If you have not seen the Kony 2012 video, you may be living under a rock.
It is, without question, the hottest viral video sensation the Internet has seen in a long time. Looking beyond the forty million-plus views that this thirty-minute documentary/movement has achieved in a couple of days (if you haven’t watched it, you owe it to yourself to do so below), this admirable non-profit movement is giving a free master class in Social Media marketing to both non-profit and for-profit organizations. The group is called, Invisible Children, and they have been working for nearly a decade to end Africa’s longest-running armed conflict. The video is a touching and moving story about children, war and a part of the world that is all too often neglected. The ultimate goal of the organization is to make Joseph Kony (head of the rebel group, The Lord’s Resistance, and the world’s worst war criminals) "famous." According to the Invisible Children website: "Not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. In this case, notoriety translates to public support. If people know about the crimes that Kony has been committing for 26 years, they will unite to stop him. Secondly, we want Kony to be famous so that when he is stopped, he will be a visible, concrete example of international justice. Then other war criminals will know that their mass atrocities will not go unnoticed or unpunished."
Lessons from a Social Media master class.
- It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The website is simple and clean (and it’s one page). The idea is to watch the video or tweet about it, not to spend all of your time navigating a big and clunky website.
- The video works. It’s a mini documentary (almost 30 minutes long), but it’s shot well, edited well and – most importantly – it tells a personal story that all of us can relate to. Because they’re using both YouTube and Vimeo, they make it extremely easy for people to watch, share and discuss it.
- Twitter spam. Because they want to get Kony taken out of commission by the end of this year, they create a sense of urgency. Part of the campaign is to Twitter spam twenty celebrities and twelve policy makers (20 and 12 – very smart). The tweet is generated once you choose who you want to tweet and it reads, "Help us end #LRA violence. Visit kony2012.com to find out why and how. @billgates Join us for #KONY2012." The are encouraging people to "call out" these celebrities and are hoping that by inundating their Twitter feeds, they will take action, speak up and share the story. This was a super-risky move, but extremely creative. Others have tried this, but Invisible Children pulled it off.
- Social Media backlash. There are many aspects and angles to the problems in Africa. Not everyone agrees with Invisible Children and what they’re doing. They experienced a PR crisis because some organizations questions their intent (see here: Fast Company – Invisible Children Responds To The Kony 2012 Viral Video Controversy). Invisible Children wasted no time in explaining their positions here: Critiques. If you do nothing else, please read how they responded. Whether or not you agree with this organization, they responded quickly and they’re speaking in a very human and real voice. It’s inspiring.
- Calls to action. They’re taken this initiative well beyond the digital realm and encourage people to get a kit to help spread the story. They’ve also chosen a specific day in the year for people to take to the streets and spread Kony’s picture everywhere to make him "famous." The calls to action are both easy to do and act as an emotional battlecry for the cause. It’s something anyone and everyone can do.
Honest. Direct. Powerful.
Too many brands can’t wrap their heads around Social Media because they’re over-thinking it. Invisible Children leveraged a couple of well-known strategies, re-invented them, pulled them together and had a real story to tell. Most campaigns fall down because the story doesn’t grab attention. This one does (which is more than half of the battle). Beyond the great story, they kept it simple and drive people to either watch the video or tweet spam and it all comes together very well.
Kudos to Invisible Children. Not for the for forty-million plus YouTube views, but because of how it all comes together. It’s worth talking about… and worth sharing.