“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”.