Secret of Viral Marketing : Case Study of #ALSIceBucketChallenge


In only a month or two, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become a social media sensation, designed to raise awareness of ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a condition that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and, devastatingly, eventually causes paralysis and death in sufferers.

It’s an admirable cause and, according to, has raised over $100 Million so far. The viral campaign has raised some concerns about the wasting of water (see our Water Aid article to learn how you can contribute to this other great cause), but whether or not you have agreed to participate in this latest internet sensation, there’s no denying that, from a viral marketing perspective, we can all learn a thing or two from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So, what made it such a success? What is it about such a campaign that makes it spread like wild fire? How did it capture the attention of so many people, including huge celebrities such as Bill Gates, Oprah, George Bush and Mark Zuckerberg?

Read our steps below to find out the secrets of a successful viral marketing campaign.

    1. Choose a cause and make it charitable

The Ice Bucket Challenge has a simple, identifiable cause. And it’s one we can’t help but get behind. With such a devastating impact on the lives it affects, ALS is something we may not have previously known about – but we all know what it is now. The cause is simple, and we don’t need to read through pages and pages of information to sympathise with it – a short explanation is enough for us to feel it’s a cause we want to donate to and spread awareness about.

    1. The power of the video

Not many of us have the time to read through pages of information. We live in a world where we want things to happen instantly. Video achieves this for us. By using a simple idea – pouring a bucket of ice cold water over our heads and video-taping the reaction – is something we all have time to watch! And who can deny how fun it is to watch our friends get soaked with freezing cold water! If you can make your audience laugh, as a marketer, you have them hooked!

    1. Make it quick!

People who are nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge only have 24 hours to take part. This gets videos uploading and going viral at super-speed! Each person doing the challenge has to nominate 3 others, so imagine the challenge spreading three-fold in each 24 hour period. That’s more viral videos than we even have time to watch! Before you know it, your Facebook feeds are swamped with cold, wet, screaming friends (and lots of donations to ALS)!! If you give your target audience a sense that they need to work quickly, you’ll reach your target before you know it.

    1. Share, share, share!

When you’re marketing a product or idea, it’s important to use all the social platforms available to you. So share your idea far and wide, and encourage your audience to do the same – whether it’s videos and pictures or blogs and articles.

    1. Give your audience the chance to feel good

Everybody wants to feel that they can contribute to a better world. By getting your audience involved in something that gives them a ‘feel-good’ factor, they’re bound to want to share that feeling. With something as simple as the Ice Bucket Challenge, anyone can take part or at least make a donation. So everyone has the chance to feel good and spread that feel-good vibe!

    1. Get the timing right

At what other time of year would people be willing to throw ice cold water over themselves? Of course, when people all over the world are exposed to the sweltering heat of summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge came at just the right time! So think carefully about the timing of your campaign.

So, whatever you’re trying to get the word out about, remember the Ice Bucket Challenge – the perfect example of true viral marketing!

To learn more about ALS, or to donate, go to