Seven lessons from the ice bucket challenge. Five lessons from the ice bucket challenge. Social lessons from the ice bucket challenge. Forbes (they have two posts with totally different sets of lessons), HuffPo, Social Media Today (disclaimer: I often write for them), and a host of others have all published pieces giving us useful tips that marketers can pick up from this latest Internet phenomenon. Time it right, keep it simple, mix in celebrities –not sure that part was planned — start local, etc.
I am willing to bet that we will never see a brand or even a charity replicate this. Just like we never saw a brand come close to duplicating the virality of the Harlem shake. Or even It Gets Better.
Though we’re certain to see them try. I won’t be surprised if every charity’s marketing team is meeting this week to come up with their own online stunt. (Just as every brand on social media tried to match Oreo’s dunk in the dark tweet.)
That’s not to say that not-for-profits, brand marketers or their agencies can’t go viral, or take the web by storm — think Old Spice on Twitter — it’s just that they’re likely to miss the two single most important ingredients accounting for the initiative’s success.
It’s not that it was fun, or easy, timed for the summer, or launched locally.
The #icebucketchallenge was started by a person
Not a company. Not a marketer. Not even the charity itself. No one ever planned, or even dreamed, it would get as big as it did. In all likelihood, if it had been launched by a pharmaceutical company that offered treatment, or by a social media platform getting behind the cause, or by the cause itself, it would never have reached such scale.
After all, most of us aren’t on social media to connect with brands. We’re online to connect with each other. And when we do share ideas and content with our communities, it’s not because we like the brand or the message, it’s because we like our community and our friends. So we are doing them a small favor. Turning them onto something.
It tapped perfectly into the “me” trend.
This is the second reason the challenge went viral. One could argue that dumping ice water on your head and sharing on in your stream would never have attracted so many participants if we weren’t in the midst of the “me” moment, epitomized by the selfie obsession.
It’s not that I want to question anyone’s motives, but let’s face it, this craze is as informed by a desire to showcase oneself doing a fun/dumb thing as it is to raise money for ALS. That’s fine, by the way. After all it’s working to the tune of $40 million-plus in donations. But understand what motivates people.
In this case, the ask and a cultural-defining trend were perfectly aligned. If they weren’t, would the outcome have been the same?
Social media is great for stuff like this. Starting small, spreading joy, creating a community, sharing and joining. And I look forward to the next time this happens. I just hope we don’t have to endure endless attempts on the part of copycat marketers who miss the real reason this worked so well.