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.

Who Sees @ Replies on Twitter?

By Communications

What? Not work-appropriate?

I’ve been seeing lots of Twitter users making a common mistake. I’m on a mission to help change this.

Here’s the deal: an @ reply, such as the one below, is only visible to the mutual followers of the parties involved. So the following tweet only shows up in the tweet streams of my followers and of @kraftykmay’s. (I had tweeted that I thought I should acquire a fascinator for use in the home office.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Marijean/status/78560816181411840″]

@kraftykmay and I have a lot of the same friends. They “get” us and would be following the (albeit silly) conversation.

Here’s another example of a tweet that’s a reply, but that would benefit a bigger audience that just the mutual followers.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RelayFoods/status/78492572342943744″]

Later, I learned about a blog from a girl with cancer and thought that not only my friend Darah Bonham who runs @abolishcancer would be interested in reading more about, but that all of my followers would be interested as well. To make sure all of my followers could see the tweet,  I did something really simple:

I put a . in front of the @

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Marijean/status/78564244085415936″]

It doesn’t have to be a period — that’s just the simplest solution. Anything put in front of the @ will do.

Now go Tweet and reply (judiciously, of course) so that everyone who follows you may see it.

You’re welcome. Now somebody buy me a fascinator and I promise to post a pic of me wearing it.

More valuable Twitter tips.

Five Lessons on How Not to Use Twitter

By Communications

I was absolutely stunned when, during a workshop I was teaching, I learned that a business owner had instructed staff managing the company’s Twitter account, to block anyone who wanted to follow the business on Twitter if they seemed irrelevant.


I know that the business community is still trying to wrap its mind around Twitter and how it can be used in a business context. Above all, what I want to share is this: Twitter is a microblog — updates are like tiny blog posts of 140 characters or less. If that helps make sense of Twitter to your and your business then good; you understand that a blog is published for anyone to see and find via search engines and the idea of publishing in this way (0r on any social network) is to attract people who find you and your content of value.

As a short and sweet guide to what NOT to do on Twitter, I offer you the following five thoughts:

  1. Don’t block people following you unless they are obnoxious spammers (in which case, block away)
  2. Don’t sell, sell, sell, instead, take the time to engage in conversation with those who follow you and those you follow
  3. Don’t regurgitate endlessly; there’s a trend among some Twitter users to tweet quotes from others — ad nauseum! I don’t care if Oprah, the Dalai Lama or Jesus said it; I don’t want to read a stream of tweets that’s mostly “quotables.” That’s just boring.
  4. Don’t — for the love of all that is good and holy — use AutoDM’s, as my aunt would say, like they’re going out of style. There’s a time and place for auto response and this isn’t it.
  5. While it’s important to stay on message — and I fully support that if you’re tweeting on behalf of a business you need to make sure what you are publishing there is relevant — but for goodness’ sakes, pay attention to what’s being said in the stream of those you’re following and join the conversation. Don’t just push out your content — engage.

In case all of this still leaves you scratching your head in wonder, one last reminder: you’re there to discover and build relationships, not merely crank out content. Honor that.


Social Media Assignment #5: Find Your Tweeps

By Communications

I let you have a few days off; call them virtual snow days. Now, back to work!

If you’re not on Twitter, go set up an account at www.twitter.com We’ll wait.

If you’ve ignored that last line, still don’t have a Twitter account and yet are still reading this post (tough room), here’s the deal — you want a Twitter account in the name of your choosing yesterday. If you don’t grab your name, or the name you want it will be gone (if it is not already). So even if you’re not quite ready to tweet, grab your name (and make sure you tweet a little or you will lose it.)


You have a Twitter account and you’re following a few people; some are friends or bloggers you follow, others found you and you’re simply following them back.

Today’s Social Media Assignment: Find People to Follow on Twitter

Go to http://www.tweepz.com

Conduct a search using query tools, for example:

name: “Marijean Jaggers”


loc: Charlottesville, Va.

Use keywords to help you find the people you seek. Realize that, as usual, search is only as good as the information to find, so if people haven’t completed their biographical information, they may be more difficult to find. THIS IS A NUDGE TO GO COMPLETE YOUR BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION.

Ahem. Subtlety is not my strong suit.

Let’s see who we can follow, shall we?

For fun, I did a search for people with “business” in their bio, entering: bio: business.

Naturally the return was a huge number of users; more than 25,000. The next step when something like this happens is to refine your search by excluding extracted entities. Because I speak English, I start by excluding other languages, then I’ll move to excluding users who don’t follow anyone and so on down the line until I’ve created a more specifically generated list of people I want to follow.

You may be doing this exercise for yourself or for a client — if you’re generating this information for monitoring purposes, you can create an RSS feed to follow the search.

I hope this helps you develop new relationships via Twitter and you find it as beneficial as I have.

5 Ways to Get Started on Twitter

By Communications

A friend of mine is new to Twitter. In fact, he has a new job and as part of the job has been asked to become active in using it to help promote the business. He needs to fast-track to success on Twitter so just for him (hey, this is for my friend Tom, not for you! Stop reading this!) I’ve put together a list of five things Tom can do to get rolling with his Twitter account:

1. Create a bio that more fully tells us who he is and what he does. The bio should include his location and keywords about the business he’s in.

2. Increase the number of people he follows. Since Tom’s business is based in Charlottesville, Va. he should start there. I’ve done some of the work for him, using Tweepz to grab the people in Charlottesville who are active Twitter users.

3. Integrate his Twitter account into his other social platforms. For example, on LinkedIn, include his Twitter handle in the last name field and where LinkedIn lists Twitter in the profile fields as I’ve done with mine below:

4. Start tweeting! Yes this seems obvious but Tom has yet to interact with Twitter followers or the users he’s following, nor has he tweeted about what he’s doing or what he’s thinking.  Be thoughtful. Be interesting. Link to content you think others might find of interest. Be helpful and responsive.

5. Use a management tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. It’s really cumbersome to try to manage a Twitter account when you begin following more than a few users and more than a few begin to follow and interact with you. It is also nice to be able to see, on one screen, your @ replies and direct messages in addition to the steady stream of updates from your friends. Schedule at least an hour a day to log in, catch up and engage with the Twitterverse.

After he gets the hang of this Twitter business, Tom can gauge his success by measuring his Twitter effectiveness using Klout.

Welcome to Twitter, Tom (and the rest of you who are new to tweets); we wish you much success!