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Published on February 10th, 2012 | by Colleen Corkery

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Hey Girl, Wanna Go Viral? Learn from Memes

Sh*t Girls Say

Internet memes (“meems”). What are they? They’re widely mispronounced (don’t feel bad, I thought it was “me me” too). They also equate to every marketer’s dream: viral ideas, behavior or concepts that explode all over the internet into a frenzy of shares, likes, tweets and most notably, copycats.

There are good memes (that involve Ryan Gosling) and bad ones (like planking or Rebecca Black), but we all participate in the madness that makes them go viral. So how do these concepts get so much exposure and why do we care? Digging into the depths of a meme can teach us a thing or two regarding our own campaigns, whether it be email, content or social marketing. Let’s learn from memes:

You Tell ’em – Content Marketing

The phrase “content is king” may be overused, but the concept isn’t overrated. Becoming a storyteller of sorts when it comes to content marketing is vital if we really want to resonate with our audience. However, is catchy content enough to retain our readers? Bob Knorpp from The BeanCast said it best in AdAge: “We need to show people a richer story. We need to show them why they should be compelled to come back again and again and why they should share it with their friends. We need to think less like a movie and more like an episodic sitcom – an unfolding story that is greater than the story of each individual episode. This is the secret sauce of going viral.”Will it Blend?An excellent example would be the series of infomercial videos by Blendtec. In each “Will it Blend?” video, Tom Dickson, founder of Blendtec, attempts to blend unique items in a mixer including a cell phone, a video camera, and most famously, their “Cochicken.” The videos, piquing inquisitive minds, kept audience members coming back for more to witness the wacky and wild blend ups. Was this successful for Blendtec? Dickson is quoted as saying, “The campaign took off almost instantly. We have definitely felt an impact in sales. Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products.”

Quote Me On That Embracing Competition

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and by now, co-creators Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey of the meme Sh*t Girls Say must feel like the prettiest ‘girls’ in the world. The YouTube videos of Graydon in drag spouting stereotypical phrases have spawned an uncountable number of Sh*t (someone) Say(s) videos. The competition includes: Sh*t Fashion Girls Say, Sh*t San Franciscans Say, Sh*t Nobody Says, and even Sh*t People Say About Sh*t People Say Videos. As you can see, the list is never ending and everyone wants a ‘say.’ While the Sh*t Girls Say knockoffs aren’t made by the original creators, the exposure only prolongs the life of their meme, expands their audience, and keeps the concept going strong. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Sheppard was asked about the copycats cropping up. “It’s absolutely flattering!” he says. “I mean, the Sh*t Black Girls Say guys credited us in the actual video, and below. And the other ones are all referencing back to us, so it only serves to bring more views to our videos. I’m not at all threatened. It’s fun to see people’s takes on it.”

 Tap That – Understanding Your Audience

Handmade Ryan GoslingIt’s hard to believe that actor Ryan Gosling is human, but (sigh) he actually is! Celebrities grace our computer screens all the time, so why is the “Hey Girl,” Ryan Gosling meme, (from the F*ck Yeah! Ryan Gosling Tumblr blog) so ‘goo-goo for Gosling’ popular? It appeals to the right audience within the right social media platform.

Pictures of Gosling donning personal messages that start with “Hey Girl,” resonate (i.e. tug at the heart strings & humor chords) of its readers. More than half of Tumblr’s demographic is under the age of 25, and this particular meme, with a swoon-worthy celebrity, taps into their desires and keeps them coming back. The original Tumblr blog has spawned off equally popular Tumblr blogs including, Feminist Ryan Gosling, Handmade Ryan Gosling, and Silicon Valley Ryan Gosling.

If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em! – RelevancyNot all of us will whip up the next big meme, but joining in on the fun (while giving appropriate credit), not only shows that your business can sell a product, but remain socially relevant and creative too. Jiffy Cabs created a newspaper ad using the meme “Socially Awkward Penguin,” a series of pictures depicting a penguin with text narrating life’s awkward moments. The ad stating, “Taking cab alone… Don’t know whether to sit in front or back,” honed in on the humor of a meme while tying it into their services. Who doesn’t appreciate some humor and relevancy amongst the sell, sell, sell?

Socially Awkward Penguin

So tell me, which memes do you find successful and which ones do you think should just go away? (My favorites: Sh*t Fashion Girls Say (2), and Xzibit Yo Dawg).

© 2012, Colleen Corkery. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

is a contributing author for VerticalResponse.



7 Responses to Hey Girl, Wanna Go Viral? Learn from Memes

  1. Saim says:

    that last one is hysterical!! (actually, they all are .but the last one made me scare my kids! heheh). i find the hey girl pins very asinumg ..but here’s the thing .am i the only girl on the planet that does not find ryan gosling attractive in the least little bit????

  2. Hobiron says:

    Bahahhahahahah!!! Have you seen the one Hey girl I find it sexy when I come home and you are still in your PJ’s and on Pinterest! Who doesn’t love Ryan Gosling? Seriously!!! He maybe my new Brad Pitt! Want to know a crazy fact, my sister, McCall’s hunasbd’s brother dated Ryan Gosling’s sister. {did you follow that?} WHAT THE HELL!!! I could have met and falling in love with Ryan!!! Ok maybe not, but at least met him!!

  3. Gary Richardson says:

    Simple put, know your audience.

  4. One of the best marketing techniques in my opinion is client/target engagement. If you look at all of the memes and all of the videos, they all present the client with an opportunity to get involved in the campaign. The clients themselves keep the campaign going. You want to make your campaign engaging and easy for someone to imitate or contribute to like videos.

  5. Im afraid that this memms “explode all over the internet”.But it smells like a good stuff.

  6. alanc230 says:

    There is so much on the internet clamoring for our attention, and our eyeballs, that silly stuff like these memes is a real pleasure. At least once in a while.

  7. Anonymous says:

    wow, awesome blog article.Much thanks again. Awesome.

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