5 Tips Digital Marketers Can Take Away From KONY2012 Campaign

Unless you were asleep through the week of March 5th, 2012, you really could not have missed the campaign by Invisible Children that took the Internet by storm: KONY2012. Invisible Children is a non-profit organization, with the mandate to use “film, creativity, and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) affected communities in Central Africa to peace and prosperity.” The organization launched a 29 minute video and social action campaign that went viral, in an effort to make Joseph Kony famous to the world. And they did just that. Although, the organization has been under critical scrutiny over the period of the campaign and has been questioned for their motives, and use of funds, one thing that no one can argue is that they did successfully launch the most viral video campaign in the history of the Internet, according to Visible Measures. The video has generated over 100 million views on YouTube and Vimeo, and has been cited in over 6,200 blog posts.

There has been a long debate about whether there is a formula for viral campaigns, with most “experts” stating a viral video needs to be under 2 minutes and comedy based. However, the KONY2012 video was approximately half an hour, and definitely not funny. So why was it that this video captured the hearts, minds, and time of 100 million people? Here are 5 tips we as digital marketers can take away from the KONY2012 viral campaign:

  1. Create content that evokes emotion. Whether that is laughing or crying, content that generates an emotional response from the viewer is more likely to be shared. In this film, most people were moved to tears by Jacob, a Ugandan boy who’s brother was killed and captured by the LRA.
  2. Make it personal. Content that is personal creates a human connection that most people can relate to. The filmmaker used his son.
  3. Create urgency. A timely call of action creates urgency to share. This film expires December 31, 2012.
  4. Be simple. Although this campaign was highly criticized by its simplistic approach of a rather complex situation, it may be one reason why the video resonated with so many people across the world. Simple messaging is easier to digest across many cultures, and languages.
  5. Use celebrities. We have seen time and time again that celebrity endorsements work. This is no easy task; however, it goes to prove that if celebrities endorse your message online and share it with their millions of followers then it is more likely for your video/campaign to become a trending topic.

If you haven’t seen the video, click here. We would love to hear your thoughts!

Maryam Mehrtash