5 Social-Media Marketing Lessons From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

No one can be certain what social-media gambit will go viral but the mania for dumping icy water on each other offers helpful pointers.

learn more about Robert Tuchman

By Robert Tuchman • Sep 9, 2014 Originally published Aug 8, 2014

As a board member for the ALS Greater New York Chapter, I have had a front row seat for the evolution of the now famous #ALSIceBucketChallenge" and how social media can impact a business almost overnight. The IceBucketChallenge, when it's all said and done, might just be the most viral post of all time. While you can't always replicate an idea with the same results, there are some important take-aways for all entrepreneurs.

Related: A Scientific Take on Viral Marketing

Here are five reasons why the "ALS Ice bucket challenge" took off and how you can implement them to benefit your own business.

1. The power of video. Videos have more of a tendency to go viral because watching them is more of an experience than simply looking at a photo. With the combined worldwide popularity of YouTube and Facebook, if something hits the right chord it will take off with lightning speed and reach exponentially more people. The big key is that sharing video only recently became a main stream form of content on Facebook.

2. It was fun. Something that is fun for the participant and funny for the viewers is a great combination. Dumping a bucket of ice water over your head is such a simple, silly thing to do. Who doesn't want to see people you know in this compromising position and if you yourself have to participate, it's worth it.

3. Celebrity appeal. Because it was fun, people of all ages and all walks of life took part and that included celebrities. These de facto endorsements would have cost billions of dollars if they had involved a typical, contractual agreement vs. a spur-of-the-moment viral event.

Related: What You Can Learn About Marketing From an 'Icy'

4. Timing. The only time this would have worked was mid-summer when the weather is, in most places, acceptable for a stunt like this. Few people would be willing to throw a bucket of ice water over their head in the middle of winter even for a worthy cause such as ALS.

5. Charity angle. People felt they were a part of something in two ways. They were having a shared experience with others and the charitable element turned it into feel-good cause marketing. Most people would not have done this if not for the charity element.

The lesson learned from the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge" is that if a basic social media marketing plan is well-constructed, there is no limit to the effect it can have on your business. Think about what you want to accomplish and then sometimes the simplest, most entertaining idea, combined with the right timing, can have a big impact.

Related: Soon, Everyone in Silicon Valley Might Be Dousing

Robert Tuchman

Entrepreneur Staff

Host of How Success Happens

Robert Tuchman is the host of Entrepreneur's How Success Happens podcast and founder of Amaze Media Labs the largest business creating podcasts for companies and brands. He built and sold two Inc.500 companies: TSE Sports and Entertainment and Goviva acquired by Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.
Have You Ever Obsessed Over 'What If'? According to Scientists, You Don't Actually Know What Would Have Fixed Everything.
Most People Don't Know These 2 Things Are Resume Red Flags. A Career Expert Reveals How to Work Around Them.
Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Business News

These Two Cars Are Stolen So Often Insurance Won't Cover Them

Progressive and State Farm have dropped some older Hyundai and Kia models after learning that a design flaw makes them easy to start without a key.

Business Solutions

5 Procurement Trends To Keep on Your Radar for 2023

Procurement professionals must adapt to inflation and a shortage of skilled labor in the face of an economic recession. Investing in a workforce paired with retraining and development strategies will put your company on top amid economic uncertainty.

Business News

Out With the Kibble and In With the Steak. The World's Richest Dog Has a Net Worth of $400 Million – And a New Netflix Docuseries Too

'Gunther's Millions' is set to unpack the pooch's mysterious fortune and what those around him have done with his inheritance.

Business News

'This Just Can't Be for Real': Fyre Festival Fraudster Billy McFarland is Now Hiring For His New Tech Company -- And He's Already Selling Merch

McFarland was released from house arrest last September and is currently being ordered to pay $26 million in restitution to fraud victims.