In today’s age of 140-character message limits and ever-shortening attention spans, a 30-minute video that manages to go viral cannot be ignored. There is something in that video worth paying attention to.
And my suspicion is there are many things about the video that are contributing to its attention-grabbing success.
The nearly overnight sensation of the Kony 2012 movement led by nonprofit organization, Invisible Children (working since 2004 to help end the violence in Uganda, especially in regard to child soldiers and slaves), surely makes it the newest wide-scale social media movement since the Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle. And as such, I’m eager to add it to my pool of research and watch it as it unfolds, dissecting the elements that contribute to its collaborative success.
A few things make it unique and add interest to me:
1. It’s already being met with controversy. The Washington Post published a photo and interview meant to cast suspicion on the motives of the founders of Invisible Children.
Not only that, but IC has responded swiftly, doing its best to clarify the points of controversy.
2. The campaign is like nothing I have ever seen before. It is uniquely internet- and social media-based, but with the ultimate intent of getting people out into the real/physical world. It includes calls to action, physical goods, direct asks, celebrities, politicians, a cohesive look graphically, some sort of mapping technology, etc. etc. Invisible Children has pulled out all the stops. What is it about these or certain combinations of these that make the campaign work?
3. It’s 30 minutes long! So much can go wrong in a video to lose your attention on the web in 30 minutes. But millions, MILLIONS of people are watching this. I wasn’t sure such a phenomenon was even still possible.
4. The campaign may be met with resistance, but to me is already a huge success simply because it’s bold enough to force people to pay attention. To the point where, even if Invisible Children has it all wrong and has entirely evil motives, they have forced the traditional media to dig up the real story.
And that is perhaps the most moving part of the campaign.
I cannot wait to watch this unfold. My idealistic hope is that it teaches us all about how to use social media and new technologies to create change in the best ways possible. And that we will continue to be critical each time a new movement begins. We are not being brainwashed by this video, we are holding the makers accountable to give us the clearest possible truth—and that is a beautiful thing for a democratic nation.