This past summer, most every one, from your next-door neighbor to Oprah Winfrey, willingly recorded and uploaded a video of them dumping an entire bucket of ice water on their head. It was difficult to scroll down your Facebook newsfeed without seeing at least one “Ice Bucket Challenge”. Why were people doing this to themselves? Was this summer really THAT hot?
While the ice water may have cooled people down momentarily, this was not the reason behind all of the Facebook videos. The goal of this challenge was to raise money and awareness for the disease ALS. The idea behind the challenge was that each person completing the challenge would nominate three of their friends as well as donate $10 to the ALS Association. If a nominee did not elect to participate in the challenge, they were supposed to donate $100 to the cause.
According to Wall Street Journal and Time, the challenge started amongst a group of golfer friends raising money for small, local charity. One of these golfers, Chris Kennedy, completed the challenge and changed the charity recipient to the ALS Association in honor of a relative suffering from the disease and from there the challenge took off.
The power of Facebook and social media aided the marketing of the ALS ice bucket challenge. Everyone completing the challenge was required to nominate a few of their friends and tag them in the video. This caused each video to pop up on friends of friends’ newsfeeds, increasing the popularity of the challenge further. Also, each video, whether posted on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, was hashtagged with #ALSIceBucketChallenge or #StrikeOutALS. Anyone in the nation with a public Twitter account could click on this hashtag to see what all they ice bucket challenge hype was about.
Critics of this challenge say that this social media fad did not do any real good for the ALS Association. Were these 14-year-old kids on Instagram really donating $10 to ALS? Despite the critics, the ALS Association reported that they received $115 million dollars from over 3 million donors this summer, a huge jump from the $1.9 million that was donated during the summer of 2013.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an amazing example of the good that marketing through social media can achieve.