"Kony 2012 reflected back to us what we want to see in ourselves," says Hoffman. And what we want to see in ourselves is passion--the passion to do what is right. "Every company should have that passion," and be able to share that passion with their audience, he says.
But if you're going to tell such a personal story, be prepared, says Dorothy Engelman, senior partner at Q Communications in Toronto.
To be sure, not every video goes viral. And not every organization that gains some notoriety through a well-made video will be put under a magnifying glass.
But when companies tell personal stories, people listen and listen closely. Companies may even have to withstand the kind of personal and organizational scrutiny Russell and Invisible Children faced in the weeks following the release of Kony 2012.
Being prepared is not a new idea. In many ways preparing for a social media campaign is the same as traditional public relations risk management. But what is new is the speed information travels and the magnitude of people online videos can reach, Engleman says.
Social media--iincluding video--require transparency, Engelman says. "And if you're going to be transparent, you'd better be buff."
Be Prepared to Go Viral
"You've got to be ready to step into the sunlight."
Along with transparency, companies launching social media campaigns need to be prepared to accurately measure success and fend off technical glitches that may come with a surge in online traffic.
Viewers of Kony 2012 ignited social networks at an unprecedented rate. The #StopKony hashtag used on Twitter, for example, had 12,000 tweets per ten minutes at the height of the events, according to SocialFlow, a social media optimization and analytics firm.
But pageviews and Twitter mentions shouldn't be the only measure of success, says Jason Ricci, CIO of the Energy Foundation. "It's all about engagement for me."
Along with traditional metrics, Ricci recommends tracking how many viewers watched the video from beginning to end. How many only watched half? Or less? He also says analysts should monitor when viewers click away from the video. Is there something specific in your campaign that's driving viewers away?
But most importantly, says Ricci, CIOs need to be at the table during the social media campaign planning process. Many times "there's just not enough coordination between the CIO and the marketing side," he says.
If the goal is a surge in attention and traffic, the CIO needs to prepare his or her team. There would be no greater failure than to be ill prepared when your video goes viral, Ricci says.