Chances are you’ve been waiting in line all week for the iPhone 4, which means you haven’t been keeping up on your social media resources. Tsk-tsk.
Put said device to good use, and scroll on down for your weeklycavalcade of hints, tips, insights and analysis.
Go on, gorge yourself.
- 15 Fab Flash Mob Videos on YouTube
We’ve rounded up the very best flash mob events caught on camera, from big brands and ordinary bands of people.
- Why Feedback and Filters are Necessary in Social Media
Social media noise can be combated in two ways: By sending feedback to the noise generators, and by effectively filtering social streams. Here’s a look at both.
- HOW TO: Crowdsource Funds for Causes, Creativity and Startups
These resources can help you raise money for your charity, latest project, or business venture.
- How Salespeople Are Using Social Media for Real Results
The days of door-to-door salespeople might be over, but social media has opened new opportunities.
- 9 Universal Principles of Viral Media Sites
Want your site to get a billion page views by going viral online? Want to enter the rankings as Internetmeme? There’s no set formula, but there are a few tried-and-true principals to adhere to.
- The Top 10 Most Watched Web Series, May 2010
If you’re looking for some video entertainment to watch on your lunch break, this chart is a great place to start.
- 10 Best UFO Hoax Videos on YouTube
We’ve trawled YouTube for UFO clips, and pulled together a list of the ten very best hoaxes, unexplained footage, fakes, and mysterious home movies.
- 3 Things Facebook Does Very Well
Despite the passionate criticism Facebook has received lately, the network is a social giant and web mainstay for a reason. Here’s what it’s doing right.
- Why Food Bloggers Are Here to Stay
Food blogs have taken off, but some food bloggers still struggle to have the same legitimacy as their print-publication counter-parts.
- Are You a Comments Troll?
When a story’s subject/author/factual errors/typeface sends one into a fit of rage, it can be hard to hold back one’s ire.
- HOW TO: Help New Users Stay Engaged on Twitter
Twitter is growing, but new users are often overwhelmed, and many don’t stick around. We’ve outlined some ways you can help prevent them from becoming part of the Twitter quitter trend.
- How Social Media is Helping Veterans Connect
Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are utilizing social media for more than just staying in touch with family while deployed. Online communities have become important support systems.
Tech & Mobile
- iRig Turns Your iPhone Into an Awesome Guitar Stompbox [REVIEW]
We went hands-on with the AmpliTube iRig, an interface for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch that lets you plug in a guitar and use your device as a stompbox.
- 10 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Google
Google is not your average company and it’s fitting that they have a history chock full of quirk. Here are 10 facts you may not have known about Google.
- Tech Tourism: 10 Great Geek Destinations
From the birth of Silicon Valley to the inception of Twitter, we’ve pinpointed ten places on the map for those with a passion for tech and social media.
- 14 Sites Changing the Way We Shop
We’ve been shopping online since the mid 90s and the web has become a playground for smart and savvy shoppers. Here are 14 sites changing the way we shop.
- Free Music Monday: 10 Free Downloads Compiled for You
10 free tracks in honor of the #musicmonday tradition on Twitter.
- How iOS 4 and iTunes Work Together [VIDEO]
Check out this video demo of the new mobile OS and your favorite music app in action together.
- 10 Best Multimedia and Entertainment Android Apps
Turn your Android device into a multimedia hub for music, video, books, news, and more with these 10 great apps.
- HOW TO: Get Up-to-Date on WordPress 3.0
WordPress 3.0 brings a refined backend interface, a new default theme, a new custom menu structure, and improved support for custom post types and taxonomies.
- Top 10 Resources for Design Inspiration
A list of the best visual resources where web designers and creatives can turn for inspiration and to jump start their creative thinking.
- iPhone 4 vs. Droid X Feature Comparison [INFOGRAPHIC]
How does the new Droid X stack up against the new iPhone 4? Check the chart.
- HOW TO: Use iMovie for iPhone
iMovie for iPhone is the official Apple application that lets iPhone users record and edit high-definition video to publish directly to YouTube or send via MMS and e-mail.
- 10 iPhone Apps for a Better Night’s Sleep
Sleep is one of the best things for your body. No matter how many hours of rest you get, these 10 apps can help you make the most of your sleep at night.
- iPad Magazines: Don’t Believe the Hype
Much has been said about the iPad’s ability to reinvigorate the publishing industry, but the first generation of magazine apps on the iPad falls short.
- 5 Free Ways To Find Local Concerts on Your Smartphone
If you want to find local concerts while you’re on the go, these 5 apps will keep you in the know.
- The History of the iPhone [INFOGRAPHIC]
It’s been an auspicious week for Apple and its much-touted wonder device. Take a stroll down memory lane with this infographic.
- 5 Cool Non-Profit Uses of Location-Based Tech
We’ve seen brands use location-based services for marketing, but non-profit organizations have jumped on board to spread awareness and make connections. Here are some interesting examples.
- 5 Useful iPhone Apps for Business Networking
Five useful iPhone apps that will help you become a better business networker.
- Newspapers Are Still Dying, But the News Is Not Going Anywhere
Newspapers need to desperately seek new ways to find revenue with experimental tactics in order to stay alive.
- HOW TO: Use QR Codes for Small Business Marketing
If you’re unfamiliar with the business potential of QR codes, use this post as a crash course in how to get started.
- HOW TO: Use Social Media for Lead Generation
Being that social media is a great place to attract new customers, we put together a quick guide on how to use social media for lead generation.
- HOW TO: Improve B2B Sales Productivity with Social Media
Social media offers unprecedented ways to investigate and make connections with business customers that will save you time chasing worthless leads.
- Why Your Next Business Card May Be Virtual
Virtual business cards offer many advantages over paper cards: They’re cheaper, take up less room, automatically update, and can instantly hook into your social graph.
- HOW TO: Evaluate Your Social Media Plan
If you are frustrated because your business hasn’t seen results from social media marketing, maybe it’s time to rethink your plan. Here are some tips to help.
Ian Spector is the creator of Chuck Norris Facts. His latest book, Chuck Norris Cannot Be Stopped: 400 All-New Facts About the Man Who Knows Neither Fear Nor Mercy is now in bookstores everywhere. He is currently working on two startups and provides web strategy consulting services. Follow him onTwitter.
There’s a good chance that you’ve come across the word “meme” at some point or another in the past few years. It’s an arcane academic concept but at the same time it’s also one of those things that you can identify, but can’t describe easily.Richard Dawkins coined the phrase in an effort to help explain cultural evolution in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, where it’s defined as a shared element intended to be passed around within a culture, a societal analog to a gene. Everything from Tamagotchis to “That’s what she said” count as memes. On the Internet, memes are more visible than ever before, and what’s more, they’re also serious business.
Now, even though it may not be immediately apparent, there are a number of universal qualities that all successful viral memes have in common.
1. Content is Everything
On the Internet, content is everything. It’s what will make or break a site. Why would anyone want to go to a website if there’s nothing interesting or entertaining to see? Visitors will flock to your creation so long as you consistently feed users good content that’s appropriately presented and packaged.
This may read like a page from the Book of ‘Duh’, but play to your strengths. For instance, if you’re not a fan of writing a whole lot, don’t start a long-form, text-heavy blog, and stick to editing incoming user-generated content.
“Going viral necessitates a universal understanding of the joke,” says Lauren Leto, co-founder of Texts from Last Night. “There’s a reason commentary on quantum physics doesn’t pull the attention of the masses, but a joke about a cat stuck in a box does – because it’s a quick laugh. The easier to digest, the more people will forward the content around.”
Beyond the content, your site should be simple to interact with as well. We all know that every type of person is on the web now, so by designing a simple, elegant, and intuitive site for users, as well as administrators, may save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Sometimes you don’t even need to build something fancy and custom yourself. This Is Why You’re Fat runs off of Tumblr, which is a great platform for testing out whether or not the public will eat up your idea, and also has integrated sharing features which is helpful for growth. Depending on what your project is, you may not need to expand beyond it, but if you do, the next step up would be a service like Wordpress, which affords the administrator more customized options. You can always build your own site, but that can often be time and cash-intensive.
The brain is very good at making associations. If your content is able to get people to respond emotionally, get people to laugh and enjoy themselves, you’re gold. That emotional connection serves as a sort of glue, binding the association between your content or site and enjoyment and with each exposure to entertaining, funny, or otherwise emotionally provocative content, that association between “your site” and “totally amazing” becomes stronger and stronger.
Here’s a quick case study: According to my network of unnamed spies, there are two groups of people who seem to be drawn to LOLCats. The first are people who just find it funny. The other group is made up of the passionate folks perhaps better known as “crazy cat ladies.” Their overwhelming love of cats drives them to spend time on the site as well as to spend money on the books that are available now as well. Think about that.
One of the biggest emotional hooks is empathy, which is where the success from sites like Awkward Family Photos and Shit My Dad Says come from. We’ve all got our own awkward family portraits, and we’ve all heard our parents say ridiculous things. White people will laugh at themselves reading Stuff White People Like, while non-white people will gladly laugh at the ironically accurate absurdity of “the definitive guide to the unique tastes of millions.” Note how race and family are some big-picture concepts. There’s lots of potential material in those spaces to play with, which can get users to respond to easily.
4. Own Your Space
What do sites like Texts from Last Night, Urban Dictionary, My Mom is a Fob, and FML have in common? They’re all masters of their own space.
They’re original concepts unattached to any other properties, and by virtue of that, their owners can do things like make T-shirts, produce iPhone and iPad apps, and even develop TV shows (Shit My Dad Says landed a TV deal with CBS not too long ago and its slated to star William Shatner).
Then there are a those other sites that are inherently related to some third party “black box.” Sometimes that third party has no problem with what you’re doing (Remember Rick Astley Rickrolling the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?), sometimes they do. Avoid any potential messes by working on something completely unique and independent.
5. Share It
As with all things on the ever-growing social web, memes live and die by the ability to share content. If your content isn’t bite-sized and isn’t surrounded by some controls to share: Like, Tweet, Stumble, Digg, or something else, you’re doing something wrong.
“Your content should be instantly identifiable no matter where it ends up on the web,” says Ben Bator, co-founder of Texts From Last Night. “Humorous material is meant to be shared, so don’t limit the possibilities.”
My personal favorite sharing control is the “share by e-mail” function found on ICanHasCheezburger. Remember how crazy cat ladies love that stuff? Guess what else they love to do – that’s right, forward everyone they know those pictures, so why not have that right on the site? Brilliant, though unfortunate for the rest of us.
At the launch of your project, you should also make sure that there are appropriate avenues for discussion, sharing, and fandom on third party services. Get yourself a Facebook Fan page, add certain pages to Stumble Upon, register appropriate Twitter handles, and popularize the hashtags you want to use. Being in control of your content outside of your site is important.
6. Protect Your Content
Because you’re working on the Internet, there’s a good chance that your content will spill out everywhere besides your website. Set Google Alerts for your site’s name and even for popular content (if it’s text-based) so that you can be alerted to copycat websites or apps.
You should have an attorney send any copycat sites cease and desist notices immediately to the owners of those sites. You don’t absolutely need an attorney to do this for you, but you’re usually guaranteed better results. Most copycats will stop immediately once they hear from you if you’ve done the job properly.
In addition, you should protect yourself from potentially angry users by creating a bulletproof “Terms of Service” page. “[It] should be the first page you complete. Make your intentions clear, otherwise you will just piss off your users (and possibly lose out on a book deal),” says Bator. Unless you’re an oracle, it’s unlikely that you know what direction your site will follow as it grows.
“Launch with a broad but legit terms of service and take it from there,” suggests Jessica Amason, co-creator of This Is Why You’re Fat and Viral Media Editor at BuzzFeed.
The only reason Chuck Norris Facts exist is because I asked the visitors to my site what they wanted to see. I had started my site with “Vin Diesel Facts” and after getting a few million hits and some mentions in the press, I put up a poll to ask visitors who the site should include next. The rest is history.
Don’t necessarily crowdsource your major decisions to your users since you probably don’t know or trust them that well, but it’s just as much their site as it is yours to a certain extent. Users/members ought to have a say in things, if only to let you know if you’re going in the right direction.
8. Don’t Force It
There’s a good chance you’ve heard this phrase in one context or another. Most memes seem to start and grow organically — their successes are a result of good content, stellar execution, and everything else previously mentioned. It’s really hard to work backwards.
Some people in the meme-machine world will actually start a large number of sites per year, expect most of them to fail, and just support the ones that take off. Others think that because they may have succeeded with one meme that they will be guaranteed success with their next venture. The best example of this in recent memory is follow-up project that the creator of the Million Dollar Homepage started after he finished making his million bucks. The man made a million dollars. Anyone in his shoes probably thought that the next move, whatever it might be, would be golden, but it was a total flop.
But hey, expect to make mistakes. You learn more from them anyway.
9. Love it, and Let it Go
All memes reach a point when their 15 minutes are up and the traffic levels off to die-hard fanatics, and a relatively constant stream of new visitors who come and go. As with all things in life, make sure you love what you’re doing. There’s a lot of work involved with running these things. I had to review thousands and thousands of submissions at my site’s peak. It’s hardly fun, especially knowing you’re on a ticking clock.
Also, be sure to consider the implications of being the face of your meme. The people who seem to be into it the meme I created most right now are annoying frat guys who spend their days “icing” their “bros,” and that’s not necessarily a group that I want to call myself the leader of. Sure, it’s great that so many people from around the world have enjoyed what I’m responsible for, but at the end of the day, it’s pretty ridiculous.