Going Viral: The Kony Phenomenon

Danny Cooper, Features Editor
March 29, 2012 • 587 views

When a virus enters a human body it takes over the machinery of the cells, replicating exponentially until it has taken over the entire body.

While the Kony 2012 campaign is not a deadly pathogen, it displays this same remarkable form of growth.

According to information released by YouTube the viewership of the video was “phenomenal. “The video currently has over 80 million views, and while other videos have topped this number, Kony 2012 has achieved it much faster.

The video’s hits peaked on March 13, with 31 million views on this day alone.

According to an article titled, “Kony 2012’s Success Shows There’s Big Money Attached to White Saviors,” published on Color Lines, this viewership is especially significant considering that Kony 2012 is a non-profit video with that is almost half an hour long.

You Tube’s statistics show that the usual videos with this viewership, like the previously most viral video, Susan Boyle’s, “I Dreamed A Dream” are much shorter comedic or music related videos.

“The Kony 2012 campaign has pushed what’s literally become one of the most successful viral video in history,” the article stated.

Similarly, the Staples Kony 2012 Facebook group has demonstrated the same type of growth. Within a day after being created the group had over 1,000 members and was generating a constant flow of comments.

This record-breaking attention was not random; certain key elements of the video are responsible for such exponential viewership.

“It told a simple story in a compelling way and got a lot of famous people to tell it, too,” stated the article from Color Lines.

This article stated that the simplicity of the message of the video contributed to its appeal, as telling the audience to stop one man is much more attainable than stopping poverty or infectious diseases. The viewer wasn’t overloaded with details about the situation in Uganda, but instead given a mission to stop one man, that according to the video, “must be completed this year.”

“This video was pushed to and talked about by a massive wave of young supporters who used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and e-mail to share it. As a result, the “Kony 2012″ video had a unique advantage,” stated an article titled “Why ‘Kony 2012′ video grabbed 100 million views online,” published on the Christian Science Monitor

This video was particularly targeted at youth, and made use of social media to spread its message far.

This article also stated that the video had another trait essential to viral campaigns, it had a simple phrase, “Kony 2012” that summed up the entire campaign, and could easily be spread.

However, another key feature of viral campaigns is that after the massive boom in interest, the viewership will sharply decline unless new information develops. The Staples Kony 2012 group has seen this decline. Minutes between comments have turned into days as arguments over the merit of the cause have become stale.

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