What kind of Social “Memeticist” are you: Deliverer or Creator?
Memes, defined as “cultural items that are transmitted by repetition,” have been around for centuries, but the rise of social media has made it possible for them to be global in seconds, accessible to all and able to rise and fall as quickly as they came. So which type of “Memeticist” are you? A “Deliverer,” a Word-of-Mouth agent that spreads them to the next consumer, or a “Creator,” an author with trend-spotting superpowers and a finger on the cultural pulse? The short answer should be both.
The world actually needs both to create situations of memetic success. Content creates memes and it needs deliverers with social influence to pass those memes to the right people. Sometimes it spreads like wildfire; sometimes it takes more time. As much as it seems that Justin Bieber became an overnight success, the hard work he put in in the few short years before his video was discovered on YouTube by the right pair of eyeballs – his “Meme Creator” – was unknown (at least until the movie came out). Content worth spreading easily finds deliverers, even if it takes years.
Regardless of the ever-growing ways to deliver memes – tweets, likes, and share this, to name a few – we have to look at what makes up the DNA of successful memes in order to be successful with our own. Here are a few tricks I use as a Memeticist:
1) Meme mapping What any good meme needs to find its deliverers is a simple “hub and spoke” model. Where will your meme be housed, and how will it be shared out to many channels? It seems simple, but it’s often overlooked; there are many epicenters (or hubs) of content out there missing spokes, as well as many social outlets (spokes) missing hubs to bring people back again and again.
2) Go visual Pinterest has grown by leaps and bounds because people by nature are visual. In fact, the most shares and reshares across the socialsphere are pictures, infographics, and humorous visual sayings. Sometimes it’s a graphic still shot of a news piece on CNN that compels us to deliver it to our own circle on our social networks, or something as small as an interesting Twitter profile pic that makes us click. Let your eyes be the gateway to your emotional reaction.
3) Lighten up Have you ever noticed that most people respond on Facebook to posts that are more personal than professional? Showing your personal side – better yet, your sense of humor – goes a long way to humanizing your company or product. After all, we buy from our hearts most of the time, not our heads. (By the way, the same works for dating… it’s proven that a killer sense of humor trumps mediocre looks any day! Ask my wife.)
4) Act like a toddler It’s been a while since my kids were toddlers, but something I’ll never forget is their incessant need to ask, “Why?” It was a question and an answer and often aggravating, but always successful, at least in getting my attention. Some of the best memes are questions. Why are we here? Where did we come from? Why does Donald Trump wear his hair like that? If you are always questioning yourself, a product, service, or company, a meme could be born. My good friend, Phil McKinney, recently CTO of HP and innovation guru, will tell you that innovation happens from exercising your brain by asking killer questions, and always asking, “Why?”
5) Think organic All memes have seeds, and like plants, how healthy they grow depends on your experience and knowledge of having done it before. For successful memes, seeds need to be planted to bear fruit for the right audience that shares a taste for that fruit. Although often times it seems like an accident, most organic growth happens from planting the right seeds in the right soil at the right time.
Key takeaway: With all the curated content in the world, not everything will reach cultural status. But as a Deliverer and Curator of Memes, recognize the seed in the content that speaks the loudest to you, and question why it says the right thing at the right time that compels you to share it with your friends. Try to put humor, personality and love into your own memes, and use your learning, practice and courage to put them in the right places. You never know…it just might become the next overnight success.
This was originally posted on the IBM Smarter Commerce blog