Ice Bucket Challenge: A Case Study on “How to Run a Viral Social Media Campaign”

By now, I am sure you have read about the Ice Bucket Challenge. But if you haven’t, don’t worry. You will soon. It’s become a rage. Everyone from celebrities to common people are doing it. And in the process, they are raising awareness about the Motor Neuron Disease. So what exactly is it and what can we learn from it?

To put it simply, The Ice Bucket Challenge was started by the ALS association to raise awareness about the Motor Neuron Disease. The challenge works as follows:

You create a short video of you pouring ice water onto yourself, and then challenging your friends to do the same. If you do succeed, then you can proudly make this badge your facebook/twitter header image, thereby raising even more awareness.

Ice Bucket Challenge Nurture Talent Academy

Ice Bucket Challenge

Why It Works?

Imagine a celebrity seeing a video in which he has been challenged by another famous celebrity to complete the challenge. What choice is he left with? Frankly, none at all. And this is why it works so well. From Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, everyone is challenging everyone else to complete the challenge. Thus it becomes a matter of pride for many, especially the celebrities who have a reputation to protect. Take a look at this video of Bill Gates creatively completing the challenge that was thrown at him by Mark Zuckerberg.

After Gates, completes the Ice Bucket Challenge, he further challenges 3 other celebrities on twitter, posting the above video on twitter.

If you want to check out who all have completed the Ice Bucket Challenge, check out this page

So what can businesses learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge?

  1. People simply love to join in a cause. So support some social cause and probably THAT could go viral. For example, Bharti Airtel and TCS have just pledged Rs 100 crore each to set up girls toilets in schools. This is a massive cause in a country like India and will find popular support among the masses. Can you think of some innovative way to show your support to this or a similar cause? Not only will the cause be highlighted, but even your company will get massive, positive PR.
  2. Urge people to make simple short videos. Whoever finishes the Ice Bucket challenge gets a sense of satisfaction when they complete it. This sense of satisfaction comes from successfully winning some challenge. And then they like to flaunt it so they share it with their friends.
  3. Urge people to further ask/challenge more friends to do something. This makes your campaign fun and competitive.
  4. Reward people when they complete a challenge. Make the reward itself, viral. In case of Ice Bucket Challenge, the reward was a badge which people are now flaunting as their facebook or twitter header. And this in turn creates further awareness about the cause and the phenomenon itself.
  5. And finally, decide some hashtags. In our case, the hashtags in use are #icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge, and #strikeoutals.

So can you show some love to a good cause? There are massive gains to have you know. :)


About the Author

Siddharth Goyal is "web development and internet marketing" trainer and is the founder of The Webinstitute and is also the digital operations consultant at Nurture Talent Academy. He worked full time with the National Digital Operations Center (IT Cell) of the Bhartiya Janata Party during the 2014 general elections where he worked closely with the social media (during Delhi elections) as well as the ground team.

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