The Propagation of Kony 2012 ■ Kony 2012 was the most viral video ever—meaning that it traveled around the web faster than any video before it. ■ The video is a call-to-action to make African warlord Joseph Kony a household name in the U.S, and by doing so, urge politicians to lead an effort to locate and stop him. ■ In just 6 days, the video earned 100 million viewers, and $30 million for the non- proﬁt behind it, Invisible Children. ■ This week’s Sunnyside Up takes a look at exactly how the video spread so quickly throughout the web.
■ Invisible Children is a San Diego non-proﬁt founded by ﬁlmmaker Jason Russell. It employees 43 people—most of whom are in the early 30s—and counts hundreds of young people—including many college students—as volunteers.■ Since 2004, the organization has focused most of its efforts on creating and distributing video content about its humanitarian causes in Africa.■ Invisible Children builds its base of young people through “transmedia storytelling,” by creating multiple touch points—video, apparel like T-shirts and wrist bands, live events, and music tours—to invole its supporters.
Kony 2012 left many observers divided about its intent and its impact■ “I felt a little nauseous watching the ﬁlm. Couldn’t help but feel the director’s concern was less about addressing the needs of those affected today by the LRA and the complexities of tackling the rebel group, than as serving as a very slick promotional vehicle for his charity.” Guardian (UK) photojournalist / journalist Simon Rawles. ■ “From our perspective at Human Rights Watch, we deﬁnitely support the message of the ﬁlm and we think it’s great that they’re bringing so much attention to the ﬁlm with Kony’s crimes and the phenomena of the LRA,” Ida Sawyer, research for Human Rights Watch.■ “They call themselves “a movement” seeking to end the conﬂict in Uganda and stop the abduction of children for use as child soldiers, but behind the slick website and the touchy-feely talk about “changing the course of human history”, there’s a hard-nosed money-making operation led by US ﬁlmmakers and accountants, communication experts, lobbyists and salespeople.” Guardian (UK) journalist John Vidal ■ “I think this is a profoundly disturbing serious issue that needs to be brought to the attention of the world. And if it’s slightly off in a fact or two that’s a very very minor criticism” Paul Levinson, NYU Professor
The spread of Kony 2012 started with a single tweet on March 5.
Invisible Children knew that in order to spread the video, it had to first mobilize its base. ■ Invisible Children’s pre-existing networks initially helped to spread of the video. From analysis conducted by Socialﬂow, during the early days of the video, dense clusters of activity centered on networks of youth that Invisible Children had been cultivating across the US for years. ■ These supporters are composed both of secular youth—form high school to college—and Christian youth..■ A word cloud taken from the proﬁles of early Kony 2012 Twitter supporters gives insight into the main interests of this target group. “It is heavily supported by Christian youth, many of whom post Biblical psalms as their proﬁle bios.”■ http://blog.socialﬂow.com/post/7120244932/data-viz-kony2012-see-how-invisible-networks-helped-a-campaign-capture-the- worlds-attention
This initial effort lit small social media fires in 4-5geographic areas where Invisible Children had many supporters.
And as more Invisible Children supporters saw the video and heard about the campaign, they moved to the Kony 2012 wall of influencers (right) to urgecelebrities and other high-profile individuals to take part in the campaign.■ Ellen Degeneres (@TheEllenShow), for example, saw over 36,000 mentions from different users pleading her to respond to the cause
By March 6, 9 out of 20 celebrities from InvisibleChildren’s target list had posted the Kony 2012 video and urged their supporters to join the cause.10 million followers New Feature: Twitter video embed6.2 million followers 18.7 million followers13 million followers
By March 8, new groups of supporters like Nicholas Kristof had responded to video, and celebrities like Justin Bieber were doubling the video’s impressions by re-tweeting the link.March 8th: New influencers who effect entirely differentaudiences (take Nicholas Kristof vs. Justin Bieber)March 8th: Justin Bieber posts Kony 2012 to Twitter again(ensuring that a larger segment of his audience reads theKony 2012 message).
By March 9—4 days into the campaign—references to #StopKony had reached 9.45 million
Two competing Twitter trends—#StopKony and#Kony2012— were trending much faster than the biggest social media event of the year, South by Southwest.
By March 11, Kony 2012 had outpaced all viral videos to date with 100 million views in just 6 days.
Kony 2012 through Profero’s 1-9-90model of influence 1 : 9 : 90 THE STORYTELLERS THE ENABLERS THE MASS Jason Russell & Invisible Children +100 MM confidential 14
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