#Kony2012: 4 Reasons for its Trend-Setting Social Media Success

Kony 2012

Unless you’ve been living as a social media hermit, you’ve heard of the Kony 2012 movement.

The 30-minute documentary that started it all focuses on exposing the inhumane crimes of Joseph Kony, the leader of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), who kidnaps children to build an army of child soldiers and sex slaves. Its makers – the non-profit organization Invisible Children – intended to use the video to build awareness to public and policymakers.

And did they ever.

Talk about a social media success story! In only its first 5 days, the Kony 2012 campaign racked up 18,600 Twitter followers, 6 million Facebook video embeds, and almost 50 million YouTube views.

So how did they do it?

Stellar Video Content

With the recommended length of a viral YouTube video sitting between 2 and 3 minutes, how did this 30 minute video capture such widespread attention? Sitting today at close to 90 million views, the Kony 2012 video has:

  • professional quality
  • strong personal and emotional connections
  • a simple, easy-to-follow narrative
  • a clear and detailed call-to-action

Engagement of Celebrities

Kony saw a big numbers bump soon after posting the original video. The cause? Celebrities got on-board and began tweeting and posting to their considerable audience. Did the Kony 2012 creators see this coming? Absolutely.





Check out their trend-setting video around minute twenty-three. The involvement of celebrities was deliberate and crucial. Your business may not appeal to the glitzy denizens of Hollywood or Washington, but it might be a shrewd idea to browse your own sphere’s celebs and policy makers who might be interested in sharing your latest and greatest with their fans. 



Know your Audience

Studies found that the linchpin of the Kony 2012 campaign’s overwhelming success and popularity took root in 18 to 29-year-olds, who shared the video on Facebook and Twitter. Similarly, the video was most popular with the Millennial Generation – 13 to 17-year-olds – who respond positively to activist projects.


When you watch the video, pay attention to the age of the protesters.


Excellent Strategic Planning

From releasing centralized hashtags (#kony2012 and #stopkony) to the clear calls-to-action spread through their video and website, Invisible Children and the Stop Kony movement stuck to a clear plan of execution. Organizers took the time to become experts on the 2-3 social media platforms selected, and followed up the video’s release with regular updates, engagement and their website’s easy-to-follow steps for joining their movement. Have you sat down to make a strategic marketing plan for your company’s social media goals?

Curious to find out more? Check out the video that started it all – Stop Kony 2012 – then follow the ripples through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more!

Interested in getting involved with the movement? Come out this Friday April 20th to the global event Cover the Night. Check out local social media groups and events for details:

Hope to see you there!

The diverse experience Sue Sutcliffe has gained as one of Canada’s digital marketing pioneers, will help your business or brand dominate the digital.
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