Kony 2012: The greatest awareness campaign ever?
Pretty much. The Kony 30 minute doc has racked up well over 100 million views. Was it simply a finely crafted and expertly messaged piece of content that did it? Yes, but it needed to bust through the initial ceiling of obscurity to build a critical mass. An excellent post by Socialflow's Gilad Lotan explains how Invisible Children increased the video's chances of success by building networks of supporters that acted as a launchpad when mobilised. Furthermore, they designed mechanisms through which they could address celebrities – vast audiences with audiences. Another informative post gives further pointers as to what they did right, including: focusing on a single issue; ignoring policy wonks; and speaking the language of their intended audience.
This cat fight has served as a proxy for a wider debate on the efficacy of social media – two critiques often emerge:
Too powerful: But what if the over-simplication does more harm than good?
Many criticisms of over-simplication have been aimed at the Kony video. Arguably one of the best is by Mamood Mamdani, eminent Ugandan academic. Mamdani rejoined Twitter to join the debate. Meanwhile searches for the word "Uganda" is still double what they were before the Kony video. Our take? Awareness is better than obscurity as it allows for exactly that: an exchange of information.
Too weak: This is just slacktivism
Zeynep Tufekci argues (and warms many a social media marketer's heart) that liking, retweeting and sharing can lead to action:
"We are a highly-symbolic, group-oriented species and signaling our preferences to others is a key dimension of human action. 'Public' is a meta-concept; it's not just about what you know internally, but what you express and what others know that you believe and that you know that others know. Hence, the public sphere is formed not just through people's silently held beliefs, but through overt signaling of ideology and narratives – and this signalling increasingly takes place online… Further, all human societies operate in a world of socially-constructed norms and ideals. And the changes to those ideals are immensely important. If norms move, than often action also moves."
Changing of the Guard
The Encyclopaedia Britannica this week announced the end of their print version. Forbes – in a not entirely unrelated article – highlighted the meteorotic rise of powerful new mobile devices: it took 15 years for laptops to reach 50 million units sold yearly. It took smartphones 7 years. Tablets? Just two years.
Facebook Insights goes real-time
In a week where a study conluded that 82% of Business Facebook pages post a paltry 5 times a month, Facebook announced a big update to their analytics. The low activity by companies should perhaps not be so surprising, argues Econsultancy. Even when brands have thousands of Likes they struggle to get much engagement on their pages. However, reports now show that the new timeline feature for brands increases engagement, and the new real-time analytics will enable brands to highlight or remove content soon after they have published it, based on immediate feedback.
If RAAK was one person, we'd be a nerd. Proof? Two other studies this week (nearly) satiated our curiosity. Why do people use Instagram? An ethnographic study reveals a few interesting points: people want to find other people with whom they have common interests; people want to document the world around them and provide "visual status updates" to their friends. Another study confirmed the findings of a British one about the kinds of Tweets people like and dislike. Informational, funny and yes – self promotion – all score positively.
This summer in a park or party near you
Check out this Kickstarter project: set Instaprint to look out for specific locations or hashtags, and any Instagram picture tagged appropriately will automatically be printed out on inkless paper. Lovely.
Creative of the Week – Yvo Schaap
Here at RAAK HQ we like Reddit. A lot. So, naturally our interest is piqued to the max when someone does something interesting with Reddit data. Which is just what Yvo Schaap did, in the form of an exquisite Reddit Post Activity Visualisation. It shows, in realtime, upvotes, downvotes and comments on top posts as a waterfall of icons, filling up the bargraphs below. It's a thing of beauty – you just have to see it live …
Posted by Gerrie Smits