Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

The Trouble With Kony 2012

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The “Kony 2012” film, made by an organization called Invisible Children, Inc., (IC) is a prime example of how social media can push out a video and people react to it without time to get context and background to make an informed judgment.

Joseph Kony, who is believed to be in his early 50s, is head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerrilla group accused of widespread atrocities.  Although he initially enjoyed strong public support, the LRA turned on its own supporters, allegedly wanting to turn Uganda into a theocracy.  Kony claims that he is the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Holy Spirit, which the group believes can represent itself in multiple manifestations.  In 2005, Kony was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, but has not yet been captured.

The film immediately spread virally on the internet. As of March 12, 2012, the film had more than 74 million views on video-sharing website YouTube and more than 16.6 million views on Vimeo, with other viewing coming from a “Kony2012″ website operated by Invisible Children.  The forceful exposure of the video caused the Kony 2012 website to crash shortly after it began gaining widespread popularity.

But, there appear to be problems with Invisible Children that call into question how much of “Kony 2012” should be believed.  According to The Daily What website, the organization behind Kony 2012 — Invisible Children Inc. — is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ‘misleading,’ ‘naive,’ and ‘dangerous’ by a Yale political science professor, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of ‘manipulating facts for strategic purposes.’  They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards.  Additionally, IC has a low two-star rating in accountability from Charity Navigator because they won’t let their financials be independently audited.

“By IC’s own admission, only 31 percent of all the funds they receive go toward actually helping anyone.  The rest go to line the pockets of the three people in charge of the organization, to pay for their travel expenses (over $1 million in the last year alone) and to fund their filmmaking business (also over a million).

Writing for the Atlantic Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos notes that the Invisible Children’s organization’s financials are questionable, with most of their money stashed in a tax-free bank in the Cayman Islands.  According to Visible Children, an anti-Invisible blog, the company spent only 33 percent of its $8 million-plus in spending on ‘direct services.’

Not surprisingly, Invisible Children is fighting back. On a video on the group’s website, Chief Executive Ben Keesey described his group’s finances, saying that more than 80 percent of funding is spent on program costs out in the field, and emphasized that most funds were spent through partner organizations in northern Uganda and the northeast Democratic Republic of Congo.  He also said that the group, which has launched the most viral YouTube video campaign in history, is dedicated to bringing warlord Joseph Kony to justice.  “I understand why a lot of people are wondering, ‘Is this just some slick, kind of fly-by-night, slacktivist thing?’ when actually it’s not at all,” Keesey said in Invisible Children’s response video.  “It’s connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign.”

“Any claims that we don’t have financial transparency, or that we’re not audited every year by an independent firm, or that we don’t have financial integrity, just aren’t true,” Keesey said.

“I understand because for many people they just learned about Invisible Children a couple of days ago through the Joseph Kony 2012 movie, according to Keesey.  “If all you see is the 29 minute movie and then you try to go to our website and it doesn’t exist because the traffic crashed it.  So you’re not seeing any information about our programs, you’re not understanding that this has been going on for a long time,” Keesey said.  The “goal has always been the same, it’s always been one thing and that’s to stop the violence of the LRA permanently and help restore the war-affected communities”.

Google+ Off to a Good Start – Will It Last?

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Just one month into its launch, Google+ has seen extraordinary growth, netting some 20 million unique visitors.  Still, it faces several key challenges before it can become the dominant force in social media.  Online metrics company ComScore said that of the 20 million users, five million of those are from the United States.  “Google+ is on an unprecedented growth trajectory over its first three weeks, reaching 20 million visitors faster than any site in recent memory,” Comscore Vice President Andrew Lipsman said.  The estimate comes a week after Google CEO Larry Page said that the company already had accumulated 10 million registered users. While registered users and unique visitors are not necessarily the same thing, that growth has been nothing short of impressive.

While the rate of growth is unparalleled, the social network is still small when compared with its rivals such as Facebook and Twitter, which have 750 million and 200 million registered users, respectively.  Google+’s success will depend on how Google “converts this strong trial base into regular users,” Lipsman warned.  While competitors Facebook and Twitter have become online destinations in themselves; more than 50 percent of traffic coming to Google+ is initiated by visits to Google or Gmail, according to Experian HitWise.  YouTube is a significant referrer.

Writing on the DVice website, Raymond Wong says that “Google+, the new guy on the social networking scene isn’t doing too bad.  After Google CEO Larry Page announced last week that Google+ had 10 million users in a mere two weeks, it appears they’ve added another 10 million users.  Talk about being the hottest thing in town.  People said that Google couldn’t build a social network that anybody would give two cents about, but somehow they’ve managed to do just that.  According to an independent comScore report, the new Google+ social network has hit 20 million unique visitors in three weeks.  Some have called Google+ a Facebook rip-off.  Some have joined simply to see what the buzz is all about, much like how everybody started Google and for a brief moment in time and then disappeared into oblivion. For now, none of that matters.  Google+ is gaining more users everyday, and Google is sure to be super excited by all the signups.”

So while we have a lot of work still to do, we are really excited about our progress with Google+,” Page said, noting that Google will re-focus on its core products and on new innovations.  “Google+ is also a great example of another focus of mine — beautiful products that are simple and intuitive to use and was actually was one of the first products to contain our new visual redesign.”  Google+ isn’t Google’s first expedition into the world of social media and its excitement over having 20 million Google+ users may be early.  Google introduced Google Buzz in February 2010 and immediately saw user numbers swell; it was later panned.

Reports are that Google will, unlike Facebook, host games on its own servers — this could make them faster and less prone to glitches.  The Google+ code mentions a gaming platform, and the company has reportedly invested as much as $200 million in the leading social gaming company Zynga.  There has been no official announcement about if and when the Google game platform will launch or how it will be designed.

Facebook is still beating Google+ in time spent on a social network.  HitWise research director Heather Dougherty said the average visit time for Google+ is five minutes and 50 seconds, compared with almost 22 minutes on Facebook.  Dougherty also examined how users arrived at Google+.  Google.com (at 34 percent) and Gmail (at 26 percent) account for 50 percent of all traffic to Google+; another six percent come from YouTube and Google Profiles.  Facebook ranked third among websites visited immediately prior to Google+, an indication that many social-network users have multiple accounts.  Google+ ranks as the 42nd most visited social networking site in the United States, and was the 638th most visited website.  Broken down by region, most of Google+ visitors are from Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco (in descending order).

Facebook May Breach the Great Firewall of China

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Social networking could gain 1.3 billion new users if a deal goes through that will introduce Facebook to ChinaFacebook Inc. has signed an agreement with Baidu, Inc.  a search engine company, to create a social-networking website in China.  “We are currently studying and learning about China, as part of evaluating any possible approaches that could benefit our users, developers and advertisers,” Palo Alto, CA- based Facebook said.

The arrangement follows several recent meetings in China between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Baidu CEO Robin Li.  The Baidu website would not be incorporated with Facebook’s international service, and a potential launch date is “not confirmed.”  Facebook said it is “currently studying and learning about China, as part of evaluating any possible approaches that could benefit our users, developers and advertisers.”  By entering the Chinese market, where the world’s most popular social-networking service is currently banned, Facebook would gain access to the nation’s nearly 500 million Internet users.

According to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry of MSNBC Business Insider, “The deal makes sense for both sides. On Facebook’s side, it needs a big local partner to break into the huge Chinese market. On Baidu’s side, it is threatened by social network juggernaut Tencent, and it might be a safer bet to build a social network with one of the most successful social companies in the world than to try to build its own.”

Baidu, which is China’s largest search engine, wants to provide more social networking opportunities in China.  The impediment has been the Chinese State, which owns the “Great Firewall of China” and has blocked sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Google removed its search engine last year.

Writing on the website Digital Trend, Molly McHugh is curious about how Facebook can compete if it enters the Chinese market.  “Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, when riots in the country’s Xinjiang region led to severe crackdowns on Internet use.  Since then, statements from Chinese officials and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have hinted at the possibility of cooperation between the two, if a compromise between the nation’s overbearing censorship and Facebook’s ‘openness’ can be reached.  Now it looks as though something is going on.  What exactly that may be is still up in the air, but numerous reports say Facebook is working with China to come up with a solution.

“According to Marbridge Consulting, as well as a few blogs,” according to McHugh, “a post on Sina Weibo from Hu Yan Ping, the founder of a Chinese market research firm claims that Facebook will be collaborating with Baidu to build an entirely new social networking site.  Ping wrote, ‘Facebook really is about to enter China, the agreement is signed.  A domestic website will work with Facebook to create a new site.  This new site is not interlinked with Facebook.com.  The question is, will this live or die in China?’”

Young Entrepreneur Responds to Recession

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Young Entrepreneur Responds to RecessionJason Sadler, a 26-year-old former marketing professional from Florida has resolved his unemployment woes  by founding his own companyI Wear Your Shirt.  The entrepreneurial concept is simple.  Sadler wears a T-shirt provided by any company for a day and uses social media tools to promote the firm.  And it’s earning Sadler nearly $85,000 this year.

The cost for Sadler’s service is the face value of the day.  On January 1, he charges just $1; that rises to $365 by December 31.  All 2009 dates are taken, and Sadler’s 2010 calendar is rapidly filling up with companies who want to take advantage of his promotional expertise.

If Sadler sells out every day – as he did in 2009 – iwearyourshirt earns $66,795 a year.  He also sells monthly sponsorships for $1,500, which adds an additional $18,000.  “I walk around, take photos, wear the shirt all day…I blog about those photos.  I put ‘em up on Twitter, I change my Facebook profile…and then I do a Youtube video,” Sadler said.

Sadler’s success is such that he plans to grow his business.  He wants to hire someone on the West Coast to expand iwearyourshirt.com’s exposure.  Once he is able to offer coverage on both coasts, Sadler is doubling his rates.