The San Diego-based nonprofit organization Invisible Children uploaded the above video to YouTube on Monday. By late Tuesday night, it had been viewed just over 165, times. Now, some 15 hours later, it is swiftly approaching 11 million views. A 3-minute video, gone wildly viral thanks to modern social media.
So, what is it about?
Kony 2012 is the latest of a number of video marketing campaigns launched over the last decade by Invisible Children, a nonpartisan group looking to bring to light the atrocities carried out by Joseph Kony. Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a militarized group in Central Africa known for kidnapping children throughout Uganda, turning the boys into child soldiers and the girls into sex slaves.
The idea behind Kony 2012 is to make Kony so famous that he is caught and brought to justice by the end of the year 2012. On April 2th, the Kony 2012 initiative is to cover streets, sidewalks and sides of buildings around the world with Joseph Kony’s visage and name, so that awareness is raised to a point so high that Kony can just no longer be ignored by the public or the world’s policy makers.
Talk about effective marketing. It’s not often that a 3-minute video will succeed in having so much impact over such a short span of time.
Kony 2012 is powerful. It is also persuasive. But before you retweet or share this video on Facebook, and before you support them with your donations, Social Media Chimps would like to welcome you to read up a bit more on Invisible Children and their decade-long campaign to stop Joseph Kony.
Our readers might want to begin with Visible Children, a Tumblr page dedicated to fleshing out the story behind Invisible Children. On this site, Grant Oyston plays devil’s advocate regarding some of the not-for-profit’s monetary allocations, questions their approach in arming and training the Ugandan army and links to a Foreign Affairs article that questions the methods of groups like Invisible Children in achieving their goals.
Second, readers may want to take a look at the nonprofit’s ratings at Charity Navigator. Invisible Children today has an overall score of 51.52 (or 3 stars out of 4), with an accountability and transparency score drastically lower than their financial rating.
As it turns out, Invisible Children has been working hard in recent months to improve this rating, which was as low as 44.42 (two stars) in September of 2011.
Social Media Chimps has been trying to contact Invisible Children for comment on this score, but their lines have been understandably tied up all day, and their voicemail full.
One might argue that it is the nature of Invisible Children’s work that makes it difficult to maintain a commendable score on Charity Navigator. However, when compared to organizations performing similar work, Invisible Children still falls short.
Finally, let’s take a look at the compensation set aside for the CEO and cofounders.
Social Media Chimps is neither promoting nor condemning Invisible Children. We simply feel that, with such a powerful video, and such an intensely effective marketing campaign, Invisible Children and Kony 2012 should be welcome to rigorous scrutiny. As always, we welcome our readers to weigh in with their opinions.