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Why the #IceBucketChallenge is Social Media Gold

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past month, you couldn’t help but notice that the world has gone a little crazy and social media has erupted with millions of otherwise sane individuals drenching themselves in gallons of cold water in a spectacle known as the #IceBucketChallenge.

If you have ever doubted the power of social media, you should try speaking to a representative of the ALS Association (a US-based charity helping people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Motor Neuron Disease as it is known in the UK) who have benefited from the viral craze which in just 30 days has taken Facebook by storm and helped them raise (at the time of writing) a staggering $100 million. Compare this to $2.7 million they raised in the same period last year and it’s easy to see how the organization is a little unsure how it is going to spend all the money raised.

In short, the #IceBucketChallenge is social media gold. There are a number of reasons why this campaign has grabbed the publics’ imagination and hit the headlines.

  1. Celebrity Endorsement: Celebrities were the first to take up the challenge and we’re quick to nominate their high profile friends. It was only a matter of time before the craze filtered down to non-celebs.
  2. PR: When high profile individuals like Bill Gates immerse themselves in water using a highly elaborate mechanism and world famous scientist Professor Stephen Hawkin (who suffers from ALS) endorse the campaign, how can it fail to make the news?
  3. Ease of Challenge: You can raise a lot of money by running a marathon or doing a parachute jump – but I sure as hell aren’t going to attempt either. All the #IceBucketChallenge requires is a bucket of water and a smart phone.  The barriers to entry are low.
  4. Ego: Some might suggest that social media has made us all a little bit narcissistic but it’s for a good cause. Do you need a better excuse to upload another video of you showing off in your swimsuit on Facebook?
  5. It Works, Even When it Doesn’t: According to a recent poll in the UK just over half of all #IceBucketChallenge participants  do not contribute to the charity. However, regardless of whether the individual contributes cash or not, just by taking part pours fuel on the public awareness of the challenge and let’s face facts, in online marketing terms a 50% conversion rate is pretty awesome.
  6. A Bit of Fun in An Otherwise Crazy World:  Let’s face it, global news doesn’t paint a very happy picture at the moment. At times we need a bit of good old slapstick comedy to raise a smile and it seems the #IceBucketChallenge came along at just the right time.

Photo credit: Drew Shannon.

Tags : social media

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