Invisible Children’s Offline Campaign Lands After Its Social Media Prime-Time

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ADOTAS – You might’ve forgotten about this, but today, Apr. 20, is slotted for the international, real-time, out-in-the-streets component of nonprofit humanitarian organization Invisible Children‘s “Kony 2012” campaign to alert people around the world of the crimes of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and to demand the planet’s most powerful governments act to halt his atrocities. This — “Cover the Night,” the event’s called — was supposed to be the blossoming of a movement and a discussion that had primarily happened online — a moment of truth, at which the full momentum of the movement would be revealed. We’d all see, according to Invisible Children’s plans, a sudden eruption of community service action, followed by the appearance of posters and stickers in public places and a peaceful army of commemorative T-shirt-wearers.

Of course, that’s not entirely in the cards. The centerpiece “Kony 2012″ video, the most viral online video ever and the fastest-spreading branded video ever, had its moment really early in the campaign — probably earlier than anyone involved with it had expected. Questions about the video’s perspective and its relationship to historical fact erupted, a big reveal of Invisible Children’s financial books proved embarrassing, and Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell’s bizarre public breakdown and arrest effectively filed the whole campaign under “things you don’t bring up at Sunday dinner.” In a matter of days, the campaign went from being a marketing dream come true to being a cautionary tale, even if the lessons weren’t entirely clear. (You can read an ADOTAS analysis of virality and brand reputation through the lens of the “Kony 2012” video here.)

In advance of whatever ends up happening tonight, social intelligence engine Topsy Labs has shared some insights about “Kony 2012” and social media interactions, going back to the original release of the viral video. Topsy Labs tallied over 12.5 million Twitter mentions of terms related to Invisible Children’s campaign — and the two biggest spikes were on March 5, the day the video went viral, and March 16, the date of Russell’s arrest. The month of April, according to Topsy’s stats, has seen 498,000 mentions (as of Wednesday, Apr. 18, at least), which is less than 5 percent of the 11.5 million mentions from March. Numbers dropped dramatically around the time of Russell’s arrest, which also saw an uptick of the term “#horny2012,” which Topsy called said started a week earlier as an offhand pun and soon proved unexpectedly prescient.

The stats Topsy Labs shared also showed that since March 1, 2.2 percent of all Tweets from people in Uganda — over 8,000 Tweets — were around terms related to the Kony video, which is a pretty impressive share of the Twitter discussion for an entire country.

Here’s a graph Topsy Labs put together to show those Twitter trends over time:

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