Donate. Dump. Challenge. The Success of the #IceBucketChallenge

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Getting people to create videos about themselves is difficult. Even getting them to send in #selfies when the prize is really really good can be like pulling teeth. As a social media marketer, I can’t help but philosophize on the reasons why this challenge has taken off the way it has.

Here’s how the #icebucketchallenge won the Internet:

  1. NOT A CAMPAIGN: It was unintentional and organic… it wasn’t even a grass roots campaign. Until Pete Frates tied it to ALS, it was just another random Internet challenge. Straight from the people.
  2. PERSONAL CONNECTION: You get to see friends you haven’t seen in years on video, not just in curated photos. Personally, that has been something I’ve enjoyed immensely. Video reveals tone of voice, body language and other nuances that I hadn’t realized that I missed in friends from my past. 
  3. THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET: It’s shameful to ignore a challenge, particularly when someone calls you out to your face… virtually. 
  4. MOTIVATING THROUGH GUILT: Many of us will do anything to appease our guilt. Adding the charitable element takes this up a notch from all the other challenges that I’ve ignored on Facebook (such as: “share 3 positives a day for 7 days, and invite 3 people each day to do the same” or “let’s fill Facebook with Art”).
  5. REMOVING INSECURITY: With #selfies we can take 100 pictures before finding one we like enough to post. It’s only one angle we need to worry about… one pose. With video there are so many more things to be insecure about! Our voices, our gestures, the way we look from multiple directions. The #icebucketchallenge levels the playing field. We’re all getting a bucket of water dumped on us in a very un-sexy way. It’s down-right silly and that’s what makes it wonderful.
  6. IT’S FUN FOR ALL AGES: People of all ages and lifestyles are doing this challenge. Most of my personal Facebook feed is made up of parents with young kids and this seems to be an activity they love to do together. 
  7. THE SCRIPT IS READY: The challenge is simple… donate, dump, then challenge. Not everyone follows the donate part of the script, but either way they spread the message. It’s easy to figure out and follow.
  8. IT FEELS GOOD: There is a lot going on in the world right now that can make one feel helpless and depressed. Doing something silly lifts the spirits, and giving money to a charitable cause always feels good. 
Congratulations to ALS who have unexpectedly had a windfall year! And congratulations to all charities who are receiving extra funds due to the giving energy in the air.

If you’re wondering where this all began, this CTV article does a great job of providing the history.
For the cynics, here’s why it’s “bad for you”.
And here’s a reaction to the cynics, telling the nay-sayers to back down.
And there are always the marketers weighing in – just like us.

~ Christina

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