How a Nonprofit Launched the Most Viral Campaign Ever [CHART]

by Michelle McGinnis on Sunday, March 18, 2012 in Marketing Measurement

If you did not know who Joseph Kony was one week ago, I am guessing that over the last 10 days, many of you now think you may have heard too much. Visible Measures’s chart above has shown that Kony 2012 not only far outstrips “Old Spice Guy” and “Evian Rollerblading babies” as the most viral brand/cause advertising campaign, but it is in fact the most speedily viral of any videos surpassing Susan Boyle and reaching 100 M views in just 6 days!

And here is the other astounding fact: the video is 30 minutes long.  When was the last time you watched a 30 minute long YouTube video?nonprofit-marketing

So - how did they do it?

They were prepared: check out Socialflow analysis showing how the campaign was seeded by geographically co-located youth networks on Twitter who were seeding the hashtag before the video was even released.  They were even pretty well prepared in responding to the backlash.

They understood the power of influence.  Scroll down on the Kony 2012 website and note how they offered pre-calibrated tweets to the most influential culture and policy makers on Twitter.

The content is as compelling as it gets.  This is really the key. They used urgency, sympathy, and a clear objective to tell a story that renders the viewer unable to resist their minimal call to action.  Yes, it is over-simplistic, but it was effective for what they wanted to achieve.

Although there have been questions about Invisible Children's strategy, affiliations, and financial management, there appear to be two things that nobody is questioning:  that Joseph Kony is a criminal that should face justice, and the unprecedented success of Invisible Children’s viral campaign dedicated to achieving that goal, by any marketing metrics: total reach, conversion (action kits sold out weeks early), and brand/cause awareness - even through controversy.

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