Friday, August 23, 2013

To Meme or Not To Meme... (is Meme a verb?)

Who knows what a meme is?  (who knows how to pronounce "meme"?)

Meme is pronounced "meem" (with a long "eeeee" sound).  It a a noun and it is defined as:

"an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture"

In centuries past, it would take decades, maybe centuries for a meme to take effect on a cultural scale.  Today with the internet (and social media in-particular), memes have the ability to spread ideas, styles and behaviours within days - sometimes hours.  I find this fascinating.
This was a meme.
(I had one on my wall when I was 10)

In a "2-click" culture (by that I mean anything more than 2 mouse clicks away is likely not to get viewed), memes have become an uber popular form of communication.  They are the proverbial "Hang In There" kitten posters.

I started using memes at work to introduce coworkers to Google Apps for Business when we "went Google".  Everyone was nervous about the change but people weren't talking about it - they were grumbling to themselves and unknowingly creating an atmosphere of tension leading up to an inevitable upgrade.  The memes created a bit of lightness and laughter in an atmosphere taught with apprehension.

Each day a new meme was emailed out highlighting a positive feature of Google Apps (Gmail mostly). The responses I received were very positive - people looked forward to opening the emails each day.  They got people talking about what worried them most, they realized they weren't the only ones concerned about potential difficulties, and everyone felt warm and fuzzy inside  :) ... well, at least they were able to acknowledge that some features of Google Apps were cool (this I consider a successful campaign).

(Note: These aren't the memes I used for work, but they will do for this demonstration).  

By changing the image to match your intended meaning, you are able to (hopefully) influence how your message is perceived and taken:
IT response (excited!) 
(staff response: I'm too old for this)
(desired overall response: I know it's hard, but think of the possibilities)

Bringing this concept home might work great with your kids (or it might make you seem more dorkie - but at least your message will be read and more than likely thought about):

Teenager wants a new iPhone after losing/breaking one?  If they've seen Lord of the Rings email them this:

(message: you have to work for it; emotion: I'm frustrated and annoyed)

Kids need to tidy their rooms?  Print this out and hang it on their door:

Thousands of ideas at your fingertips limited only by your imagination. 

I used to create the memes on this post.  I personally like for it's simplicity and ease of use.  There are LOTS of sites out there, some (like allow you to upload your own image (my kids are such hams in from of the camera I've got too many to choose from).  Just make sure you're aware of the permission rights when you upload personal pictures - some sites might automatically require you to let others use your images... but who knows - your pet might be the next "Grumpy Cat".

(my cat, Calvin)

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