5 Things to Learn from the #IceBucketChallenge

If you are an active Facebook® or Twitter user, you probably have been drowning in videos of - or were even asked to take part in - the #IceBucketChallenge. The saturation point is here, but we are going to soak you one more time.

5 Things to Learn from the #IceBucketChallenge

Clearly, this campaign was pure genius. It spread across social networks and newsrooms to become a truly international phenomenon, with celebrities and public figures also getting swept up in the excitement. The purpose of the challenge was to raise awareness and money for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association; and, by any measure, it was an EPIC success. However, Facebook was the dominant platform.

According to Facebook, 2.4 million #IceBucketChallenge videos were shared June 1 to August 17, with more than 28 million people taking part in conversations with Posts, Comments, Likes, and Shares. The campaign evolved along the way, and ended up raising $100 million for the ALS Association in August.

That campaign generated a ton of buzz – and a ton of money – and begs the obvious question: How can other organizations and brands do the same?

Here are our five keys to success:

  1. Keep Your Videos Short

People online want bite-sized content. The most commonly watched videos on Facebook are less than 21 seconds long and performed in the Top 25% of completions rates, whereas the longer the video, the worse the completion rate. Of course, catchy headlines and a clear call to action are key. The #IceBucketChallenge is inherently a “dare to do something” – which is great. As with most marketing tactics, you want to instill a sense of scarcity so that people want to consume what you are selling- the same applies here: “I don’t want to miss (insert celebrity, relative, or friend’s name) drenching themselves with ice cold water, and I want to know who they are going to nominate next.”

  1. Format Simply

It’s simple and consistent- anybody can participate; all you need is a smartphone to document and upload the experience, a bucket of water filled with ice cubes to pour over your head, and three people you want to challenge. The content is short, shareable across social networks, and is infectiously silly. Just take Benedict Cumberbatch as an example: he did the challenge willingly, and then added additional clips that show him being soaked at other times – in his shower, suited-up, on his motorcycle, and walking to his car.

Each video has the anticipated “wow factor” which is when the water hits a person’s head. People also enjoy watching eye candy getting wet. I mean, who wouldn’t like seeing Cristiano Ronaldo in a speedo being doused in water?

  1. I Dare You!

In general, folks want to be perceived as generous and sympathetic to a good cause. This is where the “mob mentality” plays a role and how Facebook became the place for the challenge to run rampant. People on Facebook are exposed to their network of friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues – so choosing not to participate makes you look either inconsiderate or just plain anti-social. It’s similar to a chain letter, thus giving the #IceBucketChallenge its most viral element.

  1. Celebs

Speaking of Ronaldo, much of the success of the #IceBucketChallenge is attributable to celebrities. Just think, other associations and businesses pay thousands and even millions of dollars to have just one celebrity endorse their products and worthy causes, but this movement persuaded a huge amount of celebs to voluntarily participate! Charlie Sheen made a creative video and donated $10,000, Sir Patrick Stewart joined the cause by making a video writing a cheque with an undisclosed amount. This of course influenced other people to submit to the challenge: “If they do it, why wouldn’t I?”

We compiled the top 5 highest Average Post Interactions on Facebook by celebrity and association categories: Actors, Singers, Sport Stars, Musicians, and Sport Organizations.

From that list here are the top posts by interaction from each category: Mark Wahlberg took on the challenge with his family, earning over 2 million interactions; Lady Gaga generated nearly 800,000; Leo Messi had almost 850,000; the Zac Brown Band gained roughly 350,000 interactions; and the compilation video with Dolph Ziggler and other famous WWE faces racked up over 94,000.

  1. Sharability

Viral marketing is the digital form of “word-of-mouth” advertising, and this is a prime example of free promotion that raised awareness of a disease most people probably know little about – and raised money in the process. The #IceBucketChallenge was truly a global phenomenon, with the U.S. being the most participative country. The sensation made waves on digital and in other media, and even captured the attention of stars, compelling them to partake and donate.

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Global Editor

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