route rather than complicated alternatives. To prove this, check out Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman at Harvard Business Review at: https://hbr.org/2012/05/to-keep-your-customers-keep-it-simple.

At the core of the entire ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it was simple. As you begin to establish your next marketing campaign and invoke what you learned today, remember to keep your challenge or campaign simple enough that anyone can understand. You do not want to be sending your audience across an array of websites or stores. Always ask yourself: can I make this simpler for my readers?

Your intentions will lead to success

There is one last lesson to be learned from the Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge was never intended to go viral: its only purpose was to raise awareness. As you create your next marketing strategy, don’t focus on going viral; focus on accomplishing your goals at hand and viral success will follow.