By now the controversy and excitement behind the Kony 2012 campaign is dwindling. But, just four weeks ago social media was flooded with talk on Invisible Children and their quest to spread the word about Joseph Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and the Army’s terrible practices. Invisible Children’s message spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook and many celebrities such as Justin Beiber and Mark Zuckerberg came out in support of the campaign. However, criticisms quickly surfaced about the organization and its campaign as well. Many condemned Invisible Children’s messaging strategy, said the campaign misrepresented facts, and accused the organization of misusing funds. To add to the controversy surrounding the campaign, Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell has recently come under media spotlight for his inappropriate behavior and arrest.

No matter which side you’re on in the Kony 2012 debate, what Invisible Children achieved through social media is remarkable and worthy of study. Less than two days after Invisible Children released the Kony 2012 documentary on YouTube the video had received close to 20 million views. Today, the video has more than 86 million views.  Two days after the video release Uganda, Invisible Children, and #stopkony were among the top ten trending items on Twitter in the U.S. and worldwide. Remarkably, these terms even ranked above Peyton Manning and the new iPad. These facts are even more impressive when you consider the video’s long length, clocking in at one second shy of 30 minutes.

Invisible Children’s success not only came from their documentary, but also from their effective leveraging of Facebook and Twitter. Their website went down soon after the video gained popularity but they effectively kept everyone updated through their Twitter account to assure the public they were working on the problem. They quickly responded to critics on Twitter and directed them to a part of their website where they were addressing all questions and concerns. Invisible Children retweeted and replied to celebrities who showed their support via Twitter, thereby showcasing their famous brand ambassadors. Moreover, in Danah Boyd’s blog she talks about how Invisible Children effectively targeted American youth to outreach to celebrities and friends on Twitter and spread the Kony 2012 message. Invisible Children has also been able to engage with their audience through their Facebook page by posting supplemental information, updates on campaign material orders, and behind the scenes videos among other things.

Invisible Children's Twitter account responding to critics

The organization is currently preparing for the launch of their second video tomorrow. Invisible Children’s Facebook page and Twitter have been posting videos and photos promoting the new film, but the buzz doesn’t seem to have caught on yet. Only time will tell if Invisible Children’s social media skills will be able to propel this video into the type of stardom the first documentary achieved.

Invisible Children's New Video
Photo taken from Invisible Children's Facebook page