Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ripoff or Revolution? What Social Media Marketers Can Learn from KONY 2012

There is some heated debate circulating the social media and blogosphere about the recent viral video from Invisible Children, a nonprofit organization leading the movement to bring down one man, Joseph Kony. Regardless of whether you support or oppose KONY 2012, as a marketer, what can we learn about this video that has swept the Web?
I first looked into KONY 2012 after a friend posted a picture on Instagram of the bracelet she had purchased to support the cause. In little over 24 hours my Facebook News Feed and Twitter Feed were saturated with reposts of the video along with people's opinions.
Some were commenting about the power of the Internet. Others about all the social revolutions we've seen since 2011. And many made remarks about how that video opened their eyes to the atrocities occurring in Africa every day.
Shortly after the video went viral, a Tumblr account also began to go viral. Visible Children is a Tumblr started by Grant Oyston, a university student. Just another young person who like the rest of us found the video on some social circle. The difference? He started asking questions.
He started questioning KONY 2012 in ways that many others were not. With viewers jumping at the chance to donate and fundraise for the cause, I'm sure it would have been shocking for them to find out that only 32 percent of their funds actually went to towards aid.
I am not going to share where my opinion lies, but instead delve into this topic as an unbiased social media professional.
KONY 2012
Some Invisible Children KONY Numbers & Stats
  • As of March 9, 2012 and since its original upload on March 5, the video has been viewed 52 million times on YouTube. With 1,106,335 likes, 45,649 dislikes and 422,868 comments. 
  • The video currently has 14.6 million views on Vimeo with almost 19,000 likes and 1,062 comments.
  • In four days, since the YouTube premiere of KONY 2012, Kony or the #StopKony hashtag has been mentioned on Twitter over 10 million times.
  • The video has been shared on Facebook over 2 billion times. 
Stop Kony Invisible Children
How did Invisible Children manage to do this?
Though the integrity of Invisible Children as a charity is in question, one thing I know I commend is their strategy and marketing power. From that perspective, IC is gold.
  • They created a good product. Between the video, the website and their merchandise, the KONY product is well designed, well developed and well versed. It appeals to their main demographic, the youth.
  • A video that touched viewers on a personal level. Instead of solely being informative about what their charity was doing it became a matter of why they were doing it.
  • Invisible Children didn't underestimate the power of the youth. They first cultivated a strong movement by preaching their message at colleges and universities across America.
  • A clear understanding of how to leverage social media as an effective marketing tool. Reaching out publically to celebrities and politicians who are active on these networks was crucial to this video going viral.
  • Finally they close their video with a call to action. "ABOVE ALL SHARE THIS MOVIE ONLINE IT'S FREE."
So is this video actually a ripoff? Are people falling for a scam? Or is this actually a social revolution?
I leave that for you to decide. But as marketers I think we should all take some notes here.

Author: Mary Manzo


  1. Yes. The power of the net thrashes its tail, raising up another tidal wave only suggesting the power of what may come from that still unknown species.

    What surprises me, though, is just how limited so many americans' perspectives of the world (beyond its borders), has become. Orphans in Africa, or India, and so on. OMG. That these were "invisible people" to those innocent of world affairs is breathtaking. I thought all the Hollywood stars with all their finances, snatching up a child here or there, would have solved this problem.

    Never mind about the 32%. Wait until the money gets to Africa; there will be nothing left.

  2. ‘KONY 2012′ Tops 100 Million Views! Becomes the Most Viral Video in History....