Remember three years ago when people were pouring buckets of ice water over their heads? The Challenge has been passed among neighbors, friends, and also to celebrities including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Ben Affleck, etc.. Millions of videos have been shared on Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks.
As a matter of fact, the Ice Bucket Challenge that we talk about the most is 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In the following years, the Challenge actually continued and was hoping to revive, but the 2014 one was never surpassed, at least until now. So why did it become viral? If we take a look at Jonah Berger’s theory, which we talked about in class, and apply it to the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, then we will find the Challenge a perfect explanation of the theory.
Social currency–people, whether they are celebrities or not, like to do things that make them look good, and they don’t want to be left out. Good cause is pro-social. Ice Bucket Challenge was for a good cause, raising people’s attention to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), then raising funds to help scientific research and patients. The other reason it went viral was that it was a direct challenge, which was hard to say no to, especially when you were nominated by others; this was probably more applicable to celebrities.
Trigger–it was very easy to remember, with all the celebrities.
Emotion–emotional messages are more likely to be passed on. Some “stupidly” funny moments, the good cause, the novelty, etc..
Public–social media made it unstoppable. It was built to show and grow and share.
Practical value–relevant to beneficiaries. According to ALS Association, the 2014 ice bucket challenge has raised $115 million in donations for the ALS Association since July 29, 2014. Most of the donation went for research and patient services.
Stories–it was hit. “[Celebrities] were doing the Ice Bucket Challenge in [location]! Check it out!”
In a word, viral products often have contents that are likely to inspire viral sharing. But why were the following Challenges not so popular? Well, going viral is very rare, if not impossible. People only want to see the best; in that way, who bothers to see the second best? Also, global exposure means global competition. Besides, when social media virality heavily depends on word-of-mouth online, 93% of things that we talk about are still offline.
2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a worldwide phenomenon; it even created a new way of fund raising. But people moved on so fast, so what will catch people’s eyes next in the world?