Even the best viral stories have a finite lifespan, and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is no different. Retweets about the challenge tapered significantly over the weekend, as show in the chart below.
So much has been written (two good stories can be found here and here) about this phenomenon that even the “What can we learn?” perspective seems to have been well covered. But one thing that is worth pointing out is the resurgence of the videos August 20 and 21, after it had already started to taper off amidst viewer fatigue and even a bit of backlash.
It’s difficult to know for certain what caused this renewed two-day surge, but one significant contributor appears to be this video from Anthony Carabajal. He has a powerful, emotional story to tell, and at least in my feed, the video was widely circulated with commentary to the effect of “If you’re tired of the Ice Bucket Challenge videos, make sure you watch this.”
It’s tempting to try to correlate the increased traffic on August 20 and 21 to his message, and then to hypothesize how that impacted ALS fundraising—but we’ll leave that to the many researchers who will surely be analyzing this phenomenon. My guess is that the impact of this video on the course of ALS fundraising is in the millions of dollars.
Data aside, the Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon is just the latest example of how authentic, emotional stories can spur each of us to action. And how the human-to-human connections we have all mapped on social networks enable the rapid spread of the stories.