August 27, 2014 Phil

Feeling the social pressure to support ALS?

It’s always great to see how the power of the Internet can have such an incredible influence on a fundraising. The KickStarter potato salad promotion , Movember for Testicular Cancer and now the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are great examples of how the convergence of a great cause, a big idea and a willing audience can lead to awesomeness. The ALS campaign is literally raising the online stakes for viral promotions. My Facebook feed is full of videos of friends who’ve braved the icy cold waters to honor a challenge. Never have I felt so much pressure to do something stupid for a great cause. When the numbers are in this could be one of the biggest online viral successes ever ($72 Million and counting).

I think the power of ALS challenge is setting a new bar for online marketers who are looking for viral opportunities. After seeing the impact of this promotion you can bet plenty of other organizations are going to be challenging their digital marketing partners to do it the “ALS way”. Who wouldn’t, the cost is low, the entertainment value is high and most importantly the return is exponential. What will marketers dream up next?  The pressure of finding something that will motivate and activate an audience will be huge. The ideas will flow, the campaigns will launch and the failures will follow. Why? Because although the Internet makes it easy to reach people, creating a viral reaction is often as big a surprise to the marketer as it is to the audience. It’s organic and grows from influencers who have a motivational spark that ignites a perfectly timed fire.

Appealing to basic human instincts such as guilt and compassion requires a certain magic that can’t be planned or predicted. It’s a bit like immaculate conception. Finding the formula, the chemistry that invokes this type of connection is still a mystery. Not unlike genetics and DNA, marketers are slowly unlocking the science of viral, but for now it remains a welcomed accident. I’ve been challenged twice and I’m refusing to give into the pressure, the guilt to donate the feeling of empathy for those suffering with ALS. Damn it! Where’s the ice bucket?