Lessons learned from Kony 2012

The recent viral documentary campaign to raise awareness for the charity Invisible Children about the activities of Joseph Kony and the Lords’s Resistance Army was universally received as a brilliant piece of film-making and a significant propaganda statement (if you haven’t seen it you should make yourself a cup of coffee and then click the play button below – it’s 30 mins long). There is much that can be learned from this sort of activity and used as a case study of viral capability.

First some facts (at the time of writing):

  1. Nearly 80 million hits on YouTube
  2. Over 1.3m likes and 643k comments on YouTube (comments now disabled)
  3. 17.1 million hits on Vimeo
  4. 21.2k likes and 1.2k comments on Vimeo

Many NGOs and charities have criticised the film as being too simplistic in its argument for the capture and bringing to justice of Joseph Kony. That’s as maybe but it is nothing to do with the success of the piece, since it was all about awareness and fundraising. In both respects it has been massively successful, as the statistics above bear out. However it’s the audience profile that is of interest since this is a political campaign and yet the predominance of viewers are between 13-24, the majority being girls aged between 13-17.

So what causes them to watch the film? The power of social media. Simply put, the film is emotive to youngsters as the content portrays those of a similar age in a regime of fear and oppression, and that’s what causes them to spread the word.  And that’s Jason Russell’s genius – using his son as the central character in the drama and thereby drawing on an audience of active social media players to act as advocates for the cause.

Like all good communication it all comes down to great content – create appropriate and appealing content for the target audience and let social media do the rest – genius!


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