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Why 'Kony 2012' video grabbed 100 million views online

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Brendan McDermid/Reuters

(Read caption) Jason Russell is co-founder of the nonprofit Invisible Children and director of the "Kony 2012" viral video campaign that calls for the arrest of Joseph Kony, the rebel leader of the Lord's Resistance Army militia group in Uganda. He agrees with skeptics who have called the film oversimplified, saying it was deliberately made that way.

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The Chronicle asked Michael Hoffman, chief executive of See3 Communications, a consulting company that helps nonprofits use video for advocacy and fundraising campaigns, to share lessons from the success of “Kony 2012,” the video about the African warlord Joseph Kony. His essay follows:

 Invisible Children’s controversial “Kony 2012″ video has reached unprecedented heights for a social-cause video.

It has already received more than 100 million views on YouTube and Vimeo. The most amazing thing to many people is that the video is nearly 30 minutes long, which surely breaks the “rule” that online videos need to be short to be effective.

Starting From a Strong Base

It is important to understand that Invisible Children has been working for a decade building a strong, active, and passionate base of young supporters around the world. The San Diego advocacy group has one of the strongest social-media networks of any nonprofit in the world.

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.

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