Challenge accepted
Challenge accepted

David Beckham did it. Taylor Swift did it. LeBron James did it (on a yacht in Greece, no less). Maybe your boss did it too. They all took the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, and then challenged their friends to complete it as well.

The social media phenomenon popping up on Instagram , your Twitter feed a.....

David Beckham did it. Taylor Swift did it. LeBron James did it (on a yacht in Greece, no less). Maybe your boss did it too. They all took the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, and then challenged their friends to complete it as well.

The social media phenomenon popping up on Instagram , your Twitter feed and Facebook accounts is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a movement dedicated to help raise awareness and funds to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

The challenge calls for an individual to pour a bucket of ice water on their head, post it on social media and then tag more friends to participate, creating awareness and an outward grassroots campaign. The challenge started with ALS patient Pete Frates and later caught on with Boston-area athletes before spreading outward across social media channels and state lines.

This user-generated action that has helped nonprofit organization ALS Association raise more than $15 million dollars is a testament to what it truly means to “go viral.” In addition, according to Twitter, there have been more than 4.2 million tweets dedicated to the challenge since July 29.

While some see it as a fad that will quickly pass, for the rare-disease community and other nonprofit organizations, this offers the outstanding opportunity of awareness — ice water or not.

But why did it blow up so quickly?

“Timing,” said Norah Carroll, a digital marketing strategist at Veridian Credit Union who tracks and studies how some videos go viral. “We’re in an interesting time this summer with consecutive negative events occurring in the news, and the feeling of helplessness is out there. “We feel like many things are out of our control, but this is a very simple and very easy task where we feel like we can make an impact and contribute positively to the world by intersecting social media with social good.”

Technology has also played a pivotal role in the involvement of so many people, including celebrities, past presidents and our neighbors down the street.

“Something like this couldn’t have happened five years ago because we didn’t have access to the technology; almost everyone has a phone and can create a video,” Carroll added. “The ALS Association has been involved in updating the public on the successes of the campaign, and it’s this organic reach and success that have made the biggest impact on this entire attempt.”

Whether you accepted the challenge or not, the bottom line is these simple but powerful tools of a smartphone video and a hashtag put ALS on the map — and could be a useful strategy in the future for other nonprofits and brands alike.

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