In this paper, I would like to discuss the elements that made the KONY 2012 the most viral video in the history, with over 76 million views in one week. I will also discuss how social media has played a significant role in this campaign and the elements that promoted the engagement of young people worldwide.
With 76 million viewers in one week, the Kony 2012 campaign designed by Invisible Children has caused a movement. While millions of people have collaborated so far with this initiative by buying 500,00 “Action Kits” and/or sharing this video through their social media, others have criticized it affirming that campaigns like these give young people a false sense of accomplishment and discourage real engagement in social issues (Ojalvo, 2012). But what made this campaign so attractive for 76 million viewers? What made them click?
“if you want to get and hold someone’s attention, tell a story” (Weinschenk, 2009, p. 112). According to the website, “Invisible Children uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in Central Africa to peace and prosperity.” To achieve this mission they are trying to:
1.Make the world aware of the LRA. This includes making documentary films and touring them around the world so that they are seen for free by millions of people, 2.Channel energy from viewers of IC films into large-scale advocacy campaigns to stop the LRA and protect civilians, and 3.Operate programs on the ground in LRA-affected areas that provides protection, rehabilitation and development assistance (Invisible Children, n.d.).
Invisible Children began his “National Tour” campaign in 2005, with 29 college-age students who traveled throughout US, to raise awareness in local schools and communities. However, it was from a video launched a week ago that this organization became popular worldwide. According to Mr. Keesey, “[The video] is connected to a really deep, thoughtful very intentional and strategic campaign. The purpose of the web campaign was to introduce new people to the terror inflicted by LRA. Those people could then take their awareness to their political leader” (Invisible Children, 2012). The inspiring current of cyber idealism among the under-25’s is a phenomenon that Cohen (2012) describes a one that has triggered a quite unique social validation movement.
Accorrding to Haslam, McGarty, & Turner (1996), people are more likely to be persuaded and positively influenced by others with whom they recognize a shared identity. With the help of Facebook and Twitter, Jason Russell’s video has become the most viral video in history, and succeeded in promoting (as it is explained on the webpage) the involvement of celebrities like Angeline Jolie, Ben Affleck, and Ellen DeGeneres. Angeline Jolie, who has been named a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations said during an event to mark International Women’s Day “ I don’t know anyone who does not hate Kony” (Child, 2012). Ben Affleck also commented on the website of his humanitarian organization Eastern Congo Initiative, “Joseph Kony must be caught. His lieutenants must be brought to justice and the LRA abductees still in the bush – fighting against their will - must be rescued and rehabilitated”. Ellen DeGeneres, who has over 4.5 million twitter followers, has also made a comment about the KONY 2012 saying, “I am talking about it, I hope you are too”. Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Oprah have also made comments supporting this cause and engaging his fans to “retweet” this video. What this campaign has caused is what Gentile et al (2009) defined as “beneficial” behavior, for being associated with generally kind, altruistic individuals. In the website, the program Schools for Schools talks about how US schools compete against each other, to see which one gathered more money to help build schools in...