Kony 2012 is a Social Media Case Study For the Masses
March 6th, 2012, social media addicts and meme creators got their new explosion of fodder for their various channels of expression. After millions of Youtube views and a bombardment of tweets coming in at a speed even Justin Bieber could not match, Joseph Kony became an internet sensation, for all the wrong reasons.
What is Kony 2012 all about?
In case you are late to the party, Kony 2012 is a campaign launched by a non-profit organization called, Invisible Children. Invisible Children describes themselves as,
We are storytellers, activists and everyday people who use the power of media to inspire young people to help end the longest running armed conflict in Africa. We make documentaries, tour them around the world, and lobby our nation’s leaders to make ending this conflict a priority.
But we don’t stop there. Our development professionals from Central Africa partner with local communities to implement and maintain education programs and economic initiatives in the war affected region. Recovering communities require stability when it comes to education and economic initiatives, but the ever-changing conflict demands innovative solutions and quick mobilization. Our initiatiatives attempt to meet the region’s need for both stability and flexibility.
Their mission is to see Joseph Kony, a Ugandian warlord who has forecefully recruited over 30,000 children to fight in his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The campaign is designed to make Kony “famous,” so in hopes the uproar would cause America to lead a charge in capturing Kony and holding him responsible for the war crimes he has committed. The charge is led primarily through social media with a plea to raise money to build awareness of the issue, provide care for children who have been kidnapped by the LRA, and educating them in a safe environment.
More can be seen by watching this video:
How has social media benefited this campaign?
From celebrities supporting the campaign through their tweets to Youtube and Vimeo videos rising to the tens of millions of view in less than a day, social media has propelled Joseph Kony into national and international spotlight and causing people to talk.
Celebrities like Oprah, Rihanna Bill Gates, and Justin Bieber have all taken to their twitter accounts asking their millions of followers to join the cause:
Social Media Stats
- At the time of this posting, there have been almost 41 million Youtube views of the Stop Kony video posted above, along with almost 14 million on Vimeo.
- There were more posts on Facebook about Kony on March 6th and 7th than even Apple’s new iPad or TV releases.
- According to USA Today, Diddy’s tweet: “Dear Joseph Kony, I’m Gonna help Make you FAMOUS!!!! We will stop YOU #StopKONY ! All 6,OOO,OOO of my followers RT NOW!!! Pls!” has retweeted 62, 287 times
- On Twitter, #stopKony became a worldwide trending topic overnight!
So, what has all this uproar actually done for Invisible Children?
Well besides crash their website, it has created a heated conversation of whether the organization does any good in Africa and more specifically, there has been a bombardment of mud-slinging in how the non-profit utilizes the money they receive. This blog article is not to pick sides on whether Invisible Children have used their funds properly or the effect they are having in Uganda, but rather to highlight how they have responded to the allegations in a way social media users can learn from.
Three Take-Aways from How Invisible Children Responded
1. Don’t Pick a Fight, but Stand Your Ground
Rather than going after the nay-sayers or staying silent on their allegations, Invisible Children addressed the negative remarks within hours of the comments. They did not name names or call the blogs liars, but rather remind everyone of what their mission is and what they are after. Key: when you are after social good, stay on point and bring people back to common ground you can all agree on
2. Be Able to Back Up Your Talk
One of the main critiques is that out of the money coming into the organization, very little actually went to stopping Kony and rescuing the children. Being a 501c3 non-profit, Invisible Children’s financials were already available to the public, but they took it a step further and made an informative and aesthetically pleasing graphic.
3. Keep the Mission Moving
While the criticism continues to come in, it does not silent the mission Invisible Children is on. Furthermore, it is spurning people to do their own research and see the good that Invisible Children is doing for the nation. While watching a video on Kony does not make you an activist, Invisible Children’s goal of making Kony famous is being accomplished, and probably beyond anything they ever expected.
What are your thoughts on how Invisible Children is using social media to make Kony famous? Do you think it is an effective tool?