Ice Bucket Challenge: The Cold Hard Truth for Marketers

3 minute read

Upland Admin

Far too often, viral crazes that sweep the web are silly or annoying and serve little purpose beyond being entertaining. The Ice Bucket Challenge is different. It sure is entertaining, but what’s kept it going is universal appeal. It doesn’t matter who you are, what political affiliation you hold, or whether you like the band Nickelback or not.

Nickelback Ice Bucket Challege

If you don’t, just imagine they’re dumping your boos on themelves instead.

ALS and other diseases without a cure affect us all. They rear their ugly heads in the lives of friends and families, colleagues and mentors, our own bodies. The empathy and solidarity we feel for one another fuels the Ice Bucket Challenge. That relatable quality, as well as a mix of simplicity, timing, celebrity involvement, a strong call-to-action, and of course, the fun of watching people dump freezing water on their heads have created a rare and perfect moment for viral success.

Which is why marketers shouldn’t try to copy it.

Sure, there are plenty of lessons marketers can take away from this phenomenon. Rose Yakob (Social Fresh) did a great job covering them. As did Steve Olenski (Forbes) and David A. Frankel (Inc.).  But Dominic Basulto adds a twist:

“[The Ice Bucket Challenge] was an activity almost tailor-made for the way we use and consume social media. And, most importantly, you had the built-in viral element of having each participant name three additional people to take the challenge. But that’s not the real story of the Ice Bucket Challenge. The real Ice Bucket Challenge actually grew organically out of the casual activity of a bunch of athletes just having fun, and it wasn’t expected to go viral.”

So here’s the cold, hard truth for marketers: you simply cannot manufacture this type of thing.

There certainly some key elements that lead to viral success, and you can add them to your marketing campaigns or contests, but so much is still left up to chance and authenticity. Plus you shouldn’t necessarily be focusing on getting the most participation, but rather the right participation.

All of that to say you won’t see Kapost trying to spark the next viral sensation that sweeps across the interwebs anytime soon. You will, however, see us complete the Ice Bucket Challenge. Our friends over at LeadMD called us out alongside Marketo and Lattice Engines—and with the help of Rapt Media, we’ve accepted that challenge.

Below, pick who you want to see have a bucket of ice cold water dumped on their heads. Then, most importantly, take the time to learn about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and donate to the ALS Association or the charity of your choosing.

Ready? Watch Nader Akhnoukh, Anthony Claudia, Patrick Cameron, Toby Murdock, Riley Gibson, and Jesse Noyes do their part to raise awareness about ALS in the video at the top of the page.

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