First, for those of you who may have been too busy actually working or experiencing things IRL (in real life) this year to study-up on your social media terminology...
A meme used to be simply an idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from one person to another in a culture.
More recently, it refers to an amusing or interesting picture or video that spreads widely throughout the Internet.
I just came across this article, highlighting some of the most viral memes of the year. It got me thinking about the evolution of sharing.
Here Today...Gone in About Five Minutes
We’ve always shared things among our co-workers and friends that amused, educated, or challenged us. Remember the days of knock-knock jokes? Or the spread of the urban legend around the Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe? I was happy to see the Rubik’s Cube trend die down. (I suffered severe anxiety whenever one was passed to me.)
The media has changed and the speed with which these viruses come and go has accelerated. This list of top viral videos is two years old, and most of them probably don’t even register in your conscious memory.
The Wisdom of the Purple Dinosaur
In the words of Barney the Dinosaur, “Sharing means caring.” The desire to share weird, funny, provocative, and challenging things and experiences with friends and colleagues is timeless. It connects us even when we’re too busy or distracted to make phone calls.
Some of my online friends love to share motivational memes and others share useful facts and trends. People are sort of obsessed with sharing on Instagram these days and it’s been downloaded more than a billion times on Google Play. On an average day, more than 80 million photos are shared and ironically National Geographic (a “traditional” brand) is the most followed user on Instagram today. The need to see beautiful things from around the globe (well photographed!) is a powerful one. Sharing allows us to explore new places — literally and metaphorically.
Although Instagram has skewed younger, like all social media, its average user is aging, so brand marketers should follow the trends (as well as Snap) in 2017. (I’m sharing my marketing predictions here, in case you didn’t pick up on that.)
Sharing can also help fund charity projects, help a founder get her business off the ground, or help someone find a job or do his current job better.
As you go about your work week, think about what you’re sharing. Do your part in making someone else smarter, richer, happier, healthier or more hopeful. Although my marketing and business musings may never travel as far as the Dress or Gangnam Style, I’d rather be targeted than viral most of the time. So, please feel free to share!