Unless you were living under a rock last week, you probably heard about Kony 2012.  Mobile phones pushed view counts of the cleverly produced video while it surfed walls and timelines — mainstream media gave it more exposure on the nightly news. If you were under said rock:


This post isn’t about the video origins, how it went viral, or the backlash that is going on now. What we aim to do is take a look at the raw numbers. The social media takeaway was that this was a viral video in the truest sense – racking up 100 million views faster than Susan Boyle, Rebecca Black; you too Sneezing Panda. These numbers are astounding and can truly be appreciated if you have ever been with a client who wants to “will” a video to go viral and understand how difficult it is to get views.

We love the “Show Statistics” button YouTube installed several years ago. It gives a fascinating view into how a video went viral. Here is where the views came from in descending order:

Date Event Views
03/05/12 First view from a mobile device 25,513,835
03/05/12 First embedded on – facebook.com 9,490,097
03/05/12 First referral from – facebook.com 7,591,761
03/05/12 First referral from YouTube search – kony 2012 5,660,192
03/05/12 First referral from a subscriber module 2,410,994
03/05/12 First referral from YouTube search – kony 1,510,590
03/05/12 First referral from – twitter.com 1,218,884
03/05/12 First referral from related video – KONY 2012 278,548

What do these numbers say? That as of RIGHT NOW mobile and Facebook are more important than ever. The mobile viewers eclipsed all the other categories. It just reinforces what Apple said at the recent iPad launch that we are living in a post-pc world. The numbers also showed that when it comes to Social Media, Facebook is still the king. With 9.5 million views through Facebook embeds and 7 million views referred from Facebook, the social media giant may deserve every cent of that rumored 100 Billion dollar IPO evaluation.

While Facebook is sailing high, the KONY numbers paint a different story for Twitter. Coming in at a distant 1.2 million views it proves something we have been wondering ourselves. The theory that the user audience of Twitter is more sophisticated and elite than on Facebook (Media figures, Actors, Great Thinkers, Pop Stars) which paints Twitter out to be more than it really is. Just because Twitter declares something a Worldwide Trending Topic does it actually mean it is? One can think of Facebook like “the silent majority” where as Twitter is the loud and brash segment which is just that — a lot of noise.

This is a more complicated question for another blog – and though we admit that we don’t know how many of those mobile viewers were referred from Twitter. It’d be interesting to see what those results are. In the meantime, check out how KONY blew away the other videos as the fastest to 100 million views:

This chart is not from a company called Invisible Measures.

-Andy, TGPR