Marketers seek to make change happen. A tool they’ll use to achieve change is spreading the word.
With the internet as one of the fastest mediums to spread the word, it’s easy to become confused about how far and fast the word should spread.
The measurement units used are views, likes, and sharing. Rarely impact.
The scale with which people compare their work goes beyond the 42 million views of Brené Brown’s TEDxHouston talk on the TED website. And there are way more views as another 11 million views on YouTube show.
Take for example the most popular video of all times. It has more than 3 billion views on YouTube. Pictures of cats continue to outperform that video as a list of most popular meme shows.
The reason meme spread is that they find ways to grab people’s attention quickly. But even among meme’s, there is a hierarchy that puts humor and shock value curiosities at the top of the list, relaying deeper content to the end of the list.
Views, likes, and shares don’t create change. The outcome most of these memes achieve is restricted to have grabbed people’s attention. The number of people taking action based on the meme remains restricted. Part of it is that meme don’t ask for a change.
Take for example this meme a friend I received from a friend. It comes in French and English and states that the notice can now be found in French churches:
En entrant dans cette église, il est possible que vous entendiez l’appel de Dieu.
Par contre, il n’est pas susceptible de vous contacter par téléphone.
Merci d’avoir éteint votre téléphone.
Si vous souhaitez parler à Dieu, entrez, choisissez un endroit tranquille et parlez-lui.
Si vous souhaitez le voir, envoyez-lui un SMS en conduisant.
It is possible that on entering this church, you may hear the Call of God.
On the other hand, it is not likely that he will contact you by phone.
Thank you for turning off your phone.
If you would like to talk to God, come in, choose a quiet place, and talk to him.
If you would like to see him, send him a text while driving.
The text contains a brilliant approach to describe people’s usage of phones in different circumstances with the right note of humor. And yet it still has to spread to French churches.
Researching the origin of this idea I could almost only find it on English speaking websites where it was filed under humor.
Spread is also restricted by language, culture, and interest. Checking the list of the most popular websites for example I quickly found some I had never heard of. Knowing them now doesn’t help as I either can’t use them, don’t want to use them or have found better solutions.
Memes are an interesting social phenomenon. The way they spread the word often prevents them from making change happen. It’s not what they are for.