During Summer 2014, a campaign the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and it was a really successful one.
To participate in the challenge, the participant would have to record a video of him/herself having a bucket of ice and water poured above the head, upload it on their social media and nominate a minimum of 3 others to do the same in 24 hours, otherwise they would have to have a forfeit by making a donation to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association.
The campaign went viral after popular celebrities started to upload videos of themselves and challenge more celebrities to upload their videos. Take a look at the video Bill Gates posted above. The ALS Challenge spread like wildfire across the internet after celebrities, Lady Gaga, Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey etc, uploaded a video of themselves doing the challenge on their social media accounts, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
It was also featured on a few shows to spread more awareness. Enticing more people to do it. For example, in the above video, Kim Kardashian did the challenge on The Ellen Degeneres show.
Isn’t it interesting how a campaign went viral? The team was really smart to come up with an Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds and awareness, it is simple to do and it is fun because everyone’s home has ice and water.
It was really successful because ever since Summer 2014, this challenge has become a yearly event every Summer. By creating more awareness, people would donate, as shown in the picture above.
After the campaign was launched and popular figures did the challenge. It became the talk of the town, spreading through word of mouth. People started sharing it on the internet. The increase awareness allowed a huge increase in donation by 10 million dollars compared to the previous year.
This challenge became viral easily because it fulfilled all of the S.T.E.P.P.S framework.
People care about how they look to others so they participated in the challenge as a form of showing that they care, social currency and emotion. I feel that many celebrities participated to portray a better image of themselves and to encourage such practices in helping others.
It was also a trigger because everyone was talking about it, when someone mentions Ice Bucket, naturally at the top-of-mind, ALS would come to mind.
It had practical value, therefore it was shared so quickly to build more awareness about the illness.
Stories were created by sharing and making videos, that went public to garner more attention
This example uses all 3 types of characteristics to make this campaign go viral. Firstly, Seth Godin’s People Characteristics because the ALS challenge is targeting an interested audience. Secondly, as mentioned above, Jonah Berger’s Message Characteristics is used as well. Lastly Malcolm Gladwell’s Network Characteristics, celebrities learn the knowledge from the ALS association, social media connects celebrities to their fans and public to spread the message around. These 3 characteristics work hand in hand to make a campaign successful. Without an interested audience, having a meaningful message would not be as efficient, a network of people is required to make a message successful.
However, if I really choose 1 characteristics, it would be the Network Characteristics, in order for something to go viral, a large outreach of people is necessary. Celebrities and influential people are able to achieve this, their audience and fans will spread the message on social media, generating a greater awareness, because only influential figures are able to trend news quickly because of the network they possess.
It was a great campaign wasn’t it? Using a trigger with practical value was really smart because it would spread with a cause and people feel empathy towards it. What are your thoughts?