By: Kyley Murphy
Social Media marketing can prove to be either beneficial or extremely detrimental to a company’s brand image and what they stand for. One time social media proved to be extremely beneficial for a company was with the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge”. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a degenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. In laments terms, it is a disease that affects a person’s motor function that causes them to become paralyzed, and eventually leads to death. The ALS Association does not sell a product like most companies, but instead rely on charitable donations for their research in finding a cure for this disease.
Besides in the baseball community, with the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, or unless it affected someone you know, ALS is not a more well-known disease, like Cancer or Diabetes. This all changed with this challenge. When a Boston College athlete, Pete Frates, was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, his friends wanted to do something to help fundraise for the cause, so they came up with a unique way to do it. How the “Ice Bucket Challenge” worked is that a person would get challenged by someone else to dump a bucket of ice water over their head. Once they have done that, they would be encouraged to donate a certain amount of money, usually around $10, to the ALS cause, and then challenge other friends to do the same, while if you didn’t participate, you would have to donate $100. This unconventional marketing technique became very profitable for the ALS Association.
There have been critics to this challenge, asking how such a challenge could help to cure a disease, but this was not the point of the challenge. The article states that because of all this exposure, as of August 25, around $79.7 million was raised, where only $2.5 million was raised during the same period in 2013. The article states that this challenge became extremely successful because of the simplicity of it. Since people are always expressing themselves on their social medias, this was a way for the generation, known for their “selfies” to express themselves and show their support for this challenge in a fun way. Also, having endorsement from famous celebrities, like superstars, athletes, singers, actors, radio hosts, and other influential people helped to promote this cause. Some people might have been on the edge about doing the challenge, but if they saw their role model partake, then they would be more apt to participate. I do not think it would have been as popular without these celebrities.
This article shows how a company cannot always predict every form of social media presence their company will have, but that outside participation can be positive. The ALS Association has been working on a cure for ALS, but without sufficient funds it cannot be done thoroughly. Through this “Ice Bucket Challenge”, the ALS Association gained a lot of recognition. Through these individual videos going “viral”, the ALS Association gained the necessary exposure it needed to become more well-known and in in the end receive more donations. The ALS Association even promoted the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, which helped to make the challenge more popular and created more donations. Even though it would be hard to track how many people view each of the millions of videos, The ALS Association would be able to track this metric by the amount of time people visited their main website and how many people donated to the cause.
This challenge also enhanced their brand awareness, since in every video the creator would say what they were doing the cause for and where their new challengers could go to donate. Sending potential donators to their website was important so the Association could thoroughly explain what the donations go toward and answer any potential questions a person might have. This also caused positive brand awareness because people associated this challenge with participating in a good cause. People were drawn to this cause because it was a way for an individual to actually help promote instead of just donating; or, if they only donated to the cause because of the social pressures, they could use the viral videos to promote themselves.
Out of this “Ice Bucket Challenge” I can really only see one potential downfall. That is that it really only seemed like a fad that boosted initial donations, but it was not very sustainable. Even though the major impact of this happened less than a year ago, it seems like it happened much farther in the past. I would like to see if their donations from the same time period this year are more similar to that of the donations made two years ago rather than the donations made last year, so it might not make sense for the ALS Association to compare those donations to previous or future years. The ALS Association would have to think of another way to retrieve donations, maybe by sponsoring a walk other societies do.