Many communicators are talking about the Ice Bucket Challenge, but the real question is whether you should participate in the challenge.

The Ice Bucket Challenge benefits the ALS Association or Macmillan Nursing. Unless your company has a real tie to these charities, think carefully before engaging in the challenge. It would be better to engage in a cause marketing activity which impacts your brand directly.

For example, if you are a technology company, you may want to support science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education. If you are a food company, feed the hungry.

With real-time marketing, too many brands sacrifice their messaging integrity to be part of a trend that doesn’t relate to their business. Where will the short-term attention get them in the long run?

Can you create your own challenge?

The Ice Bucket Challenge’s simplicity and relatively low pain factor are what make it such a viral phenomenon. Plus, challenging your friends is extra incentive. People like have fun with their friends. If an activity can benefit a charity and give people’s social media profiles a little lift, it’s even more likely to take off.

In short, if it’s fun and chat-worthy, people do it. Already we have the rubble bucket challenge.

Here are some tips to help you create your own Ice Bucket Challenge:

1. Make the activity quick and easy. Ask people for no more than a minute of their time. 2. Ensure the activity is fun and clearly benefits someone. Helping a cause or friend is obvious. Discovering a new food or something of the like is a stretch, but achievable. 3. Don’t make the activity marketing centric. The brand elements must be ancillary, not the primary aspect of the effort.

4. Work WITH a chosen charity. One that can boost your own awareness activities. 5. Create strong, catchy, shareable hashtags. #IceBucket works a lot better than #ALSBucket. Many people don’t know what ALS is, but the challenge may engage and educate them.

Build the best campaign you can that serves your brand and its audiences. Then measure how your core stakeholder groups respond.

What do you think?