Back in April, a few of us attended the quasi-yearly celebration of all-things internet known as ROFLcon. Picture what would happen if everything funny or weird you ever saw or heard about on the internet decided to show up at one place and talk about everything funny or weird you ever saw or heard about on the internet; that's ROFLcon. And while this isn't meant to be a summary of ROFLcon - because that would be dated and lame - it is meant to be a preface to the world of memes.
Internet memes can be videos, images, websites, stories, or just plain old jokes. They're ideas that are spread around the internet.
The idea of memes has been in existence long before the internet. Religious beliefs are essentially memes in that they're spreading cultural ideas or practices. So while memes don't have to be on the internet - the 'Where's the beef'? lady was a meme long before Al Gore even invented the web - they have certainly found their place on it.
So how do you make one? Well, this may not lead to internet gold, but here are 5 ways to help you on your journey.
Step 1: First off, don't call it viral until it's viral'?¦ and even then, don't call it viral
Nothing is more off-putting than someone asking you to create, or telling someone that you're planning to make a viral video. I once saw a vendor presentation that said one of their capabilities was viral videos. Really? Let's be straight here, YOU do not create a viral video. The thousands of people watching, commenting and sharing the video do. That's more of a pet peeve than a key to success. Okay, here we go; the 4 keys to creating an internet meme.
Step 1: Be funny, absurd, or shocking'?¦and if you can't, include an old person, baby, or cute animal
I don't have the stats here, but out of the millions of non-adult videos, and photos on the internet, let's assume that 1% are popular enough to reach 'meme'? status. Can we agree that a large portion of those are overwhelmingly funny, absurd, shocking, have an old person, baby or cute animal? Let's.
Step 2: Don't try too hard'?¦in fact, don't really try at all
Most of the stories you hear about internet memes start with 'I was just making something for my friends'?. Most memes don't intend to be memes, they just sort of happen. This is where many brands and agencies fall short. They try too hard to be cool and different, or try too hard to make money. If you lose that organic and genuine feel, you lose the impact.
Step 3: Encourage participation
One of my favorite memes, Archaic Rap, mostly reached meme status because it's really fun to create them on your own. People love showing other people how funny/creative/knowledgeable about hip-hop lyrics they are, and this one gives them a chance to. The idea of in-jokes and obscure pop culture references are perfect cultivators for memes because people like to show others that they 'get'? them.
Step 4: Get it to the influencers
Video's up on YouTube? Done! Not so much. Successful branded content usually has a PR or social push behind it to get it into the right influencer hands to ensure it spreads. Unbranded user content usually has a similar approach, though it's usually unplanned. Send it to the right people, and it will spread. You'll be surprised how big Aunt Milly's online network is when babies or cute animals are involved.
So that's it. I think we can expect the percentage of good content on the internet to explode after people read this post. In the event you're now inspired to create your own meme, I suggest you visit the folks over at KnowYourMeme.com who have done a great job cataloguing and studying memes from around the internet. It will be a good starting point to get into the psyche of the internet to determine if you have the ability to create the next great meme.