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Can Social Media Change the World? KONY 2012-03-08

First things first, there is no doubting that Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst inhabitants and that he needs to be stopped, so if you aren’t among the tens of millions of people who have done so already please do watch the KONY 2012 video and join the cause.

That said, I wanted to look at the KONY campaign from a social media and digital PR standpoint. In 2011 the citizen population of the world began to realise the power of social media as an organising tool and the media went wild. Familiar headlines about the potential pitfalls of Facebook span out of control and proposals for social media blackouts in the case of future incidents were debated.

Shortly after the riots the slightly confusing Occupy movements around the world organised and mobilised using Twitter. There was a sense that social networking was bringing people together, but for what?

This week that question has been answered with the release of the KONY campaign. A very well scripted video appeared on YouTube on March 5th. By March 8th the video had had in excess of 25 million views and #KONY was trending worldwide on Twitter.

How did the makers of the video achieve this phenomenal success? Well, undoubtedly they have a fantastic issue that touches people personally and they also have some fantastic storytelling abilities as shown in the video. However, from a Digital PR point of view, they have also ticked all the boxes for a potentially huge social media movement, the likes of which we have never seen before in this country. They’ve got their timing right, they’ve used their networks to create some initial buzz around the event, they’ve got a clear call to action and they’ve created an easy to digest campaign that allows people to show their support at the mere click of a ‘share’ button.

What the Occupy movements and other similar social gatherings show is that there is an appetite for action in the general public at the moment. The timing is also right in terms of social media – the video says there are more people on Facebook these days than there were on Earth 200 years ago. The KONY campaign could just be the first one in which the global population self-organise themselves to make a difference and maybe, just maybe, change world politics forever.

Cover image courtesy of: Ryohei Noda, flickr.com

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