Case Study - ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Since its start in 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $200 million in donations, most of which have been used in research and development of ALS treatment options and drugs. Millennials and celebrities extensively influenced the campaign through social media leading to its success. The success of the challenge is attributed to many factors including; the authentic story behind the campaign, reciprocity factor, authority of celebrities and public social proof. It greatly impacted on people and social media in terms of raising awareness among the public and increasing the use of social media platforms such as Facebook.
Overview of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
- The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- The campaign which began in 2014 was intended to encourage donations from individuals, corporates and charitable organizations for fund research on the disease.
- The challenge involves the filming of an individual while a bucket of ice water is dumped over their heads. An individual is then tasked with nominating at least three other individuals to do the same task and make donations to the cause within 24 hours.
- Anthony Senerchia Jr was the inspiration behind the campaign. He died in 2017 aged 46 having been diagnosed with the ALS disease in 2003. He was directly involved in the Ice Bucket Challenge Awareness Campaign.
The Bucket Challenge and Social Media
- Social Media played a significant role in the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge-which is considered one of the most successful online campaigns that demonstrate the power of social media in health communication.
- Initially, golfer Chris Kennedy, an influential sports figure, participated in the ice bucket challenge dedicating the same to his cousin Anthony Senerchia Jr, who was suffering from ALS. His donation to the ALS Association and social media posts of him taking the ice bucket challenge and linking it to ALS helped spark the ALS Ice bucket Challenge.
- The ALS Association upon determining the potential of the video movement sent an email to over 60,000 recipients officially launching the campaign.
- Subsequently, more influential personalities joined and the campaign went viral through millions of videos posted online by individuals who took part in the challenge. Different figures including politicians, sports personalities, reality TV personalities, journalists among others participated in the campaign.
- The participation of influential people in the society contributed significantly to the wide reach of the campaign on social media. Over 17 million videos were posted on Facebook and other social media channels. As more people participated and nominated individuals to participate and donate, more and more people got interested
Major Influencers of the Ice Bucket Challenge
- Millennials: Being a social media-driven campaign, Millenials were the most influential group in facilitating the spread of the campaign. Specifically, twenty to thirty-five-year-olds were the set target audience owing to their extensive engagement on social media and
- Celebrities: Many celebrities including Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake, Mark Zuckerberg, Leonardo DiCapno, Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Kennedy, and many others participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
- Celebrity endorsements played a significant role in building trust among the public and cementing the legitimacy and worthiness of the cause. Their involvement as social media influencers boosted the spread of the challenge on social media.
Impact of the Ice Bucket Challenge on People and Social Media.
- The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had a significant impact on people and social media. In terms of numbers, more than 17 million people across the world participated in the challenge. In the U. S alone, close to 2.5 million participated in the campaign, generating about $115 million to the ALS Association.
- The widespread participation is an indication of the challenge’s impact in as far as raising awareness is concerned, more people became aware of the disease and were resultantly interested in the campaign.
- Through social media, individuals recognized the disease and became attached to both the act of dumping water over their heads and donating to the cause as an act of kindness and show of support for the management of the disease.
- During the duration of the campaign, Facebook’s popularity increased with more people joining the platform to participate in the campaign.
- According to Facebook, over 28 million people joined the challenge by liking, commenting or posting about the challenge on the platform.
- Statistics released by Facebook indicated that about 2.4 million videos of the actual ice bucket challenge were shared in its video platform during those dates.
Successes of the Ice Bucket Challenge
- According to the ALS Association, within two months (8-week period), the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million in donations with $89 million directed to the research for a treatment, cure, and management of the ALS disease.
- Through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, ALS has tripled its research funds, achieving the status of the highest non-profit research funder outside the US Government.
- Researches are aimed at helping to provide opportunities for patients to have a better quality of life.
- ALS has also raised an additional $96 million worth of donations, showing the Ice Bucket Challenge’s lasting impact as a long-term trend rather than a short one.
- Since the Ice Bucket Challenge, 5 genes that will help spur new therapies have been discovered. The genes have and will continue to help patients in the management of the ALS condition.
- The ALS Association has funded over 200 research projects since the Ice Bucket Challenge.
- About 15,000 patients benefit from the community-based services through the ALS Association Chapter
- $7.5 million has been dedicated to the ALS Research Program at the Department of Defense to study why veterans are twice likely to develop the ALS disease.
- The ALS Association has been involved in 9 global research collaborations that have resulted in 2 new antisense drugs targeting S0D1 and C9orf72 going into clinical trials in patients.
Reasons for the Success of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
- Authentic Story: The inspiration for the challenge was a true story of Anthony, who was indeed battling the disease. From his account, individuals got the real picture of the seriousness of the condition and realized the need to create awareness.
- Reciprocity Factor: Reciprocity is an influential factor in human interactions. The Ice Bucket Challenge succeeded because of the expectation of reciprocation by individuals who nominated their friends, relatives, colleagues. By striving to reciprocate through participation, they made the challenge successful.
- Authority of Celebrities: The participation of celebrities like Oprah, Bill Gates and Lebron James among others in the challenge helped to imbue the cause with credibility and significance thereby influencing individuals also to get involved.
- Public Social Proof: As individuals continued to post more and more videos online, the public gained more confidence in the cause as it was a confirmation of the legitimacy of the ALS Association. As individuals publicly broadcasted their support, millions of people began to trust the campaign and subsequently began to participate.
YOUR RESEARCH TEAM APPLIED THE FOLLOWING STRATEGIES:
Even though the research was somewhat straight forward, we had to get creative in finding sources that could substantiate our research. As such we utilized a range of sources from credible media outlets such as USA Today and New Yorker, relevant website such as ALS.org and also research sites such as Scientific American. Even though we prioritized recent sources, we included a few sources that are older than two years that provided useful and relevant insights into the case study. Our findings are as herein presented.