Unruly Media released their Global Viral Video Ads Chart for 2012 this week and although the usual massive names are on the list including Nike, Coke and VW it is a once little known Non Profit Organization called Invisible Children that has taken the top spot with over 10 million shares.
The video in question is of course Kony 2012; the film that ignited opinions as well as shares across the world upon its release, it inspired heated debate as well as parodies, perhaps the most famous being South Park's take on the whole affair and particular the mental breakdown and subsequent public exposure of the Invisible Children founder.
Leaving the other big brands in its wake the success of the Kony film this year tells us two important things about the future of online video production and social media marketing.
Firstly, length is no longer a factor. Kony 2012 was a 30-minute documentary which able to garner some six million more shares than the next highest ranked viral ad (TNT Belgium's Dramatic Advert). This isn't to say that all brands should start making short form documentaries as the second factor is inextricably linked to this.
Secondly, in order to succeed like Kony the brand content and marketing strategy needs to be extremely potent. Kony reaches viewers on levels that other brands cannot by definition of being a worthy (though debatable) cause, but the branding of the film and the excellent use of social media and call to actions that created all those shares should be applauded and can be replicated and fitted to other brand's campaigns.
In terms of the list itself, shares of the top 10 viral ads rose from 16.8 million in 2011 to 28.0 million in 2012 proving that our online viewing habits are increasing and evolving year on year. There was also a 21% increase in the amount of shares in total amongst the top 500 ads of 2012 and it should be noted that only three brands remained in the top 20 from 2011. They were Red Bull, VW and DC shoes.