Submitted by Kimberly Crossland on Thu, 08/21/2014 - 13:55

Nominations are in and you’re up next! Your Facebook friend chose you to complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Now, you have 24 hours to dump ice-cold water over your head, donate to the ALS association, or BOTH.

It’s a phenomenon hitting social media. Everyone from celebrities and former presidents to bloggers and children has participated.

Have you?

Content Marketing Lessons From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I have to admit. I wasn’t always on board with this idea. Although it is clearly a phenomenon, part of me thought it was a ridiculous idea. I live in Arizona! Water here is as precious as gold. What good can come of dumping good, clean water over my head? And apparently, I wasn’t alone in this thought. This meme sums my feelings on the stunt up nicely.

After a few weeks of standing strong opposed to the challenge, I was nominated.

My childhood friend who had no way of knowing that I was against the idea of wasting water put me in the hot seat. Never being one to turn down a challenge, I did some research.

  • As of August 20, 2014, the ALS Association raised $31.5 million in donations from the Ice Bucket Challenge
  • People who didn’t know much about the disease (if anything at all) are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of ALS.
  • It encourages charitable giving beyond the ALS.

This is user-generated content at its finest.

There is enough money being raised to matter. The attention drawn to the disease and the need to support charitable organizations is impressive.

As an entrepreneur, you want to make a difference too. It’s why you got into business – to fulfill a need. Although your product or service may not touch lives in the same way a charity can, there are still ways that you can make a splash (pun intended) with your user-generated content marketing.

Even if you just get a drop in the bucket (another pun!) of the same success as the ALS Association, you’ll still get more eyes on your content. Here’s what it takes:

Make it Meaningful

No matter what charity benefits from participation in the ice bucket challenge, it touches the nominee on a few different levels.

  • It makes her proud to donate to a worthy cause.
  • It allows her to share her experience with others.
  • It gets her involved with her social community beyond cat gifs and food porn pics.

Most people would not participate if there weren’t something meaningful behind the trend. To get your core audience involved, your content has to matter on some level.

Harness the Power of Video

People on social media love having an opportunity to get more likes, comments, and shares. It’s the nature of the platform. Video in particular personalizes the sharing experience. Getting in front of the camera to talk about a specific idea or cause adds a unique energy to the content.

Offer that same appeal using the power of video content. Encourage your audience to take a video of some kind. Get them in front of the camera sharing thoughts and ideas with you. It’ll break down barriers and immediately get them and their followers more engaged with what you offer and stand for.

Follow the K.I.S.S. Rule

The K.I.S.S. rule is, “Keep It Simple Stupid.” The harder you make it to create content, the less likely it is that your audience will participate.

With just a smartphone (which most people own these days) and a bucket of ice, you accomplish the mission. There isn’t a lot of thought or preparation that has to go into it. Better yet, the mission doesn’t require more than one person to complete.

Keeping your content as simple as possible to create eliminates excuses not to participate.

Keep It Enjoyable

Let’s be honest. Watching people shiver in shock at having a bucket of ice dumped over their head is entertaining. What’s even more entertaining are the ice bucket challenge fails… but I digress.

Fun-loving challenges are exciting to participate in and even more exciting to watch. Your audience is more likely to want to become a part of your content the more fun it is to watch.

Encourage Sharing

Once you’ve successfully dumped ice cold water over your head, you get to throw your friends under the bus. It’s the CHALLENGE part of the challenge.

Nominations are part of the fun and it forces participants to spread the love. Without this core element, the challenge would never have sparked the level of viral excitement it has.

Give people a reason to share your content. Without encouraging sharing, your audience will be far less likely to spread the love.

Have you participated in the ice bucket challenge?

In spite of my disappointment in the amount of water wasted, I participated using less water than some. I donated and then bribed my husband to take the video while I dumped the water over my head. It wasn’t bad (especially because I did it right after a very difficult workout). Visit my Facebook page to watch my overreaction to the cold.

Then, let me hear your experience! Did you participate, have fun, nominate others to take the challenge, donate? Tell me about it.