What the Ice Bucket Challenge Says About Today’s Social Media Users

Posted on August 21st, 2014 by Jason Shindler

By Jason Shindler

Courtesy Flickr user Rpavich

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook news feed has been overrun by people (friends, family and celebrities) taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. If you don’t know about it yet, it is about raising awareness and money for research into ALS. You either dump ice water on your self, donate $100 to the ALS foundation, or I’m guessing that some people do both. The foundation has raised millions of dollars from this viral idea, and taught millions about ALS. Mission accomplished.

Of course, there will be other foundations that will attempt follow on promotions that are similar to what was so successful for ALS. There will also be some for profit companies that will attempt (and likely fail) to do similar ideas. Those follow on ideas are reflexive — but not very creative. I’m most interested in the overall lessons this teaches so that my clients can learn from this and apply the concepts to future promotions. Here’s what I see as lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

  • People want to be involved in helping other people, but would like an easy way to do it. Donating money is hard, sitting at a community festival education people about your non-profit is hard — but dumping cold water is easy.
  • People want to be part of things others are doing. My neighborhood does a Thriller Flash mob for Halloween every year. The event is successful because it is a bunch of people having fun together — no one wants to dance Thriller by themselves.
  • Giving people choices is important. The challenge is $100 or dump ice water. The foundation has been successful with both — so I;m guessing some people are dumping water and also donating money. Giving people a choice allowed people to access the promotion at whatever level they wanted.




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