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Search trends prove the ice bucket challenge worked

Benedict Cumberpatch does the ice bucket challengeThe ice bucket challenge is a bit of a phenomenon. I can imagine the meeting where someone suggested an awareness campaign by asking people to tip buckets of water over their heads. Someone probably asked, “How will this help to raise awareness and get more people to make donations?”

Another person probably questioned whether something silly would help people take the issues seriously.

The results are evident in Google’s search trends, which demonstrate a massive rise in the number of queries for “ALS” and “MND”, as well as “ice bucket challenge”.

Facebook is dominated by videos of people doing the challenge. Literally dominated. So much so that people will soon bore of them very fast. But the campaign has been a massive success.

Google Trends shows a huge increase in demand for the following phrases in search:

  • ice bucket challenge
  • ALS
  • MND
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Motor neurone disease

Search trends for ice bucket challenge

The above graph is UK search demand. The demand worldwide is much higher. That’s a lot of people looking to find out about the charities and their causes, which must prove that the campaign’s aim has been achieved.

But Macmillan stole the idea with an ice bucket challenge of its own

Macmillan Cancer SupportĀ copied the ice bucket challenge idea with its own version – unashamedly piggy-backing on the trend to get some publicity and funds for itself.

Macmillian ice bucket challenge

Despite criticism from some of its hijacking of the idea, a Macmillan spokesperson said the charity jumped on the trend because it was “trying to be bolder” with social media, citing that the charity had failed to join in the #nomakeupselfie trend last year, which raised millions for Cancer Relief.

I suppose one idea for Macmillan, in terms of “being bold” on social media might be to come up with something original?

As you an see, Macmillan has also benefited from a massive increase in brand searches over the past two weeks.

Macmillan search trend

Macmillan has also been paying for clicks on Adwords. Search for “ice bucket” on Google, and this ad appears, above the Wikipedia link for the ice bucket challenge, which ranks number one organically.

But what is it all about?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a variation on the cold water challenge, which has been popular for some time in some social (media) circles. In that challenge, you either donate to a nominated charity or you jump into cold water.

ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a form of motor neurone disease. The ALS Association in the USA led the latest ice bucket challenge campaign and it was also promoted by the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK.

Some variants of the challenge involve a charitable donation as a forfeit, while others believe the challenge is to make a donation as well as carrying out the challenge.

The rules change as the challenge is passed on, with many people not really checking how it’s supposed to be done. Here is the MND Association’s own explanation.

Not everyone thinks it’s a great idea

Aside from the massive publicity and traction that the challenge has achieved, there are many who are also complaining about it. Wasting water is the most common complaint, and this is summed up no better than in this image, which is now doing the rounds on Facebook.

Ice bucket water wasting

Other charities are benefiting from the massive publicity because of other people making reference to those other worthwhile causes.

Watch this video by Australian newscaster Lincoln Humphries, who thinks there are otherĀ things we can also be donating to.



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