Meme [meem] noun: A cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
Officially, this term was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, but today it has evolved to mean so much more. Basically, a meme is an idea that can replicate and evolve, which is the very essence of the Internet. According to the Rules of the Internet (Rule number 24): “Every repost is always a repost of a repost”.
In an Internet environment that both celebrates and destroys originality, memes thrive, becoming trending social shares at any given point. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Internet memes, let me introduce you.
I will quickly outline two of the multiple different types of memes for the purposes of understanding the rest of this article. The first type is called “caption pictures” where you take an image and insert an appropriate caption that reflects the original theme of the meme. In this case, this picture is a screenshot from the 1971 movie, “Willa Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” where Wonka asks the children if they would like to see the new candy called “The Everlasting Gobstopper.” In 2011, an Internet user posted the following picture with the additional text.
The meme blew up and people began captioning it left and right. It is interesting because while people may have nostalgic memory attached to this image, being able to recognize it from a classic movie, it now has an altered meaning of Willy Wonka being condescending. Many people who now see this image won’t think of the movie, but instead of a condescending Wonka.
The second type of memes is called “rage comics.” These comics have their origins deep in Reddit and with 4chan. They are basic graphics drawn using MS paint. There is now a whole website dedicated to creating these sorts of comics, making it even more accessible for people to access. Below is an example.
So what does any of this have to do with anything especially, when it comes to marketing and advertising on Facebook? Check out a Condescending Wonka I created a couple of months ago and shared on Facebook. Chris Smith found it and re-shared on his Facebook.
Some interesting stats: This cost me $0 to make and about 15 seconds to create and share. As a result, 116 people liked it with 33 re-shares onto different pages, and who knows how many people liked it and shared it from there.
Traditional advertising dictates that memes are not how a business wants to be portrayed. However viral Internet sensations don’t happen because they’re safe. Folks who are looking to get cheap, easy marketing are starting to recognize that these strategies work just for the fact that there is social sharing potential.
Finally, this is where my inspiration for this post came from. I signed onto my Facebook this morning expecting to discover the usual type of ads I get on the right-hand side, but I noticed a meme from Reese’s Puffs Cereal.
I clicked it.
If any of you know me at all, I NEVER click on Facebook ads, but because I recognized the meme, it caught my attention, and Reese’s now got their click from me. I’m even tempted to like their page to see what else they come up with.
It’s an interesting trend, but not necessarily a new trend. As agents, you’ve heard how important it is to create a flow of content in order to share on social media. The equation usually stands at Good Content + Social Sharing = Viral Marketing. If your’ Good Content’ variable is a cheap and easy meme, why wouldn’t you do it?
As far as I know, there haven’t really been any real estate memes, but I could see the potential for it. However, before you decide to experiment with memes, you need to understand that memes from purely a marketing perspective will not work. Memes work best when you’re tackling a topic from an interesting view point, not trying to sell yourself or a product.
The meme done to promote “Men in Black” is obviously not as clever or as funny as some of the memes I used above and is an example of an incorrectly done, marketing meme.
So how can you, as a small business owner (or real estate agent) who is already active on Social Media utilize memes? One great example to look at is Jason Van Steenwyk, a writer for the RealEstate.com blog. He came out with his own clever version of a meme to get his name out there on Google+.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the GREAT caption contests ActiveRain runs so why not use those photos for a meme? Always remember, that it’s not just about marketing yourself, but creating likeable, shareable content that can be traced back to you.
Photo and caption courtesy of ActiveRain’s Facebook page.
In short, keep an open mind when it comes to Internet memes. They can be used as viral social media content plays to get you exposure. While it is important to worry about maintaining a professional image, you first need people seeing you.
Get started making your own meme: http://memebase.com/memes/
Definition of a meme: http://thedailymeme.com/what-is-a-meme/
Rules of the Internet: http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/30662
History of “Condescending Wonka”: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/condescending-wonka-creepy-wonka
History of “Rage Comics”: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/rage-comics