The Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) is a fad—a good fad, to be sure, as it [hopefully] raises funds for and [probably] awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”
But what has made the campaign so successful?
Selfies are not a new phenomenon, but research shows that they don’t go viral as much as if someone else were to either take or post that exact same picture of you. So, you can still take that photo or movie of yourself, but someone else should post it; we used to call this “earned media,” and today more likely “native advertising.”
There’s an unwritten rule among Millennials (and other youngins) that the more outrageous the selfie image/situation, the less socially acceptable it is to post the photo yourself. So, while selfies are neither passé nor blasé, if we want to keep the respect of our peers—and, more importantly, preserve the chance of the image going viral—we must behave as though they are.
But what is this urge to be seen in these [often staged] situations, and the need to have this go viral? It’s not a need for self-publishing, it’s a need for recognition.
We all want for our lives to mean something and have our existence acknowledged by those whose opinion (and own existence) we respect. Today, however, social circles are larger; the definition of “friend” has changed. Because of that you no longer needed to have been there to believe it, as social media now bridge that gap and in near-real time make others experience the same event.
The IBC, however, has now given everyone an out from the self-promotion restriction rule, and turned it on its head. You can literally buy your way out, raise your own status in the process, and self-publish an ever-escalating stream of outrageous behavior in the name of doing good. It’s becoming the greatest club of exhibitionists and voyeurs that have ever found each other.
And that’s the real marketing lesson here: What can you do in your campaigns that turns customers into exhibitionists, and prospects into voyeurs? We’re not talking Net Promoter Score here; that scale only goes to 10, and Exhibitionists score an 11.
GoPro has been doing an excellent job of accomplishing this (just check out their YouTube channel). Even Red Bull, the world’s most self promotional company, touts the virtues of GoPro. Just think about this for a second: without GoPro there wouldn’t be a Red Bull.
But the point here isn’t to send your customers GoPro cameras, but to turn yourself into a media company, regardless of what your product is. And then you feature your customers and nurture and enable them to participate themselves.
In the meantime, after you’ve donated to ALS research, there’s another water project that needs your attention.