One of the campaigns we have all seen either online or on the news – from celebrities to our dear friends and family members – is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. What is ALS? According to the ALS website, ALS (or otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a neurodegenerative disease that impacts the spinal cord and the brain.
Before we go into the actions and power of the ice bucket challenge, we need to be aware of the background story of how this campaign came about – which is one of the reasons why this became so successful. It all began with Pete Frates, a successful baseball player from Boston College who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at the age of 27. Here’s his story and provides a deeper view into ALS as well as the start of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
It seems like everyone has done a video and been part of this viral movement, from celebrities to athletes and CEOs to people you know all in your network. It’s really become the face of viral fundraising - which is probably going to be a term you will hear a lot of PR and social media professionals talk about for the next few months.
However, from a PR and social media standpoint, this particular campaign has been a game changer not only for the huge increase of awareness and donations ALS has gotten since the beginning of this challenge, but it has also impacted brands like Facebook as well. From what we saw from this Mashable post, people were sharing these videos to Facebook, not necessarily Twitter. Why was this the case? Well, you can of course submit longer videos – but Facebook is where we have our social relationships – we are able to experience this with our colleagues, friends, and family.
There are several things we have to be aware of here from this campaign and as professors, we need to share this with our students:
- The power of storytelling: Each person who participated was able to share not only why they were doing this, but if they were participating to donate to the cause based on a family member or friend they knew who has or had ALS.
- Personal and simple messages: The message was clear, the actions for the behavior people had to take were direct and to the point, and it allowed a way for people to personally create and share a message with others. Not one video is the same – as well as the reaction to the experience.
- Presence of strong word-of-mouth: Who are we influenced by? Friends, family, and others of course – this allows people to see of course celebrities and other participate – but this campaign allowed everyone to have the chance to be part of this cause. Hearing actions to take from a friend or someone you have a relationship with – personal and/or professional – can be an important area of source credibility to explore here for this campaign.
- Sharing the experience with others: Everyone had the chance to share their experience in the ice bucket challenge, put forth their own spin on the message while emphasizing the need to donate to ALS, and to invite people to be part of the experience as well.
What has the result been for the ALS Ice Bucket Fundraising Challenge? To this day, they have raised over $53 million dollars. WOW! This is pretty impressive and definitely shows the power of social media, personalized experiences, and activism online to generate this huge success for the ALS organization. For those of you who have donated to this cause, thank you so much. We need to continue raising the awareness of this and sustain these efforts. If you haven’t donated yet, here’s the link to do so.
Hope you all are having a great day!