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Well, actually that title is a bit misleading since Joseph Kony hasn’t fallen from power yet. However, it is clear that the people who set out to topple him have experienced a fall of their own.
Earlier this year, Invisible Children made headlines on global scale with their #Kony2012 campaign, which was supposed to slip the drive against Kony’s use of child-soldiers into overdrive. The video went viral, setting records and generating incredible amounts of earned media. Everyone clicked and watched and retweeted and re-upped and liked and forwarded. And then the founder of the movement, Jason Russell, was caught on camera in the midst of a public breakdown (that included public drunkeness and vandalizing cars). A major setback for the movement? Not as much as you’d think. You see, setbacks generally arrest progress – and let’s face it, what progress was there to be had? There has been no material change in the situation of these child soldiers and as has been mentioned before, Joseph Kony has not yet been brought to justice. Most tellingly, the 20th of April passed by without so much as a flicker of media-interest. What’s special about the 20th of April/ It was the next step in the campaign aka Cover The Night, a global event where every city around the world would, under cover of darkness, be covered in Kony 2012 collateral. According to the Guardian, the event suffered from “paltry turnouts on Friday at locations across north America, Europe and Australia”.
So what does it all mean? Essentially, it’s a confirmation of what we’ve secretly known all this time: social media activism is no substitute for the real on-the-ground action. Tying this back to marketing (which is after all, what we’re about), the same is true about your social media marketing activity. It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page. If you want to really reach your market, make the changes on your shop floor or with your after-sales team or your packaging. Show your market in material ways how you back up what you say in your status updates. Social media should be one of the cogs that drives your marketing strategy but you need to power it up even further with actual real world engagement in a way that’s relevant to your target market. It’s a virtuous cycle that never fails to win hearts and minds – and a lesson that Invisible Children have learned the hard way.
By the way, if you’re stuck about how to make it happen for your business, ask us. We’d be happy to help.