The Vitality of Virality
$115 MILLION dollars. That’s how much the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised in 2 months. I know, I know…you’re sick of hearing about it, but inside this campaign are big lessons on how our brains work. A deeper look can help you understand how to use them, too.
Lets start by understanding the campaign.
Take a look at the typical format in one of our own, Gina’s Video.
…and then watch the best ice bucket fails.
Lesson #1: We say “yes” to people we know and like.
Remember Tupperware parties? A hostess invites friends for a demonstration. She gets a cut of the profit for her time and hospitality…and for enabling Tupperware to have customers buy from a friend, rather than a stranger.
The Ice Bucket Challenge harnessed this power by having friends nominate friends, creating an endless chain of familiar faces making the ask.
Lesson #2: Campaigns must combat procrastination
In a study conducted by Dan Ariely, he tested deadline-setting styles on his students, who had to write three papers. Group 1 set their own deadlines. Group 2 had no deadlines at all–just submit by the last day of class. Group 3 received three hard deadlines from the professor.
Any guesses as to which group was most successful?
It was Group 3. Group 2, with all that flexibility and freedom, fared the worst. Turns out, we humans operate best when an external voice gives us the orders.
So when your friend nominated you and said, “You have 24 hours to complete the challenge or donate $100 dollars to ALS,” it was much more powerful than if you had set the deadline yourself.
Lesson #3: We make decisions based on social proof
We often determine what’s correct by finding out what other people think is correct (according to Robert Cialdini’s Influence). Examples areeverywhere. Bartenders who “salt” their tip jars. Evangelical preachers who plant “ringers” to come forward and donate. Club owners who create long lines outside though there’s plenty of room inside.
Donating to ALS in the dark wasn’t going to inspire action. By encouraging people to “come out” as donors via video, the campaign provided social proof that dumping a bucket of icy water on your head was the correct thing to do.
Lesson #4: Watching someone we love flail around in discomfort is amusing.
This is where most creators struggle… “How to find something funny, interesting, viral-worthy?!” Here is a Green Rising exclusive tip: With no more than 3 people, find a white board anywhere, a bottle of wine, and go to town for 1 hour putting up the craziest ideas you can find. The one that takes the least amount of effort, and makes you laugh just thinking about it, wins.
How it affects you
When right-sized for your business, you can use these lessons to move your audience to act. You could start a referral program that plays on the power of liking. Put a deadline on your call to action to combat procrastination. Capture a compelling client testimonial as social proof that you are good at what you do.
Now, you have 24 hours to either forward this email to someone in need of marketing help or dump a bucket of water on your head.