It happened yet again. Facebook saw yet another meme apparently meant to promote ‘Breast Cancer Awareness‘. When I logged into Facebook day before yesterday I was unpleasantly surprised to see some female friends put statuses like these
If you are a regular user of Facebook you might remember a similar meme that surfaced earlier this year. While this meme is apparently all about places where women would like to keep their *purse* and not where they’d like to *do it*, the last meme was about women sharing their *Bra Colour*. I’ll not get into the discuss if such memes actually help spread awareness about Breast Cancer or not but what interests me more is the the “how & why” of these memes.
One of the first Memes I encountered was during my early days of Blogging a few years back was probably “10 things you don’t know about me” or something similar. The sheer fact that a trend needs to grow viral in order to become a meme is an interesting thing and it is worth exploring what makes a meme a meme.
A meme is in a lot of ways like a viral (forward) email/sms as it has the essential elements required to sustain and grow itself. Going back to the ‘Made To Stick’ check list for an idea to spread, a meme should also have certain features for it to go viral. Ideally a meme should be
- Simple (To ensure maximum participation. For ex: Colour of your Bra, Name of your first Crush)
- Unexpected (One of the parameters for a meme is also how unexpected/weird/double meaning/out-of-the-ordinary it is. For ex: Where would you like to “whatever”)
- Emotional (It should be able to elicit a connect emotionally. For ex: 10 Things you didn’t know about me, 5 Things I can’t live without etc)
- Direct/In-direct call to action(A direct call like tagging people to do the same on their page/blog etc or an in-direct call to join them in the cause as in the case of Bra Colour meme)
Memes are a win-win situation for most users and the platforms(or the causes?) they spread in with users getting something different to talk/show off and the platform seeing more activity. However as someone interested in marketing I wonder if brands can leverage the meme phenomenon. Your thoughts?