This above is a picture of Gene Wilder from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie produced in 1971. The picture has now been dubbed Condescending Wonka and has established itself as one of the most popular memes online.
Somebody somewhere decided to grab a photo of Wilder from the movie giving a perfectly sarcastic face. The result has been an onslaught of hilarious and sometimes insulting phrases popping up in every corner of the Internet. Anybody can create them on sites across the net.
The way that the meme works is that a sarcastic rhetorical question is posed at the top and the witty response is placed at the bottom. Here’s an example:
The word meme comes from the Greek word mimeme and was originally coined by Richard Dawkins in the Selfish Gene. The term has now become synonymous with social transmission. Memes are inherently viral, I’m sure you can find some gems with one click onto your Facebook account.
Memes have a way of finding their intended audience. The example I showed above would not be of much interest to somebody interested in aerospace engineering. According to the PEW Research Center 15% of social media users created their own posts daily online while 22% reported commenting on another post or status in 2010. 1 It isn’t a stretch then to argue that creating messages which others will want to share is important because they aren’t comfortable creating the message themselves. And nobody shares what he or she might one day be interested in.
In the example above a fitness fanatic may not be comfortable boasting that they workout. Sharing this picture is a softer way for them to self-represent. That’s the major reason why memes are so viral. Memes can also be annoying and not something you should base your business model off of. I used them as an example. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
Your thinking is not unique
My guess is that you have competitors. Somebody somewhere out there is producing a similar product to you or offering a similar service. Maybe you’re different and you’re better or maybe not. I’m not here to judge.
What I will tell you is that you are probably not inventing – you are innovating. If you’re reason for doing what you do is purely financial then stop reading now, I can’t help you. You don’t have to love your product but you must love the perceived benefits that your product brings.
For arguments sake let’s say that your product or service is innovative. Nobody has done what you’re doing before and you have discovered a way to service an industry better than they have been serviced before. What’s most important is that the industry already exists and understanding everything about that industry is paramount to your success.
All of this is positive
Your success lies in your ability to find people who think the same way as you. If nobody thought the way you do then you wouldn’t have a chance of getting your material shared.
A social network is comprised of the users trust circle. The group members are the most important people in that users life. Imagine a social network like a party with all of your closest friends, family members, relatives, and acquaintances. Now mix this party with a high school reunion happening ON THE SAME NIGHT. I bet you want nothing more than to make the same people jealous that picked on you all those years back.
So instead of being yourself you decide to clean up a bit, go for a haircut, buy a new shirt, and finally dapple on some of that cologne you bought a year ago.
What you have done is create an image of yourself to these people whose opinions matter to you. You are attempting to make them perceive you in a favorable light by playing up what you consider to be your good attributes.
This is what happens online every minute of every day. Our social networks have brought the people who we consider to be the most important to us into our every day lives. We choose what they see. It’s as if you’re constantly at a party with your closest friends and people from your high school all day long.
The major difference is that the transmission medium is asynchronous so we have time to think about what how our actions will be perceived. If we feel that sending around a condescending Wonka meme about fitness will show that we are fit and therefore attractive we share it. If the meme is about aerospace engineering and it has nothing to do with us we’ll ignore it and not give it a second thought.
Who Will Share Your Material?
They may not be your customers; in fact I’d be willing to bet some of them are your competitors. In order to get your message to spread you must appeal to the already converted.
A major theme of this book is that people selectively self-represent online. They show off what they are proud of. The medium is perfect for it. It allows for asynchronous communication, people only see what we allow them to see, and you have probably been developing your list or trust circle for years already.
For proof look at the preface that people write when they share a picture or an article. It’s never “I didn’t know this, how interesting”. Instead it’s usually something like “listen up everybody, this is great information”. The person sharing the material is showing off what they already know.
Few are interested in adding to the conversation. Most are interested as using the material to support and show off their own viewpoints.
This is nothing new. Cognitive dissonance explains that people reduce the value of things that don’t add to their existing belief system while increasing the value of those that add to it.
The difference is that this happens in a new medium, social media. The medium is cheap and accessible to everybody. And with a little thought anybody in the world can be accessed with the click of a mouse.
The nice part about all this is that it’s mindless. Social media is a place where we go to shut off our brains. We do this late at night when we don’t feel like reading or watching TV or when the work day drags on.
I put up a wall everyday trying as hard as I can to ignore advertisements. I think everybody everywhere is trying to sell me something. Signs in front of stores are ignored, radio ads are tuned out, TV commercials are skipped, and even banner ads on websites hardly get looked at anymore. Everything in me works to ignore ads. The minute I sniff out a marketer I run the other way attempting valiantly to avoid getting tricked.
Social media is different. Users go there to turn off their brains. Never before has the most powerful marketing medium on the planet a place where consumers relax and let their sub-conscious take over.
After a long day of expending brainpower to tune off marketing messages they can finally relax, it’s just them and their closest friends online. Here they can be as voyeuristic as they like without worrying what others think. They can show appreciation without any effort by “liking” a status from a friend, they can develop relationships by commenting on a status, and they can even support their friends by “sharing” their pages.
It’s a time to relax and unwind. Most users don’t know that this is where most of today’s marketing takes place. Not all people share material. In fact few do.
If you assess the people in your social media circles I’m sure you can identify 5 or so people that seem to share everything.
These are your targets.
It’s taboo for most to share every aspect of their lives online. The ones that do are over-represented in the feed and undeniably hold significant marketing clout.
While your friend group on your Facebook account might not be your target market you can use it as an example for how the system works. Understand that in an industry there are influencers, there are mavens, and there are road builders.
The Influencers are the big shots. These are the men and women in your industry that you can name off the top of your head. For whatever reason they have become experts. Their Facebook pages are large and powerful and you will be lucky to get an email responded by them. Ignore them for now. By the end of this book you will see how to get these people approaching you instead of you begging them for attention.
The Mavens are an interesting breed and can fall into either of the other two categories but I choose to give them their own. These are the people who are listened to. They might be important and might not. What matters is that when they recommend something people listen. They are networkers and collect friends like I used to collect Ken Griffey Jr. baseball cards. The importance of mavens varies from industry to industry. Their value decreases online as the connections are already built and the road builders are more important.
The Road Builders are your targets. These are people that are worth their weight in gold. In every industry there exists a small select group of people that are passionate about your product or service. They live and breathe what you sell and feel as if it is a part of them. They share material rabidly.
Your first step is to find those that build the roads to connect your industry. Then it’s time to find the people behind the influencers, their second in command. I’ll show you how. It’s time to get deeper into Viralnomics.
Part 2 of chapter 2 features the specific steps you need to take using resources that are free and available to you to find the people who will share your material. Put your email in the box below to be notified when it’s released and to be the first to know when I release any next sections.