Ice Buckets of Social Media

Emily Drape

Emily Drape

It is impossible to escape the #ALSicebucketchallenge on social media. Whether it is documented as a photo or video, this campaign is taking social media by storm. The feel-good (well, not so good when you have ice down your back!) campaign has raised more than $23 million for the ALS Association. So how is this happening? This campaign pulls major social and emotional strings that get people to stop and give … while having fun.

Being doused with ice water had been around in early summer, particularly among pro golfers raising money for their own charities. In mid-July golfer Greg Norman got Matt Lauer to take the challenge on the “Today” show, though it wasn’t yet known for ALS. But a young Boston College athlete with ALS picked up the idea and his friends and family fueled it with an abundance of postings on his behalf. From that point on, social media took over. People began posting their own “ice bucket” challenge videos and photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Not to be left out, celebrities joined in, like Jimmy Fallon and Lady Gaga, who wanted to be part of the social conversation. That gave the campaign a larger platform and by early August it had taken off: 118,000 tweets from mid-July to mid-August. So why is this working?

It’s so simple, anyone can do it.

It’s simple. It’s personal. Anyone can do it. The beauty of this campaign is how easy it is to get a network of your family, friends, co-workers or neighbors involved. They feel included. They feel like they are part of something and that makes people feel special. They can be part of the team; join the conversation.

Competition is a powerful motivator.

A key component of this campaign is the requirement to nominate three to five others to participate. But wait, there is a catch: You have only 24 hours. Ready. Set. Go. As soon as that last icy drop lands on your damp scalp it is time to repeat the cycle.

With a race against the clock, this campaign causes people to feel the urgency of completing the challenge, while emphasizing the urgency of finding a cure for this debilitating disease.

It will make you cry.

This campaign is full of emotional stories that draw you in and make you want to do something. Everyone wants to be a part of something special. Being able to say you dumped the bucket on your head, or donated, can do that, especially when other people know about it. The ice bucket challenge evokes a strong emotional rush.

This has become a simple, unifying concept that plays on people’s desire to become part of the social conversation, and do good at the same time.

-Emily Drape, Account Executive

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