4 tips for creating viral content #gamification #icebucketchallenge

A couple of days ago I got nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a viral awareness campaign that has been knocking around the internet for a few weeks now. A person is challenged to pour a bucket of ice water over their head, film it and nominate others to do the same. If they don’t want to do that, they can donate to the ALS (or in the UK Motor Neurone Disease) charity.

The video above is my contribution.

This challenge has been massively successful, raising millions for the charities and also making millions aware of the disease. But what has made it such a success?

I decided to use my User Types Hexad Analysis tool to look at the types of people that may get the most out of this campaign. I had assumed it would be the philanthropist / altruist types, but was a little wrong.

What elements and motivations are at play then? For me the following:

Elements (click to see more)

Ice Bucket Challenge Hexad 300x300 4 tips for creating viral content gamification icebucketchallenge

As you can see, this actually favours the Socialiser slightly more than the Philanthropist!

The thing is, there is a huge amount of social play involved in this challenge. I think the, ones being status and pressure. Think about it.  You are challenged by someone you know. They give you 24 hours – that is Social Pressure and Time Pressure in one hit. Add to that the status and pride you could lose by backing out and you have a real challenge on! You also want to be a little creative, for some this may be one of the most “fun” aspects of the challenge – see how interesting you can make you video.

There is lots of other stuff at play here as well, celebrities have been doing it, so many will want to emulate their heroes. There is competition – who can use the most ice, who can do the most extreme challenge etc.

Of course there is also the charitable aspect, the purpose and meaning of it all. That is why I did it. It was a fun and interesting way to raise money and awareness for a good cause.


As well as doing the Hexad analysis, I thought I would map some of the Fun types I have been working on. These seem to fit best!

Challenge, Fellowship, Sensation (well some might like the cold!), Competition, Humour, Altruism, Curiosity, Schadenfreude (we all watch the videos for the reaction don’t we!?).

That is quite a lot of areas of fun that these challenge videos hit.

A lesson in virality

There are many lessons we can learn from this for our own projects, be they charitable or otherwise.

  • Have a story people can emotionally invest in
  • Create novelty
  • Make it social
  • Keep it focused and simple

Donating to ALS / MND and finding out more

If you want to donate to ALS (Motor Neurone) your self, here’s how.

  • In the US head to http://www.alsa.org/donate
  • In the UK text ICED55 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 (you can change that to any value in the text) to Motor Neurone Disease

Alternatively, you could donate to Macmillan in the UK. My wife did her challenge to raise money for them and many in the UK are doing the same. I feel it is a very worthwhile cause also! Text to Donate £3 to Macmillan by sending ICE to 70550


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5 thoughts on “4 tips for creating viral content #gamification #icebucketchallenge”

  1. Excellent article. I found the Ice Bucket Challenge very interesting because of its viral approach. An example of how to spread a message by teasing others to perform an action.


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