What businesses can learn from KONY 2012

I wrote a few weeks ago about why I believed the call to action by advocacy group Invisible Children in their KONY2012 campaign was wrong. I also tweeted last week that the relatively muted response to its #PaintTheNight day of action further validated my view.

The point I made in my earlier post was that it didn’t matter how many people saw the KONY2012 video – unless the call to action was right, there was little chance of achieving the stated objectives. We can argue about the specifics, but given more than 100m people have watched the video, a relatively small percentage of that number actually participated in Invisible Children’s ‘Paint The Night’ guerrilla campaign on April 20th.

The purpose, at least my understanding of it, of making Joseph Kony famous was to force Governments and NGOs to do something to stop his alleged rein of terror in Uganda. Painting the night was unlikely to achieve this. I’d contend that making anybody famous – whether it’s Joseph Kony or a local business – on its own will not achieve anything.

So, what can businesses learn from this?

  • Having a video go viral may is great for brand awareness. It won’t, in itself, ensure that people take action or help you achieve your business objectives.
  • Understand what you want viewers to do having viewed your video. The best non-brand viral videos motivate viewers to take action.
  • Ensure that the call to action in your video [if there is one] supports the attainment of your commercial objectives.
  • Continually review and revise objectives and campaign elements to ensure that they support the achievement of your objectives.

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