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If you haven't heard anything about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in the last two months, you probably also don't know that the world's going to hell in a handbasket fast. I'll leave that between you and your news habits, but I would like to discuss the Challenge a bit because I think that it's a textbook example of how to go viral the right way.
It's happening right now all over the globe. There are dusty executives, in their dusty offices, with their dusty mentalities, and their dusty spreadsheets. Their board has told them that they need to up donations. That they need to find their "Ice Bucket Challenge."
It started out small, a challenge between friends to raise awareness and funds on behalf of someone they knew who was suffering with ALS. It became the viral fundraising event of the summer, raising over $100 million in one month (and going strong). Everyone, both nonprofits and for-profit businesses alike, wants to replicate the success of the #IceBucketChallenge. But is it possible to do that? Only if you’re willing to adapt.
While a trend is hot, news sites and agencies strive to build more attention and traffic with a form of newsjacking, leveraging interest in a trending topic to create attention for themselves. Right now, this is happening with the Ice Bucket Challenge, with dozens of news, blog and LinkedIn posts telling marketers what they can learn from this meme. I do not agree with much of what has been written, so at risk of engaging in newsjacking myself, I am going to write about this program and hope that it encourages more dialog and consideration about this craze and what it may or may not mean for marketers.
While you can’t plan to create a viral campaign, you can prepare to take advantage of one going viral. If you are lucky enough, like the ALS Association, to have this happen to you, astute enough to notice it is happening and ready to act, you can create a waterfall of opportunity and outcome for your cause.
Given the context of the ALS IBC, some may see GoPro using this cultural phenomenon for commercial gain as a tad evil and in bad taste. However, as a piece of social marketing, this content leverages the power of word of mouse and has sent the GoPro brand message to thousands of people organically - with as few barriers to consumption as possible - and I personally think they did an awesome job.
"Dear Socially Stephanie: I've been absolutely in love with watching all my friends take the Ice Bucket Challenge. Why did this campaign work so well, and how can I create a viral campaign for my business that will take over the world?"