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Posted by NicolaHaw
NicolaHaw
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on Monday, 23 April 2012
in Digital Blogs

“Yes we Kony”

 

What do you get when you cross African-Osama Bin Laden, a gut-wrenching a story about deepest darkest Africa and a whole lot of free T-shirts?

The most viral video in history, of course.

204 Countries, 3590 051 pledges and over 104 506 332 YouTube views. The Kony 2012 Campaign was a massive slap in the face(book), to all those who underestimated the power of social media and networks.

Kony 2012 video is created by modern day Robin Hood, Jason Russell and his Merrie Men, non-governmental organization named The Invisible Children. It describes bad-guy, Jospeh Kony, leader of The Lord’s Resistance Army, as stealing children from their homes in Uganda and forcing them to be child soldiers.

Russell’s master plan is to save this sad state of affairs by getting rich people all over the world to sign a petition. This petition asks for the arrest of Kony by December 2012 and aims to deliver him to the International Criminal Court to make him pay for his hideous crimes against humanity. All very dramatic.

The Kony 2012 campaign did not escape without its own fair share of warfare. Russell was criticized for over-simplifying the issues involved, having ulterior financial motives and for various inaccuracies in the video. Parodies of the video sprang up like popcorn over a blowtorch.

Self-proclaimed Ugandan experts, usually American citizens with obscure connections to Uganda, also joined in the fight with their bow and arrows. They condemned Russell, and his green tights, for having no idea of the complexity of the situation in Uganda.

The controversy relating to the video’s accuracy, however, is hardly the most interesting part of the whole shenanigan. In his rap parody of the Kony 2012 video, Robert Foster says, “The video’s done more than we ever envisioned. In 27 minutes, without cat’s or titties”.

 It certainly has.

Previously it was recorded that it would take an internet video three to six months to reach 50 million views. However with the current boom of social networks and media this figure is now relatively stone-age.

The Pew Research Centre recorded that there were 5 million tweets about the video, within the space of a week after it was posted. The number of views of the video increased by 13536 views after Oprah mentioned the video in a tweet.

In addition over 58% of people, in the US, between the ages of 18 and 29 said that they had heard about the video. Over two thirds of these people heard about it through their online social networks.

The above statistics clearly show how the impact of social media and networking made a situation in Uganda that has been an on-going issue for over 20 years, famous overnight. With the simple click of the “Share” or “Tweet” button, an idea, a concept or an image can bear-hug the world in a number of minutes.  

Kony 2012 does not just show the potential of social networking to get everybody running through the forest after Robin Hood, but also a willingness of just about everyone, to engage in a cause bigger than themselves.

So what does it all mean?

In simple terms it means that advertisers, marketers and journalists need to start paying attention. If social media has such potential to convey messages to people, how do we rationalize continuing to treat it as the weird new kid at the back of the class? Shouldn’t we be milking it for everything it’s worth?

I believe the answer is, yes. Yes we should and “Yes we Kony”.

 

Comments

Shiraz
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Shiraz Monday, 23 April 2012

Yes we Kony!

yes - Kony video went viral superfast, like the Arab uprisings.
businesses better climb on board now. those who do will benefit from social platforms, those who don't will be lost in the common clutter.

Charmed
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Charmed Monday, 23 April 2012

Welcome

Hi Nicola. Welcome to My Digital Life! If you have a Twitter handle, please let us know so when we tweet your stuff we can tag you? You can find us on @MyDigitalLifeSA.

Cheers
Charmed

Jude
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Jude Monday, 23 April 2012

Going viral

Are you suggesting that given the viral nature of a single video (as problematic) as it was is a reason for marketers, advertisers and media to take notice of social media? I don't doubt that they should to various degrees, but a closer reading of Kony will show that not every campaign will ever have the mix of factors that made the campaign a global hit. Notwithstanding, the consequences of instant global fame turned the campaign into a meme that similarly subjected the Kony Campaign to massive criticism and vilification. How do you think brands would fare in a social media battle over the meaning of a product or campaign?

NicolaHaw
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NicolaHaw Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Response

Shiraz, thank you for your comment and I completely agree. These social platforms hold so much potential and if used correctly, can assist businesses immensely in the years to come.

Jude, thank you very much for your opinions and I feel like you raised some very interesting points that I may have neglected to mention in the post.

I fully agree that there were many other factors, other than social media that influenced the spread of the Kony 2012 video. The fact that the video was very emotionally laden and in my opinion was also well-made definitely accelerated the video’s spread. In addition the controversy surrounding the video, as well as the rumoured public break down of creator Jason Russell also contributed to the hype.

Not every online video will have these qualities and not every online video will go viral. What I am highlighting is the way that social media accelerated this particular campaign. The Kony 2012 video already had huge potential to go viral, yet social media acted as the vehicle through which this viral nature was made a reality. Even though it had all of the above listed qualities, it could not have spread so fast if not for social media.

Such global visibility, facilitated by social media, will definitely open products and campaigns to advanced forms of scrutiny. However I don’t feel this is always such a bad thing. For example in the case of Kony 2012, although the video received so much criticism, it facilitated conversation about issues in Africa which otherwise may have not been discussed. Whether people were saying bad things or good things, the fact of the matter is that they were still talking.

The negative reactions relating to the campaign in addition just heightened the campaigns global visibility. As they say, “no press is bad press” and the “bad press” relating to Kony 2012, just kept people talking more and for longer about the campaign.

I do think however, that if companies and campaigns choose to use social media to spread their products and ideas that they should be prepared for the negative responses as well. Perhaps an idea for a future post is addressing issues relating to how companies can look to manage negative social media reactions in order to minimise negative public opinion of their product or campaign.

Shiraz
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Shiraz Thursday, 26 April 2012

its social as usual!

yes NicolaHaw. I believe people buy into the person selling the product first before becoming patriotic to a brand. so all businesses should have a social interface for consumers to connect to. the lack of a social profile indicates disinterest in the consumer.............. back to work.......its social as usual!

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