Friday, March 23, 2012

How Kony 2012 campaign went viral and focused rare attention on Africa

Here's another article about the Kony 2012 campaign, which has more details about the strategy behind it:

"The main thrust of the campaign, as I understand it, was to get 20 'culturemakers' and 12 policymakers to make a statement supporting their campaign. By encouraging the folks they reached via e-mail and then via social networks to message those recipients, they mobilized a very rapid lobbying campaign."

"In the same way that a politician receiving hundreds of phone calls about SOPA/PIPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the US Congress) will want to reconsider a stance on the issue," Mr. Zuckerman adds, "a person receiving thousands of Twitter messages will want to figure out what they're being asked to do, and may want to join a movement, in part, because it might make the lobbying stop."

This strategy impelled celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres, Zooey Deschanel, Rihanna, Brent Spiner, and others to jump on their Twitter accounts and talk up the campaign. These folks, with sometimes millions of Twitter followers, acted to amplify the Kony issue.

What Invisible Children has done is difficult to duplicate. Their success is not a result of a new bit of code or a novel mobile application. What they have done is strategy, not technology. Most, perhaps all, of what they use are the standard tools of online outreach. But Kony 2012's strong message with its emotional appeal, the targeting of "influencers," and the consistency across media are what sets this effort apart from related campaigns. 

Additionally, their call to action is extremely simple: Talk about the Lord's Resistance Army and bug others about it. It may be what other human rights groups denigrate as "slacktivism," but it is well crafted to take advantage of the desire to be involved, so long as that involvement requires actions that are extremely easy to do from the computer – the same computer that you use to read about the campaign in the first place. Technology can be duplicated, but strategy requires a mind predisposed to its implementation.

Other groups fall short because they tend to have a complicated message, not enough of an emotional plea, or too complex a call to action. Any one of those things is a click-killer.

The campaign's veracity, the organization's financing and the general value of such campaigns have all been called into question. However, the fact remains that regardless of the purity of the organization, a strong message persistently propagated through every medium and supported by a stable set of social media relationships has helped to make Kony 2012 the digital cause célèbre it is today. 


How Kony 2012 campaign went viral and focused rare attention on Africa

Invisible Children, through its Kony 2012 campaign against the Lord's Resistance Army, had a strong message, social media, and a strategy for how to channel a youthful desire to be involved.

By Curt Hopkins, Correspondent / March 9, 2012


Lisa Longoria, of Kennewick, Wash., uses Facebook after school at the Keewaydin Branch of the Mid-Columbia Libraries, Wednesday, March 7. On Tuesday, the Invisible Children organization launched a program it called Kony 2012 to draw attention to the head of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, with a video that has gone viral thanks to social media.

Kai-Huei Yau/Tri-City Herald/AP

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