Invisible Children's first video about Kony, March's Kony 2012, took the US by storm and generated 87 million Web views. By press time, only about 1.7 million viewers had watched Beyond Famous on YouTube, an admirable tally for a good-cause video, but far short of the lofty standards Invisible Children established earlier this spring.
PR Play rating:
3. On the right track
The reason for the first video's success is simple: the organization laid out a clear case against Kony, describing allegations of mass killings, rapes, and child abductions of which he and the Lord's Resistance Army are accused. It also did so in a way that is easily sharable on Facebook and other social media, while it targeted a generation that highly values social causes.
That viral quality also led to considerable mainstream media coverage and the group responded adequately to questions about its sincerity and concerns that it oversimplified the issue's geopolitical context. But it didn't help Invisible Children's well-meaning efforts when the maker of Kony 2012, Jason Russell, suffered a public meltdown in March when he was detained by police in San Diego.
Invisible Children should have expanded its plan of attack for Beyond Famous, using more media relations tools instead of focusing on a smaller audience. Social causes, just as for-profit brands do, compete for consumers' attention. Invisible Children could have taken a lesson from many marketers on how to follow up a splashy debut with a sustaining initiative that maintains the public's interest.