It’s almost impossible to miss the countless videos of people dumping ice-cold water on their heads in the last two weeks to promote the awareness of ALS. While participants in this challenge are busy with their nominations, others are questioning its effectiveness. Regardless of how you feel about the “#IceBucketChallenge,” one thing we can all agree on is how this has turned into a social media phenomenon that will go down in history. This challenge also shows our ever-changing culture, especially when it comes to millennials.
Many would argue that after one does the challenge, he or she will forget about ALS and why they decided to do the challenge in the first place. The truth is, the reason why challenges like these become viral is because of the millennial generation. Recently, there have been a lot of stories about millennials, and for good reason. This is the generation that defines how we use social media platforms right on through how companies market themselves. A recent study by AdWeek, reported 93 percent of millennials purchase a product after hearing about it from a family member or a friend. The study shows how powerful “word of mouth” can be.
Between the “word of mouth” tactic and millennials having the need to be a part of something, it shouldn’t be a surprise how quickly people adopted the challenge. We can even look at the effectiveness of past campaigns such as the #Haiti donation campaign and Livestrong bracelets to see how this “be a part of something” attitude has resonated over the years. A majority of these campaigns were part of “hashtag activism” which allows someone to pretend they’re doing something instead of actually doing the deed. That ranges from asking a user to “share”, “re-tweet” or “post” about the issue. It’s something simple and makes the person feel they’re an integral part of the cause.
People didn’t expect for this challenge to have celebrity endorsements. Yet between early adoption and the mass number of everyday people doing the challenge, it was almost impossible for celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon and Matt Lauer to decline or ignore it.
For those who may still be against the challenge, The ALS Association reported it received $4 million in donations this year compared to the $1.12 million during the same time period last year. There’s no doubt there will be other challenges like this in the future and how quickly they can catch on and how many donations they can raise will be an increasingly popular topic to follow.