The Power of Viral: 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge: it’s trending on your Twitter, blowing up your Facebook, and autoplaying all over your Instagram. A month ago you may not have immediately recognized the term “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” but lately ALS awareness has spread like wildfire. Whether or not you’re a fan of its inundation on your feeds, no one can deny the effectiveness of the Ice Bucket Challenge as a powerhouse awareness and fundraising campaign.

The challenge is a choose-your-own adventure: you can either dump a bucket of ice water over your head or donate to the ALS Association and fund research to cure Lou Gehrig’s Disease (for extra karma points, you do both). You then nominate three friends to do the same, all the while making sure to post footage online and use hashtags to promote awareness for the cause.

As simple a concept as it is, the video trend continues growing in popularity. VideoInk reported just how well the Ice Bucket Challenge is doing on YouTube: in a 30 day period, more than 16,253 of the ice bucket dares were uploaded to the site, which together generated nearly 25 million views. In Silicon Valley and the Valley alike, celebrity involvement in the challenge includes names like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and, of course, Justin Beiber (TechCrunch has compiled a gallery of celebs’ chilly videos for easy viewing). Gates’s clever video quickly became the most shared video on YouTube, and more and more celebs continue uploading their own chilly challenges.

So, what’s all this mean for ALS? The following infographic from NXT4 demonstrates just how effective the use of online video can be in crowdsourcing important social progress. With 1.2 million videos on Facebook alone and 2.2 million mentions on Twitter so far, the campaign continues surpassing benchmarks at rapid speed. Last year (from January until this week in August) the ALSA received $1.7 million in donations. This year that number is currently $11.4 million dollars.

ice bucket challenge

The most important goal of the viral campaign – funding research to better the lives of more than 140,000 people suffering from ALS worldwide – has found explosive success. Forget cat videos and auto-tune parodies: the Ice Bucket Challenge proves that viral video on YouTube and elsewhere can be harnessed to accomplish great things for society.

by Maggie Altergott


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