Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from
body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in
the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the
broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about,
a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He
mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can
be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.
RICHARD DAWKINS, THE SELFISH GENE (1976)
The ‘protein shell’ of a media virus
might be an event, invention,
technology, system of thought,
musical riff, visual image, scientific
theory, sex scandal, clothing style or
even a pop hero -- as long as it can
catch our attention. Any one of these
media virus shells will search out the
receptive nooks and crannies in
popular culture and stick on
anywhere it is noticed. Once
attached, the virus injects its more
hidden agendas into the datastream
in the form of ideological code -- not
genes, but a conceptual equivalent
Flickr: ccarlstead we now call ‘memes’
RUSHKOFF, MEDIA VIRUS (1994)
“Viral Marke6ng captures the essence of mul6‐level‐
marke6ng and applies it to all customers ‐‐ the "word‐of‐
mouth" spread of Hotmail is involuntary.”
Steve Jurvetson and Tim Draper, Netscape Newsle+er
Value is created through:
1. Content relevant to multiple audiences.
2. Content being relevant when and where
audiences want it.
3. Content which audiences can easily reuse.
4. Content that is portable.
5. A steady stream of content.
6. Content that invites audiences to feel invested in
People Spread Content To:
1. Define themselves.
2. Increase their notoriety.
3. Strengthen social ties.
4. Build community.
5. Provoke/challenge others.
Building on PlaQorms
Maintaining a Presence
The Importance of Listening
2) Providing Service to Various Constituents
3) Solidifying/Adapting Messages
4) Crisis Preparation
5) Changing University Practice
6) Opportunity for New Offerings
7) Targeting Audiences
Episodic or Serialized?
Enabling a community
Building an audience
Where’s the Strategy?
Think strategy, not tac6cs
Don’t do digital for digital’s sake
5 Critical Elements to “Spreading”
1. Be true to the brand
– What works for one brand doesn’t automatically work for the other
2. Engage the right internal constituents
– Bring legal, compliance, sales, etc into the process early
3. Speak to audiences in their language, in the places they are already
having conversations, about the issues they want to talk about
– Avoid overly legal and/or sanitized language
4. Create internal processes and an infrastructure that works within the
existing internal framework
– When and how to get content approved
5. Set reasonable expectations for what you can and can’t do
– Keep internal culture, regulations, and resources in mind