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17/09/2014 by

What Companies Can Learn From The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have somehow avoided social media entirely for the last few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen people accepting the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.

What Companies Can Learn From The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Story on

It involves a person dumping a bucket of ice water on his or her head just before pledging to donate money to research for Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The cause is certainly a worthy one, especially since people affected by the illness may only survive for a couple of years afterwards — and there is currently no cure.

Let’s look at a few reasons why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral. You may be able to use the insight to figure out how to get your own company on board next time a viral trend comes along.

How to Promote Your Brand While Supporting the Cause

Ordinarily, when businesses try to promote their own cause in conjunction with charities, people may come away with bad impressions as the efforts to be charitable seem less than genuine.

However, there have been a few companies that have figured out how to spread the word about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge while also gently advertising a respective business.

The Empire CAT company put its own spin on the challenge by getting a bunch of employees together and having the water get dumped on them with a huge bulldozer.

Because the business deals with industrial machinery, this was a great way to remind people what the company does while also supporting charity. Even after being published for just one week, the video got nearly 20,000 views.

CJ Pony Parts is another well-known retailer that decided to add a little something to the now ubiquitous charity challenge. In this case, CJ Pony Parts agreed to donate $5,000 to ALS research once its YouTube video for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge gets 10,000 views.

Considering how each person who participates is also supposed to make his or her own donation, a sizable chunk of change could be getting sent to a good cause.

Also, as each unique viewer watches the video, that’s one more opportunity for CJ Pony Parts to raise awareness not just for Lou Gehrig’s disease, but for its own brand.

Supporting charitable causes is also a great way to establish brand loyalty and, as you can see from the screenshot below, even convert competitor’s clients into your own.

cj video

People Appreciate Seeing Leaders in Humbling Positions

Business leaders ranging from the Apple Corporation’s Tim Cook to Tesla Motors’s Elon Musk are just a couple of notable people who agreed to do the challenge while the rest of America enjoyed the experience by watching video footage.

By agreeing to take part, those business executives weren’t just supporting a charitable cause. They were also demonstrating a willingness to be put in a vulnerable position.

Businesses who are trying to figure out how to ride the momentum of the next viral video on the horizon could do well to remember how vulnerability often translates into approachability — and that’s a quality people like to see in business leaders.

It’s Easy to Take Part in the Ice Bucket Challenge

One of the reasons why the Ice Bucket Challenge became so popular so quickly is because it relied on devices and platforms almost everyone knows well.

The idea is to take video footage on your smartphone and then post it on social media. It’s usually possible to take videos by just tapping the screen a couple of times, and uploading the content online is just as simple.

The next time you’re thinking about lessons learned from this chilly challenge and want your brand or company to experience some of the same momentum, don’t go out of your way to make things more difficult for people who want to take part.

The Crucial Ingredients

Regardless of the associated charity, people often feel good by doing something positive for people in need, and then taking to social media to encourage friends to follow suit.

Put simply, there are a few essential ingredients in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
1) A cause that resonates strongly with a large number of people,
2) An aspect that puts individuals in the spotlight in uncharacteristic ways,
3) Finally, a low barrier to entry for eager participants.

Most importantly, if you are a brand doing it remember to always give generously and somehow tie in your products/services in a unique way.

The next time you’re trying to create your own viral campaign or ride the coattails of one that’s taking off, keep those things in mind and see if you find similar success.

What About You?
What tips do you have for brands? We’d love to read your opinion.

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About the Author
Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator at an Internet marketing company. In her free time, she writes on her blog and is furthering her education online.


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