The Genius of Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 Campaign

By Public Relations, Social Media

Unless you were living under a rock last week you have seen the video or at least heard about the celebrity support of Kony 2012. Invisible Children (IC) is the name of the organization responsible for this film. By all accounts, IC hit a home run its campaign and social media strategy. The film which enjoyed 71 million views within 5 days on YouTube could have sat collecting dust for months without a solid campaign in place.

The co-founder, Jason Russell has been all over TV, radio, web and the social networks explaining their organization’s mission. IC wants to make Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), famous with the goal being that in fame comes awareness and ultimately, arrest.

Much has been said about the questionable expenditures of Invisible Children, their oversimplified explanation of the situation, and the colonial idea of Westerners swooping in to “save” Africa when the Ugandan military is already in pursuit of Kony, and Obama’s deployment of a mere 100 military advisors back in October. Nonetheless, we all know who Joseph Kony is now. He is, in effect, famous.

But how did this happen? How did this campaign explode as it did when thousands of organizations are marketing themselves every day with little fanfare. They’re on Facebook and Twitter. They have blogs and maybe even events as well as news releases and traditional advertising.

IC’s genius is in their strategy. This campaign was designed with laser focus, crystal clear goals and an adaptive plan to make it happen. Their plan was outlined in the video.

The number one goal was to make Kony famous.

They had two target audiences to mobilize: the young and the powerful. This young (25 and under) audience could be reached through “culturemakers” rappers, actors, personalities, etc. The powerful were Congressional members. They chose “policy makers” former presidents, senators, etc who could be influential to this group. The idea was to reach out to the influential groups and ask them to speak to the target audiences on behalf of IC through retweets, sharing of posts on multiple social media sites and publicly displaying support.

The message was simple, compelling and always accompanied by the opportunity to donate and connect and share via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Of course, all of this did not occur in a vacuum. There were interviews, events, articles, unending hype to drive more traffic to the site. And lest we forget that all this has occurred, “Cover the Night” on April 20th should remind us with a worldwide call to paper our cities with Kony 2012 posters and paraphernalia. Is it at least a coincidence that 4/20 was chosen as the date? No, their pot smoking target will be celebrating anyway. Go ahead and piggyback on the holiday. And yes, UVA, I see you’re onboard. Cheers!

Whether or not you buy into this brand of activism, there is a lesson to be learned here. It’s hard to argue with what these tactics have achieved. If you find your organization achieving less than stellar response to your online campaign, ask yourselves a few questions. Is your message clear and compelling? Have you created a solid strategy with tangible goals? How well do you know your primary, secondary and tertiary target audiences? If this raises more questions than answers, I know a great PR firm that can help.

Facebook: The Best Place to Celebrate a Birthday

By Social Media

November 13 was my birthday. It’s OK if you missed it. (SNIFF!) Just make sure you make a note of it for next year.

I am a big fan of birthdays; I celebrate mine in a big way and my friends’ birthdays as well. I used to spend much of my birthday on the phone and getting together with friends — I still do a lot of that but Facebook has expanded my birthday into a pangalactic holiday. (That’s right. Aliens celebrate it, too.) Throughout the day I heard from childhood friends, cousins, clients, former clients, colleagues, people I only know online and close family and friends wishing me well on my Facebook profile.

It’s fantastic!

If there’s a so far unconvinced social media-interested person in your life, make sure they have a Facebook account and connect with all their contacts and friends before their birthday — they’ll get a kick out of all the birthday wishes and begin to understand how the platform keeps people connected to one another in the simplest of ways.

Americans Spend More Time on Facebook Than any Other U.S. Website

By Social Media

About a year ago in a client meeting a CEO of a business I worked with said to me, “Facebook is just for kids. We don’t need to pay attention to that.”


As business owners and marketers it’s no longer possible to ignore the fact that Facebook has won the eyes and rapt attention of millions for hours every single week. Nielsen reports that Americans spend more time on Facebook than any other U.S. website. Facebook had more than 140 million visitors in May of 2011 alone.

Facebook attracts an astounding 70 percent of active internet users.

This may be stating the obvious, but it is not enough to simply have a presence for your business on Facebook. Your business, whether a consumer business or B2B should have a business page, but that’s not all. Your business should have a plan for updating the page with content valuable to your community. Someone in your organization should be responsible for generating and posting that content, for tagging and liking others’ content and pages, for generating conversation and for being responsive to the community that gathers there.

How are you managing your business’s Facebook presence?


I’m teaching a workshop, Social Networking for Business Growth this Wednesday — you should come!

Seven Ways to Get More Fans for your Business on Facebook

By Social Media

I’ve been doing a lot of coaching, guiding and talking about legitimate ways to use your Facebook page to get more fans for your business. It’s really about building community and the ideas shared here are not unique to Facebook sharing, but are really excellent ways to use that platform. So often, businesses start going down the road of promotions and contests that, if done incorrectly, violate the Facebook terms of service. I assert that these promotions may not be what you need, (even if you are doing them the right way.) Rather, focus on what you CAN do to build community without resorting to bribery, freebies, conditions and begging.

Seven ideas:

  1. Be a resource for your community. What’s the latest news? What are you reading that your community would find of interest. Share the link in status updates.
  2. Take a poll — make it fun, and ask community members to share the poll with their friends (you can use the Polls or Questions applications to do this.)
  3. Feature a fan of the (day? week? month?) — what ever time frame works best for the resources at hand.
  4. Tag businesses you’ve “liked” in status updates (use Facebook as the page, then “like” other business pages; use the @ symbol to tag those pages in your updates.)
  5. Are there businesses geographically close to yours? Can you be a good neighbor by sharing their specials, their news or events?
  6. Ask closed-ended questions — people don’t want to work that hard to answer you, so give them a choice of two or more options to answer.
  7. Do share links to your best content (blog posts, videos, photos, etc. ) but share links to others’ content as well, at least a third of the time. It’s called SOCIAL media.

What other organic ways can you use your Facebook page to increase fans of your business?

Three Ways Your Company is Doing it Wrong on Facebook

By Social Media

Facebook is tricky; devious, even. Navigating the guidelines for operating successfully as a business is mystifying. Every day I catch companies doing something that violates the Facebook terms of service or is an unsound practice in online marketing. A sampling:

  1. After posting as the business on the business page, the admin user is commenting on the post, again as the page. Here’s how to do this right. 
  2. A random display of not necessarily relevant “likes” appear in the left sidebar. Here’s how to change that. 
  3. Promoting a contest or offer that requires Facebook interaction. e.g., Like us and you’ll get . . . that’s not kosher according to Facebook rules.
Stay tuned for some tips on ways to use Facebook the right way to earn more fans.