Category Archives: Social Media

Why KONY 2012 Makes a Great Case Study

Imagine you watch a 30 minute video on YouTube and you suddenly become a social activist.

Well, you don’t have to imagine it. This is what happened to millions of people across the globe in less than two weeks.

With one simple click of the mouse, users were introduced and became aware of a story occurring somewhere far off in Africa, about a war lord turning thousands of children into military zombies.

Here’s why this campaign makes for an interesting case study.

A few days after I shared the Invisible Children‘s KONY 2012 video on Facebook and tweeted the news on Twitter, I received an e-mail from Amnesty International (who I subscribed to). The e-mail started off telling me about how although this is the first time the world has heard about Joseph Kony, Amnesty has known about him for years – they just did not have the tools or know-how on how to execute the celebrity attention is he receiving now.

The KONY 2012 video that went viral reached over 80 million hits on YouTube in two weeks time. The utilization of celebrity appeal, charity, a 30-minute film and the power of social media have transformed online engagement to political activism (see below).

How the hell did this happen?!

For one, it’s a great conversation starter; the sheer curiosity factor fuelled massive discussion (we’re talking global here). Some 30-minute video was circling the web about a war lord in Africa and it was a big deal. People would ask, “But who is this guy?” and “Have you seen this?” and share videos with their friends.

This simple curiosity turned into a willingness to not just educate, but investigate what was happening. Who is Joseph Kony? What is he doing and where is he? Why are people talking about him? What is Invisible Children? How are people talking about Kony and the cause? Who is he effecting? When do we act? Can we act? Is he relevant to me, and now? (Covered the five Ws? Check).

And it sure as hell helped to get celebrities involved in the social media realm, tweeting and re-tweeting their concerns and support over the KONY 2012 video. Oh, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are supporting the Invisible Children cause? This is even more share-worthy.

Moreover, The Uganda Speaks campaign first tweeted by Al Jazeera English last Tuesday,is asking people in Uganda to tweet their opinions about Kony 2012. One interesting respondent tweeted, “There is a total disconnect between the invisible children and the community they claim to serve. Why make Kony famous? You cannot make a wrong person famous. Stop Kony, then what?” Exactly. Then what?

If the goal of Invisible Children was to raise awareness about the issue, then the campaign was a success. Not only did they receive positive feedback and support from millions, the charity also received backlash about having ulterior motives and unfair fiscal distribution. But as my graduate professor once said, “As long as they’re talking about you, you’ve got a fighting chance.”

However, if the goal is to arrest KONY by converting a quarter of the globe into Invisible Children’s own army-to-the-rescue and overthrow the political system, then they’ve got a lot of work to do. As Malcolm Gladwell argues, “Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.”

From the launch of the video on March 5th, forward to almost a month later, over 100 million people have now seen the short film. Awareness about Kony and the LRA has increased tenfold and people have shared their thoughts and opinions about it.

All that is left now, is action. It’s great to have an idea, but it doesn’t mean much if there are no plans to execute. As  Madeline Bernstein of Technorati writes, “Knowing is better than not knowing, but clicking is not action.”

And in case you either haven’t seen the video through some social network or haven’t heard people talking about, first I’d like to know where on Earth are you. I’m kidding. But seriously.

Secondly, if you’re interested in watching the 30 minute long video, you can watch it below:

Photo credit: http://www.theatlantic.com

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Made For Social

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Made for Social

What makes a campaign or an advertisement social? What is it about social that is so shareable?

These thought-provoking questions came up during a conversation I had with Proximity‘s Social Media Strategist, David Jones. He gave me a good idea to write a post on this subject, and so here I am, sitting in front of my computer screen and scratching my head. What makes things social and thus shareable?

So I drew out a mind map and came up with one of the many options of what social media is:

From looking at just this one mind map, a lot of factors play into making something social. One could suggest the following process (among others):

1. The content viewed, listened to or read moves people in an emotional way and makes it relevant, impressionable and creative to them.

2. One person feels the need to connect with others (who perhaps have similar tastes or are curious about their reactions) and thus shares with them or collaborates on user-generated content with others.

3. Content it distributed throughout the media landscape.

4. The content is eventually viewed by others and becomes, in some instances, an element of pop culture – so much so that it is enough to share with hundreds, thousands or millions more.

Let’s take a look at Volkswagen‘s “The Dog Strikes Back” commercial aired during the Superbowl, for example. You know, that beautiful dog that sees himself as overweight and subjects himself to an intense workout routine and diet to be able to run alongside the car?

This commercial has received 9,899,009 YouTube hits from that one link so far. One reason could be that we love the determination we see in the animal and connect some similarities to our own human behaviour (what science calls anthropomorphism).

But the more obvious reason is the ending, where Volkswagen takes us back to last year’s memories of the Darth Vader kid thinking he has superpowers.

The commercial makes a pun on what is essentially an inside-joke to those who saw the “prequel” – a conversation held between a few ‘people’ in a bar who argue that the dog is “funnier than the Darth Vader kid” (who later feels the wrath of Darth Vader for making that comment).

Not only was the original commercial a cute and memorable idea to connect the kid with the car, but the commercial became so lovable, so shareable, that YouTube hits have reached 50,836,938 to date. Even more, Volkswagen even created a teaser for the anticipation of the sequel release!

Volkswagen essentially made their way into pop culture through its viral-worthy content and treated their audience as movie-goers. Viewers enjoyed the content as perhaps humorous, cute, smart and real to some (as several parents may have connected on the same idea that their children pretend to have powers too… and sometimes let them think that they actually do).

Thus I think human connection, a real one, is at the root of what is social and what is shareable. Connection and the desire to seek out others who have similar tastes and needs (a term some sociologists would label as homophily) is one factors that drives virality.

As humans, we want to feel like we are in this – life – together, that we are not alone. This may even go back to centuries ago where we were bred to believe that this connection is the key to survival – it’s human nature!

But adding procreation into the mix may be stretching the idea a little too far (ya think?). Alongside human connection and emotion as part of what makes content social and shareable, I would even like to add the concept of participaction to the mix. People no longer want to just be a recipient of the brand, but they want to feel that they are actually a part of it.

The audience sees something they like and may decide to modify, add or delete aspects of a social concept to call it their own and share it with their friends (i.e. crowd-sourcing and mash-ups from user-generated content). They become the brand itself, or at least an extension of it.

Sometimes we want to be the first ones to say “I saw this first!” or “hey check out what I did to that viral hamster on a piano video!” Thus a sense of belonging and recognition builds makes its way into the picture.

There are several factors that play a part in making content sociable and shareble, including the ones just mentioned. Whether it’s something that tugs at our heart strings or want to simply belong to a project that is greater than ourselves, we want to be an active participant in creating that connection.

Whichever reason, just make sure not to mention that the dog being funnier than the Vader kid…

What do you think makes a campaign or ad social and shareable? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Facebook Canada on Branding

Jordan Banks, Managing Director of Facebook Canada, joined AdWeek’s opening lunch session and presented the company’s findings on the rise and popularity of the social networking site.

Banks attributes part of Facebook’s success to the idea of discovery through word-of-mouth; users spend 8 hours per month on the site (YouTube users, in comparison, spend 5 hrs per month). On top of that, a staggering 800 million people are accessing Facebook every month. YEAH.

On average, Facebook users in the U.S. have 130 friends, whereas in Canada the average number of friends is 225. Although this number may seem small to other users who have over 1,000, the recommendation (and tagging) culture that has evolved from word-of-mouth have fuelled not only Facebook’s popularity, but the ‘likability’ of brands, products and services on the social network.

Additionally, Banks notes that brands play a huge role here and understands that Facebook, essentially, is social by design where people are at the core. He argues that advertisers must “fish where the fish are” in the social graph and become leaders to these large social groupings (similar to Godin’s idea of “tribes”).

According to Banks, building a brand on Facebook requires:

1. Connection: users must be able to connect though posts, videos, comments, likes and becoming fans of brand pages.

2. Engagement: advertisers/marketers must feed Facebook users with relevant information. This is often done with targeted ads.

3. Inspiration: loyal customers can transform into brand evangelists simple through platform integrations and sponsored stories.

From a recent Nielson study, 68% of Facebook users are more likely to remember something within a social context. Such users claim that they are not just recipients of a brand, but feel a part of a brand’s story (hence why event marketing is such a successful endeavour).

The importance of building a brand online is taking advantage of the media landscape and providing tools to the audience that they already know how to use. Humans need to feel that they have agency with media, thus marketers need to teach them how to understand it and motivate them to to use it.

Banks finishes with four takeaways of the future of social advertising:

1. There has been a shift from the information web to the social web.

2. Innovation has been immensely impacted by the social graph.

3. The social web has change and influenced the way people have relationships.

4. There is no better time than the present to capitalize on this social movement.

So what are you waiting for?

Photo credit: http://myportableworld.com

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