We can all agree that the Ice Bucket Challenge has been an online sensation! I don’t believe there will be one single marketer out there who hasn’t had immediate marketing envy for whoever came up with the idea. That being said, it’s not like something similar hasn’t been done before. Who remembers the #nomakeupselfie? Or the #iwokeuplikethis selfie? Is it going to get to the point where people stop participating in these viral campaigns? Will the campaigns that are worthy of our time still surface?

With the above in mind it’s probably a good idea to lay down the law for marketers everywhere. What key features of the Ice Bucket Challenge made it take off on such a huge scale?

1. They incorporated a good cause

What the Ice Bucket Challenge did so well was associating a charitable cause with something fun and sharable. The challenge goes for the soft sell instead of ramming it’s ‘product’ down peoples throats. Plus you can tell as it is for a charity that they aren’t just associating with a good cause to get you to buy something, they actually just want to raise awareness. If you are going try and combine your commercial product with a charitable cause then be very aware that if you are doing it just for the sake of it that the public will see right through it, make sure you think it through.

2. It had a low barrier to entry

Having access to ice, a bucket and some water isn’t something people will struggle with. If you ask people to have a ladder, 2 tins of forest green paint and a turtle, they would probably struggle. The lesson here is the lower your barriers to entry, the more accessible your product becomes. It is the same as when you ask people to sign up for something but don’t put the form right in front of their nose, people aren’t going to go out of their way.

Secondly, the Ice Bucket Challenge videos last from 20-60 seconds at a time which makes them really easy for people to watch and engage with. When we think about promotional videos online, around 95% of people watch the full length of those that last under 60 seconds so the ALS guys hit the nail on the head there.

3. They played on social media personality traits

Quite frankly, social media is totally narcissistic and the Ice Bucket Challenge plays on that perfectly. We love to take pictures of our 5 star food, hotels and holidays so what better way to fulfil that self involvement than videoing ourselves giving something back? If you don’t fall into the narcissistic category, the Ice Bucket Challenge creators still have you cornered because the challenge also plays on our guilt. After being called out publicly to participate you are bound to feel guilty if you don’t participate and donate. Lastly, for those of us who are feeling creative and competitive, we might want to donate more money or complete the challenge in a ‘bigger and better’ way. This personality trait has seen people pouring truck loads of iced water over their heads or holding umbrellas as the water parts either side of them – nice ideas guys!

4. It wasn’t the first of it’s kind

The Ice Bucket Challenge, as mentioned before, isn’t the original organic viral marketing campaign. The no makeup selfie took Facebook by storm earlier this year and raised over 8m for cancer research. Beyonce realised her new album and immediately #iwokeuplikethis trended globally thanks to her song ‘flawless’. The method of viral marketing is tried and tested. Sure throwing in a huge Twitter following and a celebrity or two helps but it doesn’t count for everything if the idea is right.

5. It educated people

The pure motive to reach a few thousand people let alone millions and educate them is enough to make any marketer jump with excitement. As a marketer all you want is people to see your branding and associate it with something positive or enjoyable. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge did extremely well at educating people and raising awareness about the illness. It became fashionable overnight to know what ALS was, if not then why were you taking part in the challenge?

What would you use as your viral campaign if you were given the chance? Comment below.

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