Demonstrating the power of social media, a 29-minute video produced by a San Diego organization called Invisible Children on a once-little-known Joseph Kony has gone viral overnight with more than 50 million views worldwide on YouTube and Vimeo.
The group’s goal is to make the guerrilla group leader from Uganda “famous” to heighten worldwide awareness of his brutality. The viral video’s director, Jason Russell, tell his young son: “We are going to stop him.”
He continues in the narration, “And the fight has led me here to the movie you’re watching … and this year, 2012, is the year that we can finally fulfill it, and if we succeed, we change the course of human history.”
I’ve never seen a video explode onto the global scene, crowding my Twitter stream and Facebook post like this one.
The video continues to generate jaw-dropping attention despite the news media’s criticism of the video being overly simplistic on a complicated the 26-year conflict in Central Africa where approximately 66,000 young boys were kidnapped and forced to become members of Kony’s the Lord’s Resistance Army to fight and kill. The video also names Kony as being responsible for young girls being used as sex slaves.
Though the International Criminal Court has indicted Kony in 2005 for war crimes, he has evaded capture and is likely hiding out in the jungles of Uganda or Congo, where some 100 American military officers are working local authorities to help bring the warlord to justice.
I’ve shared the power of social media to mobilize people for a common struggle in numerous posts on the uprisings in Iran, Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Will this one make a difference? It already has. Since Monday’s posting of the video on YouTube and Tuesday’s Twitter push with celebrities and journalists and Facebook posts that have generated 2.6 million “likes,” the nonprofit has succeed where no other brand or celebrity has gone in just a few days — created a dizzying amount of buzz with worldwide attention from mostly young people aimed at putting political pressure to capture Kony.
How did this nonprofit succeed so wildly?
To launch the campaign, it used social media instead of the traditional news media. The video itself outlines the social media strategy — tweet messages to 20 “culturemakers” and 12 “policymakers” with influential Twitter accounts urging them to join the effort.
The Twitter targets included: 20 celebrities such as George Clooney, Jay Z, Ryan Seacrest, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Mark Zuckerberg and Lady Gaga and 12 policy influencers such as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former President George W. Bush.
Tweets that members of the Twitter community could share with their followers included a hashtag, #Kony2012, making the movement the cause celebre to help galvanize an army of warriors for peace.
And April 20 will likely be the next social media firestorm for Invisible Children as millions of people may be engaged in campaign to put Kony 2012 posters overnight across America.
Let me know what you think. Will this movement gain even more momentum? Do you think the nonprofit will succeed in delivering justice and peace? If social media were around in the mid-1970s, do you think the world would have prevented Pol Pot from the killings of more than 2 million Cambodians?