#IceBucketChallenge – The Power of Social Media


Looking back at past year, “The Ice Bucket Challenge” was one of the most viral social media campaigns supporting a good cause – to raise awareness and stimulate fundraising for accelerated research and finding cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
It was one of its kind campaign which was originated by a family in Massachusetts experiencing personal tragedy as their 29-year old son was diagnosed with incurable ALS disease. Meet the mom who inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge and see a video why she started it: https://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_frates_why_my_family_started_the_als_ice_bucket_challenge_the_rest_is_history?language=en

Here you can see a  Youtube playlist of the most viewed Ice Bucket challenges.

  • The campaign ignited immediate response on social media and networks: through June 1 – August 17, 2014 over 28 million people commented on Ice Bucket Challenge
  • YouTube has reported that over 150 countries have posted Ice Bucket Challenges for ALS
  • Facebook posted 2.5 million videos
  • ALS association’s 2013 PR Campaign collected about $2.8 million, in 2014 $115 million was raised from 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  • Countless celebrities participated: over 50 political figures (and impersonators), over 200 movie stars, 200 athletes and 200 musicians
  • It challenged whole US cities, teams and organizations to take Ice Bucket Challenge

Why it has gone explosively viral and generated an extraordinary public response in USA and foreign countries?

What can we learn from this campaign and strategically use to advance missions of health and social justice organizations?

It was a simple example of grassroots campaign for a good cause similar to many other public health campaigns. It resonated to public in so many different ways and evoked multiple emotional and philanthropic responses.
It erased borders and united, received continued reinforcement and snowball effect (or, rather ice pouring), appealed to celebrities and public, used multiple ways to attract public attention. 
It also supported important mission and charity, added positivity and kindness to many lives, brought celebration, great videos and awesome soundtracks, let us laugh at comedy and failures, awe challenge and competition. It featured great people, friendship and families, supported advocacy and equity, manifested plea for compassion. It was daring, inspirational and promising.

Using this story, we can incorporate six successful strategies how to make public health web content more interesting and engaging:

  1. Let’s use a simple call-to-action and don’t be afraid to take the Challenge!
  2. Give your community members opportunity to “become the Star” in your campaign. Make it easy to participate and easy to share with friends.
  3. Surprise people… Or make them emotional. A recent study of 7,500 New York Times articles completed by the Wharton Business School had shown when readers/viewers are touched by your story, they feel compelled to share it with others so they have the opportunity to feel that same emotion. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/science/09tier.html
  4. Nail your blog story headline – Shareaholic studied 200,000 publisher websites in 2012 and found that 27.27% of their web traffic came from social media referrals. Curious headlines catch attention of viewers and earn you a click on your content.
  5. Tell great stories and show them too! Remember that good story, picture or video have potential to make a giant, remarkable splash!
  6. Explore new ways to embrace digital media technology and invest into building direct relationships with your subscribers, communities and patrons.

We have powerful evidence that modern digital media breaks through barriers, extends helping hand and lend you power to amplify your voice and mission to achieve the extraordinary outcomes.

Looking forward to hear about your experiences and see your posts about successful communication campaigns and effective promotional tools.

Image courtesy of Plenty


5 thoughts on “#IceBucketChallenge – The Power of Social Media

  1. I loved this post because you did an excellent job analyzing a really unique and incredibly successful social media for social good campaign. Your 6 points summarizing what made this campaign effective and how others can emulate it were very helpful. The graphic was well placed, and I liked that there weren’t a lot of extraneous extra images. Great post!

  2. This is a great demonstration of the benefits of having a successful social media campaign. When your posts go viral, you can not only raise a ton of money, but also educate a large number of people about your issue.

  3. Graphics are a great illustrator of the campaign and how much it went “viral” with social media. I think the celebrity “buy-in” really took the campaign to the next level. Great choice of topic on the power of social media-
    Now that the frenzy has died down, I wonder what it would take to get social media buzzing about the next ALS promotion?

  4. Nice graphic! I second the fact that you didn’t detract from it with other stuff — it is worth a thousand words. What might be nice to consider, though, is the reasons for why it resonated so strongly. I think that more than anything else, the fact it did resonate was the reason for its success — which may have nothing to do with the actual cause it was trying to support and everything to do with the actual action itself. The steps in this post help to engineer a similar effect but I’m not entirely certain they themselves were what caused the challenge to do so well. It might be nice to explore this more.

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