Invisible Children became Attention Economy millionaires in a matter of days. Here is how:
1. They Made it Personal
How does a young father from San Diego make a warlord famous? He starts by telling us about his own son. The story’s narrative does not open with photos or news reports of Joseph Kony‘s atrocities, nor with an introduction of the former child soldier named Jacob. The story begins in a delivery room of a hospital in the United States. Jason Russel takes the viewer along on HIS journey, not that of a Ugandan child or warlord.
2. They Knew Their Audience
Why did Russel make a film about himself? He did so because naive and impressionable youth are his audience. Kony 2012 is NOT a film for Africans. It is a film for American youth and the best way to capture their attention is by giving them a story to which they can relate. IC made editorial decisions that always put the audience above any concern for other viewers or policy complexity. Jason Mogus articulated this well in his post, Why your non-profit won’t make a Kony 2012:
IC knew who its audience was, simply, American youth. It speaks in their language, using their cultural heros and influencers. Everything in KONY 2012 from the visuals (Facebook, hip posters) to the tone (hopeful, not dour or depressing) to the emotional hooks (kids, the power of people to tip the world, social media) speaks directly to this audience. Maybe this is one reason why it annoyed so many “institutional experts” over 40!
3. They Were Bold and Controversial
IC’s goal was to, “Make Kony Famous,” and drive a young generation to human rights activism. What they needed was attention. IC was bound to upset many by being incredibly personal and driving messaging at one audience. This is the trade off in an age where information flows fast and free: use general messages that appeal on the surface to many, but deeply engage nobody; or, target your message to the point that it will alienate many audiences while enthralling your target.
We have moved to a media reality in which a small group of broadcasters no longer demand viewers’ attention, but viewers demand content made for them, when they want it. It seems counter-intuitive, but the way to ultimately reach millions is to focus all your attention on a few (See: Zuckerberg, Mark). IC has spent 9 years targeting young and hyper-connected idealists. Kony 2012 was the culmination of those efforts and it grabbed a passionate core audience who turned it into a viral sensation.To gain committed supporters in the New Media world, you must be prepared for some stone throwing.
4. They Made a Social Movie About Social Activism
Make a product within the medium where you want your supporters to take action. This is advice we give often. Want your activists to upload webcam videos? Then design a call to action on YouTube. Want them to make well-produced and artistic videos? Then target Vimeo and Blip.TV. Photo camapigning – Flickr; Trending Tweets – Twitter; Tell their friends – Facebook, and so on…
Oistein pointed out that IC in effect made a film about the power of social media. They drove their supporters to share the film by making the film within a Facebook timeline. The film even opens with clips of the Arab Spring and highlights social media’s power to drive change that the “Experts” said would never happen. The message is both subliminal and overt: We can change the world with social media.
5. They Already Won
One of the most interesting and confusing facts about Kony 2012 for me is that the call to action is, by definition, a call to inaction. IC does not want something new to happen, they want things to stay as they are — “Keep the military advisers in Central Africa.” There are two valuable lessons within this reality:
Activists should not obsess about getting 100 million people paying attention to their cause, because you rarely need that many people to make change. IC and many allies, including Enough and Amnesty International, had worked for years to drive more US interest in stopping the LRA and they succeeded. In fact, their efforts led to a UN supported mission (that ended tragically) and George W. Bush sending military support, all before Obama announced similar efforts in October, 2011.
Successful awareness campaigns call for specific action. IC has tipped their hand in past statements and videos that they are not simply about capturing Kony — they are about developing a “Never Again” generation of young people who use all the tools at their disposal, including social media, to stop atrocities. However, this is done by uniting around a single cause with a high degree of success. Large-scale awareness campaigns must heed this lesson. You do not get people to care by describing a generic issue, but by calling for specific action related to that issue. Some worry that these new activists will be disillusioned if Kony is not captured this year. More likely, military advisers will stay put and IC will claim further victory through the lack of withdrawal. “Stop Kony” is the rallying cry, but serves as the penultimate, not ultimate goal.
I’ve been involved in public awareness campaigns seeking to mobilize 100-500 million activists on issues of Poverty, Climate Change, Education, and the Food System. All have had far more resources and celebrity support than Kony 2012; none have had nearly the level of social media success. Discuss.
superman-300×233.jpg” alt=”Image from film Waiting for Superman” width=”237″ height=”185″ />I just watched Waiting For Superman (which for some weird reason is not an Oscar Nominee) and was inspired! Truly one of the best ‘advocay docs’ I’ve seen in a very long time. This is a film everyone interested in campaign communications should watch. Yet, it leaves me wanting… Here are some thoughts:
1. Clear articulation of a problem: Schools are failing. Kids lose out. The solution will not come from lottery or superman.
2. Clear articulation of solutions: Stop waiting for superman. Great people make great schools. Examples of success is showcased in parallell with exposing the systemic problems blocking reform.
3. Powerful storytelling: It’s a beautiful mix of an emotional, factual and personal journey which allows you to meet the people affected by the problem, the villains upholding the problem and the inspiring individuals working for change. And you end up wanting to join the changemakers!
4. Same old actions: Now, with regards to actions they have all the standard ones (text this number, write to your elected official, like it on facebook etc), nothing particulary new or groundbreaking. I’ve tweeted about it but I feel I could do more – I want to volunteer in a school or something… and I think this is our collective challenge. Even when we’re as successful as Waiting For Superman in telling the story, exposing injustice and inspiring action – we’re not particularly good at providing inspiring actions.
This is a problem that gets even harder if the topic we’re campaigning on is global: If your target is ‘world leaders’ rather than ‘local elected official’, or your aim is ending world hunger vs improving your kids’ school…How do we effectively make the actions we ask people to take more proportionate to the problems we present? What is the equivalent of ‘volunteering at your local school’ if the problem is global? Should our guiding light be to follow local media and give every global problem a local answer..? Is it so the only audience that matters is the one that feels the problem as their local problem…?
Nate rose to blog prominence, or “bloginence,” for his startling accurate predictions of the 2008 election on FiveThirtyEight (538 is the number of electors in the US electoral college). Having conquered baseball prediction models and election polling, Nate has set his sights climate change. He issued a bold and brilliant challenge to climate change skeptics this summer:
The rules of the challenge are as follows:
1. For each day that the high temperature in your hometown is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit above average, as listed by Weather Underground, you owe me $25. For each day that it is at least 1 degree Fahrenheit below average, I owe you $25.
2. The challenge proceeds in monthly intervals, with the first month being August. At the end of each month, we’ll tally up the winning and losing days and the loser writes the winner a check for the balance.
3. The challenge automatically rolls over to the next month until/unless: (i) one party informs the other by the 20th of the previous month that he would like to discontinue the challenge (that is, if you want to discontinue the challenge for September, you’d have to tell me this by August 20th), or (ii) the losing party has failed to pay the winning party in a timely fashion, in which case the challenge may be canceled at the sole discretion of the winning party.
Cabinet Members speak with over 100 young leaders on clean energy at the White House. December 2, 2009.
Youth Clean Energy Economy Forum Part II
White House staff on clean energy hold a live online breakout session via Facebook. December 2, 2009.
Youth Clean Energy Economy Forum Part III
White House staff on clean energy listen to reports back from several breakout sessions focused on improving engagement between the White House and youth leaders. December 2, 2009
ADVISORY: Cabinet Secretaries to Headline Clean Energy Economy Forum with Youth Leaders
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, December 2, four members of President Obama’s Cabinet will host a Clean Energy Economy Forum with youth leaders from around the country at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar , Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, and other Administration officials will reiterate the need for a comprehensive energy plan that puts America back in control of its energy future. Transitioning to clean energy will create jobs, enhance national security and help protect our environment for generations to come. They will also participate in a dialogue with attendees on the benefits of the clean energy economy for younger generations and the role young Americans have in creating and sharing those opportunities.
The forum will be webcast live at www.whitehouse.gov/live and will be open to the public through Facebook, where an innovative White House application will allow the public to watch and discuss the event live. The White House will be keeping up with the chat, taking questions, and incorporating feedback from chat participants during the event.
Coverage details are below:
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis
Energy Secretary Steven Chu
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
WHAT: Clean Energy Economy Forum
WHEN: Wednesday, December 2 at 4:00 pm
WHERE: Eisenhower Executive Office Building
South Court Auditorium
A supporter of Palin in Ohio knows little about the former candidate's policies, and doesn't seem to care to know.
Last week, I blogged about the hilarious reaction of children to Palin’s book, Going Rogue, at a New York City bookstore. The team at New Left Media take us for a look at the real Palin supporters lining up to meet her in Ohio. It seems that the children John Oliver interviewed know just as much about Palin’s policies as her die hard supporters. It is stunning to witness how little they know about the policies of the women they desperately want to be president.
Their self-professed Palin ignorance, won’t deter any of them from supporting her against an evil Obama who isn’t an American, is promoting partial birth abortions and wrote two books about his own “Marxism” and “Leninism.” This is all according to, “FOX News” of course. Watch the whole 8 minutes. Of course, their biggest gripe with Obama: He supports the “others.” as much or more than he supports real Americans. As one fine Christian woman says, “Americans should be first, the other people should be last.” Amen, sister. Amen.
Watching this, I’m reminded of the key emotion in branding and marketing: Love. Most people think trust is the key to a brand or product, but seasoned marketers are after love precisely because it is, “Beyond reason.” Whether familial, romantic, friendly, or even for a product, love supersedes a person’s reasoned analysis. Have you ever ate something you knew was bad for you. An ill-fated choice of cheese fries and a chocolate shake (made more than once) at 3am comes to mind for me. How about a relationship you knew you should end, but kept falling back into? “Love beyond reason” is the key to great brands…Man, do I love how this Mac looks and feels as I type right now.
Beyond love Palin supporters, like many conservatives, are “True Believers.” You most often find “true believers” within relgion (hmmm, seeing a connection maybe?), where followers blindly take part in faith and traditions that have no reasonable proof or value. I couldn’t wait to eat the flesh and drink the blood of a “god-man” who died nearly 2,000 years before I was born — a man who I “Loved beyond reason.” Of the many traits of “True Believers,” a key is that information that challenges their belief must be discarded. As with love, true belief is beyond logic, even greater than logic…it’s true!
These two characteristics are not bad per se, but they can be applied in dangerous ways. In this case, I don’t think it is as important that we pass judgement on the Palin armies as it is that we truly understand them. Any attempts to simply sway them with logic will fall on deaf ears. Progressives must understand that in our “Branded for Life” society, we are in a constant war of brands, as much as idea. I for one don’t celebrate this fact, but I respect it.
Daily Show reporter John Oliver reads Palin's new book to kids in a New York City book store. They'd prefer something else.
Yes, these kids would probably rather, “Jump in a volcano,” than read the Audacity of Hope as well. The genius of this report by John Oliver was that it juxtaposed Jon Stewart’s opening piece (below) about the media’s 13 year old girl-like squealing over the Palin book, with the reality at a New York book shop. The entire episode last night was an examination of the cultural divide between Palin’s fans and detractors. She clearly is a litmus test, and where someone falls on the Palin love-hate scale can likely explain their political leanings, geography, religion and cultural sensibilities.
The episode featured Lou Dobbs, fresh from his CNN walk off, in an extended interview where Stewart and Dobbs battled over the cause of the Right’s rage. Dobbs thinks it is the effect of 8+ (Bush and Obama) years of government pushing through policies that ignored the public’s wishes. Stewart surmises that Republicans are just poor losers.You can watch full interview of Dobbs and Stewart here. (more…)