What Brands Can Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge

By now, your social feeds are full of videos of people dumping cold water over their heads. We’ve seen a lot of strange trends hit social media over the years – like planking and Tebowing – but the ice bucket challenge is different. There are some characteristics of this trend that put it above the rest. In fact, this ice bucket challenge has some important lessons for Brands.

The Ice Bucket Challenge shows how social media can be harnessed, directed and managed for a social good. According to Facebook, over 28 million people have joined the conversation about the Ice Bucket Challenge including posting, commenting or liking a challenge post and 2.4 million videos related to the ice bucket challenge have been shared on the social network.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge holds several important lessons for Brands trying to reverse engineer the secret of the ALS campaign’s remarkable success.

Make it Easy and Fun
Brands are constantly trying to engage their audience with different incentives, but these efforts usually do not generate a lot of buzz or take off organically because it’s not unique or interesting enough. The Ice Bucket Challenge was easy to participate with no limitations – and was launched at the perfect time within the summer months.

Personalize It, Then “Celebertize” It
The ALS campaign didn’t start with the idea of pouring ice-cold water on your head to raise awareness for a charity. Yet, former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who has ALS, made it personal, leveraging his social network and a dedicated team of friends and family to spread the word. The promotion became viral after a few local celebrities and sports figures took up the challenge. Some of times brands struggle with launching a national campaign. By trying to engage everybody at once, it becomes something generic and vanilla. But if you start by engaging people on a local level, you can build up steam, and it can grow into something bigger.

Expect Controversy
Even an internet trend as simple as dumping cold water on your head will create controversy. Groups on all sides have spoken about a range of issues: the success, the waste of time, the negative effect, and even how the money will be spent. But, at the end of the day, a discussion has begun.

Jump on the Bandwagon
Other Brands have embraced this social media sensation with their own unique spins with spokes people, mascots and even products staying in character. Here are some of the favorites:


Samsung Galaxy S5 challenges the iPhone:


And the Old Spice Guy – well, he tries at least:

Is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge an once-in-a-lifetime social media event? Under the right circumstances, the perfect social media storm can be replicated. There are many actionable items for brand looking to create the next social media sensation – just  think outside the ice bucket. Even the strangest ideas can take a brand to the next level.

Want more from your social campaign? Contact LocalDirective for a custom solution for your business needs.

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Author: DirectiveGroup

DirectiveGroup is a digital marketing agency that delivers complete online solutions for B2B and B2C companies who are looking to develop local, regional, national or global audiences for their products or services. We help our clients dominate their online space through strategically cohesive, tactically brilliant, fully integrated programs. Services include strategy development, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media marketing, website development, content marketing, in-depth analytics reporting or ‘Insight’ analysis and more. Our strategic, data-driven and results-focused approach delivers immediate and increasing value over time, as measured by ROI.