I’m guessing that most of you have seen the Kony 2012 film which was uploaded last Monday on YouTube by the non-profit group Invisible Children? If not, chances are that you have seen the video link shared amongst your Facebook friends and the hashtag #Stopkony trending on Twitter like wildfire.
The video has caused an explosion of online interest and has become an almost instant viral success with over 70 million views within the first week of it’s release, making it one of the fastest ever take-offs on YouTube. The aim of the campaign is to make Joseph Kony, leader of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), “famous” by harnessing the power of the internet to raise awareness and bring this indicted war criminal to justice. The short film is a fairly slick production which has been produced by Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children, whose mission is to stop LRA violence and support the war affected communities in Central Africa.
Despite the mounting criticism over Invisible Children’s finances and accusations towards their intentions as a charity, the main aim of the campaign in my opinion has been achieved, which is to simply communicate with a wide scale audience (us) and gain global exposure. The campaign has triggered an enormous amount of video responses and has encouraged research into the LRA and the political issues in Central Africa, which in turn has educated a large majority of people. This form of interaction is particularly important with viral campaigns as it encourages viewers to not only watch and share the video, but to research the content before advocating the video or brand and participating in online discussion.
The underlying problems concerning the LRA are long standing and highly complex and will not be resolved purely by a social media campaign, but the power of viral marketing has certainly proved to be successful in gaining awareness and coverage of the Kony 2012 campaign, be it positive or negative. The objective of any viral campaign is to reach as many people as possible and this campaign clearly illustrates what can be achieved.