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Why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign was a success

Published September 5, 2014 at 7:43 am


Unless you’ve been on a social-media fast or living under a rock for the last several weeks, chances are that you’ve heard of or even participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge, which is a viral marketing campaign to raise awareness and generate donations for the disease, has become wildly popular, with everyone from your next-door neighbor to tech titans like Bill Gates and Marc Zuckerberg participating and sharing their videos on social media.

Many marketers strive to make their campaigns viral, so what made this one so successful?

People want to rally around a good cause. This wasn’t just a typical viral marketing campaign — the purpose of the challenge was to raise awareness and donations to help fight ALS. People like to participate in a good cause. Whether your brand is a charity or a for-profit organization, your campaign may be more attention-grabbing if viewers see a cause worth supporting.

Use of dynamic content. Because people recorded their challenges as video posts, it made them more engaging than they would have been otherwise. The act of dumping ice water on one’s head was also perceived as funny, and created a reaction people wanted to see. The challenge was fun, so it got people interested.

The #ALSIceBucketChallenge made such a splash that some corporations even joined in. According to Adage, Samsung found a way to combine its marketing with a charity effort by turning its participation in the challenge into an advertisement, creating a video showing water and ice being dumped on a Samsung phone.

Find something that’s fun and for a good cause and people will want to join in. When executing a viral campaign, automated marketing software can help manage the details.

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