Joseph Kony is having a very bad week. And somewhere on a top floor in Manhattan, some media executives may have also realized they’re having a bad week for very different reasons. And they both have to do with this thing called “social media”.
Ask someone what Social Media is about, and they’ll probably say it’s how they keep in touch with friends. Or a way to follow celebrities, share videos of talking dogs or watch cute kids after going to the dentist.
But somehow, it seemed like it could be more. It seemed like it should be more.
And this week, among the growing social media clatter, someone got it. A code broken. People rising in one voice, and an African tyrant surely is wondering how he just got called out – not by a giant media company, but one guy with a YouTube and Twitter account.
It all started when film maker, Jason Russell, sent this tweet with a link to YouTube on March 5 at 5:35 p.m.
Simple and uneventful enough. Like pushing a baseball-sized snowball off the peak of a snow-covered mountain. But then it happened.
It was retweeted. And favorited. And posted. And forwarded. And then people didn’t just send to their followers. They sent to influencers. Celebrities with giant followings. Like Oprah and Justin Bieber big. Tim Tebow and Angelina Jolie.
The snowball had grown in size and gained in velocity.
U.S. Senators took notice and cheered it on. News stations, perhaps annoyed that a single film maker could have a bigger influence than 60 Minutes, talked about it on their broadcasts. And retweeted. And favorited. And posted. And forwarded.
The White House then announced it was throwing its support behind the anti-Kony movement.
And just a few days later, the video simply called “KONY 2012″ is the most viral event in human history. 70,000,000 views of a 30 minute video. Four times as many viewers as those who watched American Idol.
Surely this week, somewhere in Africa, someone pulled the hiding Joseph Kony aside and told him the bad news. In a matter of hours, he has gone from relative anonymity to among the most hated and sought men on the planet for his war crimes.
And surely, somewhere on a top floor of a giant news network, someone pulled an executive aside and told him or her the bad news. Not about Joseph Kony, but that the media power may have shifted this week like tectonic plates during an earthquake. From News Media to Social Media.
And I’m not sure it will ever completely go back.