First used in 1976 by Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins to describe “the basic unit of cultural transmission that passes from one mind to another,” a meme (rhymes with dream) instantly communicates a complete idea. There are many examples of memes in our everyday life. In his book, “Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants: Breakthrough Tactics for Winning Profitable Clients,” best-selling author Jay Conrad Levinson points out some familiar memes: the Red Cross, the Hitchhiker’s thumb, and one of the most recognized memes around the world, the Nike swoosh.
On the internet however, a meme has a slightly different meaning. Internet memes, as used by bloggers, are a series of questions answered or insights discovered that are shared in a post that pass virally from one blog to another.
Why do bloggers meme?
In a word, visitors. Whatever you call it, word-of-mouth marketing, buzz or backlinks, bloggers participate in memes to get visitors to their blogs. The fact of the matter is, just because you write a blog post, there’s no guarantee that someone will read it. You have to let them know that you’re out there. And a creative meme is a fun way to get visitors to your blog.
Some other benefits of writing an internet meme are that a meme will help to brand you as an expert in your niche, you’ll build relationships with both your readers and fellow bloggers and by sharing valuable information with your readers you strengthen their loyalty to your blog.
What are the rules of a meme?
The rules for internet memes vary, but they usually include some variation of the following: write a short introduction about who tagged you and the meme – always linking to the person who tagged you, post the meme rules on your blog, answer the questions or share your insights, tag several other people at the end of your post and let them know that you tagged them in a comment on their blog.
Also, your meme should target your particular niche. You wouldn’t have a favorite recipe meme on an automotive blog. Likewise, don’t tag blogs that are outside of your niche.
Keep your meme short. Five to seven questions, facts, insights, etc., is probably ideal for an internet meme. If you make your meme too long, you run the risk of other bloggers not participating. If you make it too short, the quality of information you’re sharing will not benefit your readers and other bloggers will ignore your tagging attempts. Either way, too short or too long, you will not generate visitors to your blog. By taking 30 to 60 minutes to develop several questions and answers to frequently asked question — or insights you’d like to share — in your niche and locating and tagging 5 to 7 fellow bloggers, you can get a steady stream of visitors to your blog.