October 2, 2014

WAnybody who has used social media in the past couple of months would have had their news feed flooded with videos of people they know (and don’t know) having buckets of ice chucked over their heads. You may have even done it yourself. The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ as it has become known has been probably one of the most viral campaigns that have hit social networks ever.

It has been suggested that the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $53.3 million in donations since 29th July for the ALS Association. Compared to $2.1 million in the same period last year, that’s immense and shows the enormous power that a viral campaign can have.

There are a number of reasons that the challenge became so popular that it went viral.

It’s Social

What better entertainment is there than watching your friends tip buckets of ice over their head? We love to see our friends in funny or humiliating situations and this feeds into that. The fact that we are seemingly putting ourselves through choice into these situations makes it all the more entertaining, much like the TV program Jackass.

The next step is that you then have to nominate 3 friends to take on the challenge. This makes it all the more amusing. We are always more likely to do something that our friends are already involved in, and it’s much harder to say no if you are specifically named to take the challenge. This is why so many people across the world agreed to tip freezing cold buckets of ice on their head.

The fact that you have been publically chosen is a bit like a popularity contest. The list is short enough that you are in an elite group of probably the nominator’s 3 favourite people and by being specifically chosen, you are entering a seemingly elite club. And who wouldn’t want to be part of that? We don’t like to be left out, so it’s hard to say ‘no’ when you see something being so successful.

The popularity of the challenge was also heightened due to Facebook’s decision to make video posts play automatically. It’s easy to ignore a static picture but automatically seeing a video of your friend chucking ice on their head and their reaction, is very difficult to ignore.

It’s Easy

There’s not much skill involved in sitting and waiting for someone to throw ice on your head. This challenge was open to everyone, and everyone has the means to take it on. All it needed was a little courage. There was no skill needed, so everyone could be included.

It’s Adaptable

The challenge, although basic in its premise allowed for people to stamp their own personality on it. People could improvise on it. Bill Gates, for example built a machine to dump his bucket of ice on him and other people went in other directions. The ‘Rice Bucket Challenge’ or ‘Dirt Bucket Challenge’ was made by those who were conscious about water wastage. The challenge allowed people to be creative in their own ways.

When you really think about it, it’s not that surprising that this campaign was so successful. It taps into many human traits and is as good as irresistible if your name is called. The good thing is that is has raised an enormous amount of money for a good cause and many people have had fun along the way.

Many thanks!


Louise Denny Profile Pic

Louise Denny

Head of Marketing

The Internet Marketing Academy


(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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