The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: 100 Million Reasons to Use Social Media

Ice Bucket

The Ice Bucket Challenge, the summer’s social media phenomenon, generated $100 million in donations, to fund ALS research, in just one month.  This is a 3,500% increase from the $2.8 million that the ALS Association raised during the same period last year.[i]  The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness for ALS, AKA:  Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The success of this campaign can be summed up in one word:  ENGAGEMENT.  The engagement rate of a post on Facebook for instance, consists of the number of “likes”, comments and shares it receives.  This is precisely what distinguishes social media marketing from more traditional forms and also, what makes it so effective.  Engagement translates to increased exposure, which is exactly what you want for your brand.  For private practice medicine, your practice IS your brand.  If we examine the elements of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, we can gain insight into which social media tactics lead to increased engagement rates.  Armed with that, we can create more effective social media campaigns of our own.

The rules of the challenge are as follows:

You are nominated (dared) on a social media site, such as Facebook, to participate in the challenge.  You then have 24 hours to respond by either taking a video of a bucket of ice water being poured on your head or donating $100.00 to  Thousands of people did both.  During the video, participants nominated others to do the same, thereby keeping the campaign alive.

What about this particular campaign made engagement a sure thing?  Here are a few components:

  • It involves a dare.  Participants are “called out” on social media via video, which increases the chance of participation.  It’s human nature to want to rise to the occasion.  Key takeaway:  Create content that makes people want to participate with your practice.
  • It’s fun! The videos are fun to make and fun to watch. The greatest thing about this challenge, aside from bringing awareness and money to a worthy cause, is watching the most unlikely people – CEO’s of major corporations, celebrities, your shyest friends – videotape themselves pouring a bucket of water over their heads.  Key takeaway:  Keep your content fresh and funny.  A clever meme or funny video goes a lot farther than plain text.
  • It’s for a good cause.  It’s much harder to ignore a dare on social media when your action brings awareness to a worthy cause.  Key takeaway:  Compelling content is more effective.  You need to appeal to your audience on an emotional level.  In private practice medicine, especially in cosmetic and concierge practices, this means “selling” a lifestyle change. Your prospective patients need to be convinced that your services will improve the quality of their lives.
  • There’s a time limit.  Since the participants only had 24 hours to respond to the dare, they had to act fast.  This gave them little time to think of reasons why not to participate.  The more time you give someone to think before taking action, the more chance you have that doubt will creep in.  As with any marketing campaign, creating a sense of urgency increases the effectiveness.  Key takeaway:  When you run a promotion, always include an expiration date in the near future.

What this challenge teaches us about social media campaigns is that you have to keep your content fresh.  Another important component of this campaign is that it was unlike anything we’ve seen on social media to date.  Be creative!  Also, listen to your fans. They are your greatest barometer for the effectiveness of your content.  If the majority of your fans don’t engage with a particular post, they are telling you that your content isn’t compelling enough.  So, try something new.  As with most things in life, variety is the key.  Content on social media is always more effective if the message you are trying to convey is delivered within a fun post.  Remember, fan engagement is the key to success with social media content.



Categories: Social Media

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