co Did You Take The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? |

A lot of people have been doing it.

The internet challenge of dumping a bucket of ice water on your head and donating $10 (or the forfeit $100) to ALS research has been viral. Celebrity or not, over a million people have stepped up to the challenge and taken a short video while they did it, then turned around and nominated three friends to do the same thing before they grabbed a towel. If there were an alien researcher watching all this, it would be shaking its head in disbelief.

Why do humans act this way?

Tech Republic looked at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Why it worked and what social media marketers can learn. A lot of marketers are trying to learn from this highly successful phenomena because it would be great if they could figure out the magic formula. I don’t think it’s exactly magic, but there are some things we can learn from it.

Create A Compelling Message

Emotional resonance is the energy that connects the viewer to the message and elicits a response. In the ice bucket thing, while people do agree about the tragedy of ALS, the triggering energy is actually not the disease — it’s the humor of seeing all these people dump cold water on themselves or get drenched by a willing associate.

It’s also peer pressure and competition. I can just imagine somebody’s mother saying, “if all your friends dumped ice water on their heads, would you do it?” The answer is all over the social media sites, and mom probably got nominated yesterday. It only takes a few minutes of discomfort and a few bucks to join the club that everybody else is joining.

Make It Easy To Respond

Part of why the ice bucket challenge has been viral is because it is easy to do. You have to respond in 24 hours, and most smartphones can record your response and post it online. It’s hard to measure the response, though, because this is not a marketing campaign where the initiators have control over what happens. The fact is, we don’t know how many people have done the ice bucket challenge. It looks like there’s been 1.3 million first-time donations to ALS, so it definitely has worked.

What Marketers Can Learn

This is a perfect example of the power of word of mouth and earned media. This kind of dream campaign isn’t one that is reproduced in a carefully researched strategy. But we can get to know our audience and learn what resonates with their emotions. We can make our calls to action simple and make it easy to do the action that is called for.

I’d be interested in hearing what you think about this — did you do it? Why?