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The Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral, but how?

With over 15 million Facebook users posting about the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, and a whopping 1.2 million uploading their videos on the site since the initiative began, the mission to strike out ALS is more than just fun and games.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Emily Kamen, Townsquare Media New Jersey

One frigid ice bucket at a time, ALS awareness has spread like rapid fire. All it takes is a smart phone and a social media site, making the Ice Bucket Challenge one of the easiest social media initiatives to date.

Steve Miller, coordinator of undergraduate studies in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University, said there are multiple aspects to the challenge that caused it to spread so quickly.  “People have heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and sometimes you get an issue, a charity, or a subject that captures the public’s imagination at the right place and at the right time.” He added that, “There’s a fun aspect to it, which a lot of the other ideas that have passed through these portals just don’t have.”

The most shocking part about the campaign is that celebrities have endorsed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. “It’s pretty funny to watch celebrities pour ice buckets on their heads, so there’s an entertainment value.” Steve Miller said that small quirks like this are what makes the challenge so popular among Generation Y.

Living in a society based on celebrity culture, Miller said that the striped down candid videos of celebrities makes fans go wild. When they get to see their favorite stars on candid camera with no makeup and messy hair, they want to participate as well.

How can other charities and companies learn from the challenge? Miller said, “It’s important to understand that you can reach out to people as long as you’re not asking for an arm and a leg, just asking for a couple cents and a moment of their time.”

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