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Posted on 08.21.2014

Soaked in Success: Behind the Marketing Strategy of the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

If your Facebook news feed looks anything like mine lately, it’s probably full of videos of your friends participating in the #IceBucketChallenge. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a campaign to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, and there is currently no cure.

The campaign was started by a 28-year old man in Massachusetts who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012. He challenged his friends to either dunk a bucket of ice cold water on their heads and post the video to social media and donate $10 to ALS research, or donate $100 if they didn’t want to participate. It caught fire online and now the challenge has taken on a life of its own.

In a press release yesterday, “The ALS Association has received $31.5 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 20).”

Since the campaign started in July it has become a viral phenomenon that many celebrities and world leaders have participated in including, George Bush, Bill Gates, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah, Justin Timberlake, and many more. While reading about the buzz generated from the campaign, I came across this HealthLeaders article about three things it can teach hospital marketers. Not only is this relevant to hospital marketers, but anyone looking to incorporate a social media fundraiser in their marketing strategy can benefit from this lesson. Five ways the Ice Bucket Challenge applies to your marketing strategy:

  1. Make it personal— People are more likely to participate if you include a personal story or reason for the cause. The Ice Bucket Challenge directly calls out people so they feel an obligation to accept in some way.

  2. Make it relevant— Include a hashtag that relates to your cause. This increases brand awareness, and makes it easy to track the buzz. A good hashtag should include your organization/company name in some form, be easy to remember, and relate specifically to your campaign. #ALSicebucketchallenge is the perfect example.

  3. Include a Call to Action— After your hashtag is created, polish off your campaign with a call-to-action. The Ice Bucket Challenge uses two calls to actions, 1) dump a bucket of ice over your head and pay $10 to the cause, or don’t and pay $100, and 2) Nominate other friends to keep the challenge going. Think about the end goal in your campaign. What do you want people to do? Donate? Sign up for something? Join? Whatever it is, that should be what you center your call-to-action around.

  4. Share, Share, Share— That was the easy thing about this campaign, because it was personal, relevant and included a call to action, everyone wanted to share their video. If you do all the above, sharing is the fun part. Although the Ice Bucket Challenge seems to only be a Facebook campaign, consider sharing your campaign over multiple platforms to increase engagement and awareness with different groups or followers.

  5. Track and analyze results— Every few days the ALS Association has put out press releases announcing the amount donated in comparison to last year’s donations. Showing your success fuels more people to continue with the campaign. Everyone wants to be a part of something great. Make sure you measure the progress of your campaign multiple times, as you may have to adjust along the way.

If you haven’t been nominated to partake in the challenge yet, surely you’re next. Yesterday I was nominated by a friend for the challenge, check out my Ice Bucket Challenge video, and consider this my challenge to you—you have 24 hours!

 

Katelyn Fish is an Account Executive at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Katelyn’s blogs here. Connect with Katelyn at Katelyn@lovell.com, or @katelynfish.

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