Try going 24 hours without getting a Facebook notification that someone you know has participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This fundraising phenomenon has clogged Facebook pages, infiltrated Twitter feeds and taken over YouTube channels, proving (as we always suspected) that a link and a hashtag do not a digital advocacy campaign make.
Anything that goes viral this fast is sure to garner its share of controversy. The challenge has been praised as a brilliant way to raise awareness but it has also met some criticism for its messaging; some say that the videos of people, particularly of celebrities, pouring water on themselves overshadow the purpose of the cause. That said, having raised nearly $80 million dollars in donations, it’s impossible to deny that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media game-changer. But WHY did it work?
Here are four key ingredients for a successful digital campaign based on the challenge:
1) Call on others
One could argue that the true brilliance of the Ice Bucket Challenge lies in the final step in the process. It’s not enough to demonstrate your support for a cause— you have to demand that others do the same. What better way to carry the message forward than to call on others publicly to take the challenge?
2) Make it short, make it clickable
Here’s the thing about all those videos populating the social networks—they’re actually pretty hard not to watch. You want to see the challengee’s reaction to the cascading icy water. Plus, most of the videos are less than a minute long, playing to the public’s ever-dwindling attention spans.
One of the reasons why The Ice Bucket Challenge was able to drive such results lies in its simplicity. Almost anyone, from Steven Spielberg to our SVP Tom Donnelly’s four year old son, has the ability and the ingredients to participate. People like to ‘do good’ and the Ice Bucket Challenge makes it easy to get behind a cause.
4) Film it
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth at least a million. And a video which lets viewers watch people they recognize do something silly for a good cause is, apparently, worth even more.