Why is the ice bucket challenge so viral?


If you have been on the internet anytime in the last month or so you have surely seen people pouring buckets of icy water on their head. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a viral campaign for the ALS Association to support research for Lou Gerhigs Disease (or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

The ALS Challenge originated with celebrities, which is one of the reasons it has caught on so fast. A golf trainer challenged Chris Kennedy, a professional golfer, to dump a bucket of ice water on his head and choose a charity to support. Several other celebrities soon followed the act and it was suddenly viral!

But exactly why is it so viral? Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons:

1) It is charitable – not commercial

One of the big reasons that people have participated in the challenge is that it supports a charity, which appeals to our generosity and desire of recognition.

2) It grows exponentially

When you accept the challenge, you then challenge 3 others to do the same. This is not only exponential growth, but it is personal and one to one, meaning that you specifically are getting called out by someone you know.

3) It is easy

The challenge itself is easy, you just record yourself dumping a bucket of icy water on your head. No editing is required for the video, you can just upload it to your social media channels and go on your way.

4) There is a time limit

The ice bucket challenge has a 24 hour limit. This time limit gives people a reason to act now instead of later and entices them to invite more of their friends to join.

5) We like watching our friends squirm

Let’s face it, we all like seeing our friends and family squirm and shake after getting a bucket of ice water dumped on their head! This factor ads a fun reason to participate and keep sharing.

The ice bucket challenge is an excellent platform to raise awareness and funding for the ALS Association, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it for your next marketing campaign. Perhaps you can try one or more of these elements in a social campaign, possibly giving away a free product or service. Get your users involved and watch the shares roll in!

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Author: Larry Lembcke

Larry has 10 years of internet marketing experience and specializes in inbound marketing. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to do nearly everything in the internet marketing space, including paid and organic search marketing, web design, graphic design, strategy, and management. Larry fills a diverse role at LocalDirective and goes wherever, whenever, to get the job done!