iPhone. Bacn. Chocolate Rain. LOLcats. Copybot. Bum Rush the Charts. Lonelygirl15. What do all these have to do with each other?
They’re all “viral” memes – high speed, high attention, sticky microcontent that spread like wildfire in various online communities. Just a mere mention of them on a blog can, if caught early enough, drive a tremendous amount of traffic to a blog, podcast, or web site, simply by virtue of obtaining good placement in early search results.
Right now, it’s kind of a free-for-all in online memes. Things appear and disappear like so many flashes in the pan, but if you can time the meme market just right, you can ride the waves of attention like a surfer, as Justin Kownacki pointed out about the city of Pittsburgh and its two recent hits.
How, though, do you make use of this? Enter a career of the near future: meme jumper. Working in concert with a Community Developer, a meme jumper is the person who coordinates tying content and products into relevant memes and promotions.
Case study: Virtual Thirst, the Coke campaign conducted by Crayon New Marketing. As a contributor to Matthew Ebel‘s Second Life live album, it was no mistake that it was named Virtual Hot Wings and tied into the Virtual Thirst promotion. At the same time, we tried to add as much value as possible to Virtual Thirst by offering a tangible good to an intangible campaign.
How to be a meme jumper? Connect. Connect, connect, connect. Use tools like Twitter for near-real-time monitoring of what’s getting people’s attention. Use Yahoo Pipes to aggregate a list of URLs from the Twitterstream into a format that can be parsed, then look for the most common URLs in a 24 hour period. Technorati and Google Blog Search will keep you on top of blogged items, but check them frequently. Find a meme to latch on to that’s appropriate, then tailor your content to match the meme as best as possible, adding value to it and propagating it.
What’s the goal of a meme jumper? Build lots of short bursts of high intensity traffic to a web site to garner attention and eyeballs. It’s then up to the Community Developer and other marketing staff to convert those eyeballs into subscribers, reader, and customers.
A meme jumper is different than a brand hijacker. The latter just plugs into as many buzzwords as possible with standard link baiting strategies without adding any additional value. It’s less symbiotic and more parasitic.
How do you apply for such a job? It’s all about the track record. Start with small organizations and volunteer work – find charities to plug into that desperately need the help, and make them powerful presences online for fundraising drives. Once you’ve done a few, take your show on the road.