In case you’ve been living under a rock, everyone has been chatting about Ugandan guerrilla group leader Joseph Kony the past week. I first saw “Kony 2012” on my Instragram feed. Then I flipped through my other social media profiles and found #StopKony trending on Twitter, “Make Kony Famous” on Facebook and “Stop at Nothing” posters on Pinterest. When I turned on CNN, I quickly realized this wasn’t just a social media craze.
After watching the 30-minute-long documentary that sparked the discussion, I felt like vomiting – to say the least. This brutal warlord has been destroying the lives of thousands of children in western Africa for decades. When I say “destroying,” I mean this both literally and metaphorically. If you haven’t done so, take a look at the video. It does a great job of incorporating emotion and urgency in a way that encourages people to act now.
Ultimately, Invisible Children, the nonprofit organization that funded the video, wants to raise awareness of the issue and make Kony infamous so he can be captured and stopped. Millions of people around the globe have viewed the heart-wrenching documentary and ignited conversations on both sides of the issue.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about video, but I believe it did a wonderful job of using elements of persuasive communication to create a video that had the ingredients to go viral.
- It presents a challenge to its viewers
- The fact that the video will be pulled from the web creates urgency
- It uses a blond-haired boy to pull on viewers’ heartstrings
- It incorporates the nation’s addiction: Facebook
- Its mission is clear: Stop Kony
In a matter of days, the documentary turned internet addicts into social activists by making them feel like a part of a greater cause. If nonprofits can create content in this way, maybe they too can demand attention and action on behalf of their constituents.