Arment Dietrich

The KONY Video: What Worked and What Didn’t Work

By: Arment Dietrich | March 21, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Molli Megasko.

The “capture Kony” message has been all over Facebook. It’s been dissected by the media. Everyone is praising the video gone viral.

If, for some reason, you’ve been in outer space or under a big rock these past weeks, you can watch the video here.

I wanted to write this post not to talk about how great it is that a 30-minute YouTube video has had something like 75 million views in just one week but rather, how it achieved that number and what went wrong.

Why the Video Worked

  • Celebrity endorsement. When the video was first posted, the group pushed to get just 66,000 views. When Oprah was contacted, her tweet turned into a rain fall and in less than 24 hours, the views skyrocketed to 9.6 million.
  • Good message. How do you get millions and millions of people to watch a 60-second clip, let alone a 30-minute video?  By adding a human element. I don’t know about you but when that little boy was learning about the good guy and the bad guy, it really touched me. The message itself is sad but shies away from the “In the Arms of an Angel” animal rescue feel.
  • Strong calls-to-action. Most social media awareness campaigns are only looking for “likes” as a call-to-action. This video gave a few options for people to feel like they contributed.
  • Sense of urgency. People respond to deadlines. When you give someone a date to not only to do something but an end date that marks success, people look forward to the outcome.

Why the Video Didn’t Work

  • Lack of facts. The team behind the video apparently did not fact check. The reports on the whereabouts of Kony and the size of his army is not accurate. If you plan to put something on the Internet you want shared, make sure your facts are double- and triple-checked (especially if you’re pointing fingers at let’s say… the government).
  • Unclear cause. Inevitably, the video might end up making Invisible Children more famous than Kony himself. And even if the world knows the Kony name, what good is it if he is still out there?  I suggest having a targeted website, not Invisible Children.com, as well as a separate Facebook page for the cause.
  • Wrong call-to-action. I know I mention the call-to-action above as a success, but it was the wrong action. Posting a video on your Facebook wall and hanging up a poster doesn’t mean you contributed to the cause. The Huffington Post calls it a “hollow kind of activism.”
  • Where’s the money?  According to the group, “only 32 percent of the $8.6 million it raised last year [went] toward direct services.”  When asking for donations or having an e-commerce for a cause, it’s important to either direct the funds to another channel or be up-front about where the money is going.

In terms of awareness was this a success? Of course.

But like Sarah Palin learned in the Game Change HBO film, with awareness comes scrutiny.

Before you go off and try to make the next KONY 2012 film, make sure you put as much effort into your cause as you do your video or you might end up in your birthday suit “running back and forth on a street corner and yelling incoherently about the devil.”

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