5 Lessons Marketers Can Learn From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

So the Ice Bucket Challenge has lasted WAY longer than anyone could have ever predicted, yes?  Just when you think it's over, there's two, three, four more popping up in your newsfeed on the daily. Some people are all over it, but some are annoyed by it. Whatever side of the fence you may fall on, there's no denying that for marketers, it's a bit of a phenomenon and something we can all learn from. As a result of the campaign, ALSA has experienced an 800% rise in donations. We need to listen to what this thing is telling us because,whoa.

1) Make it easy and fun

Lots of campaigns make it a bit of a struggle to get involved. There's some special place to go to to upload your video or there are lots of restrictions or forms to fill out. The Ice Bucket Challenge has proven that if you make it really simple, it will catch on faster and stronger. This is the ultimate easy thing to do—even a little kid can pour ice into a bucket of water and dump it! So ask yourself, can a four-year-old do this?  If the answer is "yes," proceed.

2) Keep money a secondary concern

As soon as people feel like they're about to be obligated to give money, they tend to run away. So, doing this challenge has been kind of an interesting thing since you do the ice bucket instead of giving money, but most people end up donating as well.

Even people who don't donate, let's say that they don't have the disposable income, can participate anyway without feeling badly that they can't afford to help. Maybe they can do the ice bucket and tag a friend who is likely to donate? The Ice Bucket Challenge makes it possible for everyone to contribute in any way they can. 

3) Make it so, so, social

When you can find a way to call your friends out on something kind of silly and potentially embarrassing, you jump at it, right?  It's all in good fun of course and the Ice Bucket Challenge is genius in that challengers are encouraged to tag three friends to do it too. It's practically impossible to ignore it when someone you know has called you out to do something in front of your social community. Turns out, it spreads like wildfire when you do that.

4) All aboard the train!      

The campaign was not something that the ALSA started. Someone else simply started the challenge, just to get people to donate to a charity—any charity. Someone else simply decided to donate to ALSA and it stuck. ALSA jumped on the train and got behind it once they saw that so many people were doing it.

There's nothing wrong with tagging along on a conversation that someone else already started.

In fact, there's another campaign sort of like the Ice Bucket Challenge that just fired up about a week ago. It's called Doubtfire Face for Suicide Prevention.  The idea is to stick your face in a pie or get it all full of something (shaving cream, whipped cream, etc.) so that you look like Mrs. Doubtfire in the scene where Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire stuck his/her face in a cake to conceal his/her identity. The campaign was launched by Michael Scotti Jr. to help the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention raise a goal of $500,000. So far they have $3,836. Will they meet their goal? 

We think they have a good shot since they've hopped aboard a steaming locomotive!

5) Tell people what you want them to do

Ultimately, all of the things we just mentioned won't work unless you tell people what you want them to do. Make sure your call to action is lively, entertaining and motivates through a sense of urgency: 

"Your help is needed now! Take the Challenge today!" 

We predict that by the end of the year, we're going to be seeing a lot more challenges being thrown down on social media as more and more marketers pick up on what we can learn from this whole ice bucket phenomenon.

Now we'd like to open up the floor to you, dear GLAD WORKS friends: If you could throw down a challenge like this, what charity would you choose and what would you have people do?

Leave a Comment