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Why Things Go Viral – An ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Case Study

On 22, Aug 2014 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Daniel Kao

If you haven’t seen your friends do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yet, you’re likely living under a bucket. (pun intended)

The rules for the ALS Ice bucket challenge are simple. Once you are nominated by someone, you have 24 hours to either pour a bucket of ice water over yourself or donate $100 to the ALS Association. After you’ve completed the challenge, you then nominate 3 more people to do the challenge.

The ALS association has raised millions of dollars by putting out this challenge, and could be considered a successful campaign by many definitions.


(a random example off youtube)

In digging a little deeper, however, I began thinking about why the challenge has gotten the attention that it has.

  • The challenge is easy to understand – Anybody can understand how the challenge works by watching almost any other challenge video. The people who conceived of this idea made sure to keep it simple.
  • The challenge is (mostly) entertaining to watch – Who doesn’t like seeing their friends dunked in ice water? Many people have gotten creative with their videos in an attempt to garner more attention and publicity. (Example of one below)
  • The challenge has a quick turnaround time – 24 hours is a very quick turnaround time to force people to not procrastinate. Probably the most vital piece of this whole challenge. The concrete deadline combined with the social and public nature of these videos makes for a very quick spreading movement.
  • The challenge brought awareness to a cause – For those people who are more into raising awareness than providing entertainment, the challenge provides an incentive to help explain a good cause.
  • The challenge has a pyramid scheme structure – By having the ability to nominate 3 people, it creates a pyramid scheme where the challenge spreads exponentially.

Food for thought when designing your next advertising campaign.

And as promised, my vote for my favorite video:

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The Value of Your Art

On 22, Jan 2013 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Daniel Kao

It is no longer enough to just be an employee who follows instructions, the world is looking for impresarios.

People used to be rewarded for their ability to follow instructions and do as they are told, but that type of worker is not what we lack in our modern day culture. The current economy rewards us for being artists, innovating and creating new things.

An impresario is someone who takes risks, ventures out into the unknown, and brings together resources to put on a show.

Art is what inspires people to think differently, go on wild adventures, and transform the world. It’s a manifestation of creativity to create something that has never existed before.

Art is an attitude.

What’s your art?

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Extending Your Reach

On 27, Nov 2012 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Daniel Kao

It’s exciting to invest in people who will reach people you never could.

If leaders lead from a place to build themselves up, they may benefit the people around themselves, but if they lead from a place to build others up, they benefit everyone around the people they lead.

Leadership yields the greatest impact from a place of service.

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Why Fliering is Stupid

On 05, Oct 2012 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Daniel Kao

You don’t have to be in college for very long before you get bombarded by millions of fliers you don’t want.

I’ve seen a lot of ineffective practices to try to promote organizations, but handing out fliers to random people on sidewalks is probably the dumbest strategies I’ve seen to date.

  1. It’s frustrating to people who are trying to go somewhere and aren’t looking to join any organizations. Handing them a flier is practically saying, “Here, put this in the recycle bin for me”. It also leads people avoiding fliers to avoid eye contact with people handing out fliers, or pretend to talk on the phone so no one bothers them.
  2. It’s frustrating to people who are handing out fliers because it requires a lot of effort to constantly try to force a flier on people who don’t want it and don’t want to engage in advertisements. Handing out fliers requires a huge amount of effort and most of the time there is little to no response.
  3. It’s completely ineffective because any organization handing out fliers is competing with all the other organizations that are trying to do the same thing. And when each person only hears a sentence from each organization, and only spends two seconds looking at the flier before disposing of it, few people are actually going to come out.

Fliering is a lose-lose situation, because neither the receiving end or giving end benefits from it. If you want people to join your organization, you’re asking them to place themselves into a community of people who are oriented toward a similar purpose. Therefore, building an organization of any sort is heavily dependent on building community. Community requires relationship. There is no way you can build a relationship with a stranger by handing out a flier.

I believe in the value of promoting your organization, but I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at how impractical most college organizations are being.

And enticing people with free food… I’ll save that rant for another day.

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Facebook Users: A Comprehensive Guide

On 31, Aug 2012 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Daniel Kao

My mind likes to organize and categorize things, and so lately it’s been classifying different types of facebook users. Just like real life people, everyone has their quirks when it comes to using social media, not to mention the wide variety of habits that become evident through social media. Next time you add a new friend on facebook, whip out this guide and judge them. Hard.

The Ninja There’s always that one friend who never seems to use facebook, until something very specific comes up and they spring out of hiding. Ninjas also seem to like attacking people with the “like” button rather than comments because somehow it is more impersonal and a further range of combat. Otherwise, ninjas often go undetected with very little signs of life on their facebook wall.

The Omnisciently Omnipresent These people have facebook as a full time occupation, even when they are doing business in the restroom. They always have something to say about everything that they see, and the must make their opinion known within 36.8 seconds of something being posted. These people are well conditioned to make a virtual beeline to facebook whenever they press the power button on their computer. They also often dig up things from the past, never letting anyone forget anything that has happened.

The Gamer Most gamers probably don’t even realize that they can add friends on facebook. However, they are well aware of pests within facebook’s system, and spend all their time moving their mice to hunt some virtual ones. Or maybe they’ve been so deprived of country music that they use technology to run a farm. Gamers are easily characterized by the colorful, game-related news streaming down their wall, as well as constantly inviting you to grow corn with them in their barn. Yes, quite corny indeed.

The Celebrity These (virtual) celebrities have a friend count that is over nine-thousand whether they have that many friends in real life or not. Whatever they seem to post, they always get over a hundred likes and some sort of political debate in the comments. Too popular.

The Autobiography Documenter Your bedroom is 15.6 degrees celsius and 60.1 degrees fahrenheit. Amazing. You needed to give both measurements because you have friends worldwide as well as in the United States. These people document in photos, videos, and tags to make sure that their whole web wide world knows that they just killed a spider. You know, if one of these people ever become as popular as the virtual celebrity, maybe they can just export their facebook profile and sell it as an electronic book.

The Troll Occasionally trolls will have an omnipresent trait to them, but most of the time they show their heads just to mess with you. In fact, the horror is that sometimes their comment will get more likes than your post itself. Trolls have nothing accurate on their profiles, making the unsuspecting believe that their political views are in fact in Sarah Palin.

The Super Ninja These are similar to Ninjas, only more advanced in their craft. Most of the time you won’t even be able to find these people. Super ninjas have Facebook accounts that are only active for 1% of the time, only to enter virtual social hiding the other 99% of the time. Occasionally, super ninjas will appear and like a random post, only to draw undesired attention in the form of wall posts exclaiming that they are back, only to disappear again within 3.9 seconds.

The Dead Dead Facebook users might as well have “terminated” plastered all over their wall. These people never respond to wall posts, facebook messages, or anything of the like. They also average a staggering 1.5 entries in their activity log each year. Dead Facebook users might as well be sent to the facebook graveyard. There’s a very appropriate nursery rhyme that goes with these types of users: “inactive user sat on a wall, inactive user had a great fall, all of facebook’s privacy settings didn’t care enough to put inactive user back together again.”

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