Some of you may have seen the latest viral video making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. It targets Ugandan rebel leader, Joseph Kony, and aims to use social media as a means to capture and try him as a war criminal in the International Criminal Court.
Invisible Children caters to our national instinct to form impressions based on an emotional response. Whether you agree with the discourse on the subject matter, there is little controversy over the effectiveness of the video as a marketing tool, as evidenced by the fact that the video has garnered millions of views in the span of days.
I think the real question is how this will change nonprofit’s tools in the social media realm. As the hashtag, #Kony2012 continues to trend and bring awareness to an issue many Americans have never heard about, how will this change our dialogue?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of nonprofit and governmental agencies of all sizes and scope focusing their time and resources on Africa, and in particular, Uganda. These agencies provide services ranging from housing, food security, education, to entrepreneurship. Their missions vary but their common goal is to provide resources that will help Ugandans become independent, as well as, economically and socially sustainable.
IC’s Kony2012 video simplifies a complex issue and creates a straightforward call to action for the organization’s youthful constituency to make an impact the best way they know how; through small donations and purchases of bumper stickers and bracelets. My question is, what can other nonprofits learn from this social media success? (Regardless of your opinion of IC and Kony, 70 million YouTube hits and a public dialogue on the subject is a success in my book.)
It’s evident a social media revolution has arrived; its beginnings were embedded in the Arab Spring and slowly took root in the Occupy movement. Now is the time for nonprofits to enter this revolution and carve out a voice and implement a call to action within their own constituencies.
In my work with nonprofits we have had numerous and ongoing conversations since the Kony2012 viral sensation opened up a new dialogue and started to ask the tough questions of how they will use this opportunity to carve their own niche in a rapidly changing and media driven society.
I anticipate that this will be the kickstart that nonprofits need to create a new era of community and donor engagement. However, only time will tell.