Tag Archives: YouTube

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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YouTube Stardom: The Aicha Kid

It was somewhere between when social media first caught on and when it started trending when a Dutch kid by the name of “Gellieman” (also known as Jelle Buelens) came out with this song/dance routine called “Aicha.” The reserved (yet gutsy) Jelle quickly became a YouTube sensation, and five years later, I’m still singing, “So sweet, so beautiful…” Is that weird?

But I have to hand it to the kid. He’s the first Internet star that comes to mind when I think who started a wave of Ellen Degeneres-worthy Internet stardom. Then a whole other stream of kids started uploading videos online, like the Star Wars Kid (with 23,762,272 hits), the Numa Numa guy (with 43,796,883 hits), and  Keenan Cahill, who lipsyncs to covers of songs with guest star appearances (with some videos reaching over 45,000,000 views). In fact, Keenan is so popular that he can even post a video of himself eating a cookie… and have it reach over 8,000,000 views.

And Gellieman only has 1,969,461 hits. But five years later, YouTube fans are commenting on his video, asking him to make a comeback and create an “Aicha” remix. Although he didn’t receive this kind of praise when he first came out (see the hater comments for yourself), somehow we are all coming back to that one kid in 2006 that won us over with his melodramatic song and dance number.

Whether these videos are for real or not (at least three out of the four mentioned here seem to be), these kids had guts and pulled back the veil to show us a small part of themselves (and perhaps even their true nature). This may sometimes be hard to come by, what with the prevailing narcissism and false representation of the self on social networks like, say, oh I don’t know, Facebook.

We are all weird in our own ways (like I said, I’m still singing the “Aicha” song like it’s a chart topper), and sometimes it’s refreshing to see others illustrate their comfort in their own skin and really not give a damn. Either we enjoy others’ courage as a reason for the growing popularity on Internet stardom, or it might just be the fact that their content is so out there that it gives for great (and unusual) entertainment. Either way, I got to get started on my own YouTube video…

By the way… anybody notice the Mickey and Minnie Mouse bed sheets in 0:28?

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Apple’s Next [Dance] Move?

I saw this video from a Tweet that read “This Kid is Amazing.” So, me thinking of the next singer to potentially show up on the Ellen Degeneres show (and me being a big fan of Ellen in general), I followed the link on YouTube. The video titled “Apple Store Dance to Super Bass!!” pops up and this kid is boldly shaking his thang to Nicki Minaj‘s “SuperBass” in an Apple store. My first reaction went something like this: “DAMN this kid Trevor has guts! I want a music video in an Apple store!

Sure enough, I looked at the sidebar to see other people have done the same. Random Apple store visitors are entering the store, setting up the video on the in-store Mac computers and recording a dance routine, smack dab in the middle of an unsuspecting crowd… and having a good time. The videos are uploaded onto YouTube for all to see and give viewers a live entertainment from Apple. And let me tell you, it’s quite the dance party and lip-sync.

If Apple is going to be smart about this, they need to get on this in-store live-dancing trend and turn it into a campaign. I think we’ve been hit over the head enough with the idea that the customer is in control of the brand and its message. Creating a campaign based on live videos from customers will help to enhance the Apple brand through a grass roots movement with the love that is being shared in their stores.

It is definitely a move from the classic  television ads with dark silhouettes dancing to up-beat music against bright-colored backgrounds. This time the movement is coming from the customer’s creative noggin, not the advertiser’s. This viral video and WOM distribution through Apple fans is something they can capitalize on, as long as the store employees don’t kick out any of their performers… including this poor kid.

The more marketers and advertisers realize that fans control the brand and that growth comes from the love and appreciation being shared from person to person, the less work it is for them to concoct ideas that may not necessarily work for their audience. It’s not just about catering to the people and embracing user-generated content; it’s about celebrating freedom of speech and emotion through a fun-loving, carefree way through the media, not maintaining control. We need to be heard, you hear me!?

And now, for one of my personal favourites…

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