Many of us remember the summer of 2014 as the summer of the Ice Bucket Challenge; an enormously effective social media marketing campaign created to raise money and awareness for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
Our social media feeds were flooded with friends and celebrities drenched in ice cold water. The public embraced the idea of making a contribution to ALS research even if it meant they had to pour a bucket of ice cold water on themselves. Many of these videos went viral in just a few days!

During the summer months of 2014, every single social media user was exposed to the Ice Bucket Challenge. People were curious to see how celebrities performed their Ice Bucket Challenge, and even more curious to see which other people they would nominate to do the same. The phenomenon was so popular that it even reached the White House. While former President Obama didn’t pour a bucket of water over his head he did make a generous donation to the ALS foundation. So, what made this social media marketing campaign so effective?

The Effects of the Social Media Marketing Campaign Known as the Ice Bucket Challenge

Social media had a huge impact on the amount of money that was raised. In just 6 weeks the donations amounted to US$115 million! The mentions about the association grew from 6,819 mentions (during the previous year) to 37,205 mentions through the second half of 2014 alone.

This Social Media Marketing campaign has been one of the greatest the world has ever seen. It was able to grab a huge number of social media users granting maximum resonance to the event. Before this whole phenomenon, only very few people were aware of the existence of the ALS Association. Ask around you today and I am sure almost everyone knows something about it.
It was not very long ago that television, radio and newspapers were used as the main channels to educate people. Nowadays, this role is being taken over by social media networks. Over the past years, social media gained a lot of authority and we are surprised if we can’t find a person or a business with a social media presence.

A Social Media Marketing Campaign that Helped Fund a Medical Breakthrough

One part of the story is that the Ice Bucket Challenge simply provided good entertainment. We all love to see our friends drenched in ice cold water for some reason. Some people criticized the Challenge however; the majority of the participants simply posted a video of themselves to get likes and comments. But if that was solely the case then there would have never been a breakthrough in ALS research. The bottom line is the funds raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 have funded an important scientific gene discovery in the progressive neurodegenerative disease ALS, the ALS Association says. Scientists have identified a new gene contributing to the disease, NEK1. We are a large step closer to the cure.
The charity element for sure was an important contributor to this tremendous success. It triggered many celebrities to set an example for the rest to make a donation. People like Marc Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Kim Kardashian appeared on our social media feeds completely wet and frozen; this was something new and that made it extra enjoyable. People are always curious to see what is keeping celebrities busy, and the Ice Bucket Challenge did just that.

The way the challenge was set-up made a huge impact on the success of the social media marketing campaign. Maybe you are familiar with the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid)? The Ice Bucket Challenge was very simple: accept the challenge, absolve it and nominate three other people generating a viral effect. Furthermore the promoted hash tags were simple and highly significant; two major factors for creating successful brand related hash tags. Social media put together these elements to create something bigger, a phenomenon that will remain as excellent examples of the power of social media marketing.

The biggest social media lesson we can learn from the ALS Ice bucket challenge is to keep things fun and simple.

About the Author

The author of the post, Elena Greci earned her B.A. in Communication and Marketing in 2009 from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy. After she gained her B.A. in traditional marketing she discovered her passion for Digital Marketing . Elena then attended the prestigious school Gruppo MIDI and became certified in Social and Digital Marketing in 2016. Elena has been interning at iRISEmedia since November 2016. Her goal is to expand her knowledge and experience in the North American Digital Media Marketing sector.

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