Talking tech since 2003

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may be the most successful social media campaign the Internet has ever seen. Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, its unlikely that you’re unfamiliar with this seemingly silly ice water craze that is sweeping the nation. If you still have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me enlighten you: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was devised by Pete Frates, an individual who has been diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or as it is more commonly known—Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and often leads to complete paralysis. Frates’ intention was to raise awareness of ALS by daring individuals to dump a bucket of freezing cold ice water on themselves or donate a Benjamin to the ALS Association and then nominate a handful of others to complete the challenge within 24 hours to keep the trend going.

The fact that the campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness and cold hard cash for a good cause rather than a greedy corporation, where the money likely goes towards lining the pockets of top executives, makes it that much better.  Don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with viral social media campaigns, in fact, I enjoy particularly clever ones and applaud the creative geniuses behind them. I’m just happy that the most successful one happens to be promoting a deserving charity instead of a fancy deodorant product that improves your mansmells (I’m looking at you Old Spice).

I’ve been seeing a lot of criticism about how the Ice Bucket Challenge really does nothing other than make the participant feel like they are doing something good, much like sharing a picture on Facebook will end world hunger; however, I beg to differ. Last year, the ALS foundation raised approximately $1.9 million dollars, whereas this time around, the donations, pouring in from everyone like Bill Gates to Charlie Sheen, have amounted to a staggering $22.9 million so far, and show no sign of slowing down. Not only has the challenge gone viral, it has taken on a life of its own and it seems like everyone and their mother has taken part in the challenge. Just type in #IceBucketChallenge or #StrikeOutALS on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and you will see an endless stream of strangers and celebrities soaking themselves to spread awareness. Now that’s what I call a successful social media campaign.

Setting the obvious monetary benefit aside, I truly believe that the level of awareness that this campaign has generated is astounding. When I first heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I curiously Googled ALS to inform myself about the cause that everyone was so excitedly supporting. I wouldn’t be surprised if millions of others did the same thing. I hope this initiative remains strong and keeps the donations pouring in. I’m also looking forward to the next big charity craze to capture the attention and the wallets of America.

Have you stepped up to take the challenge? Share your videos in the comments!

If you would like to make a donation to the ALS Association, you can do so here.

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