Finding Meme: How you can take your employment brand messaging viral.

Gather round, everyone. Uncle Charlie is going to tell you the story of the little meme and how it swam all over cyberspace because people loved it so.

Now, first I have to explain what a “meme” is. A meme is defined by Wikipedia as “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within the culture.” This was a concept put forth by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins back in 1976 when he described those melodies, catch phrases, fashions and technologies that spread throughout our lives as cultural phenomena. Those are “memes.”

But you may still be asking, “We get that, Uncle Charlie, but how do we recognize a meme when we see one…and what will it do for our employment brand?”

Well, have any of you been on the Internet and run into that Cheezburger cat who says funny, ungrammatical things? Or theNyan cat, that pixilated Pop-Tart®-shaped cartoon cat that runs incessantly across the screen in his peppy little video to a theme song you just can’t get out of your head (racking up 86 million YouTube visits to date)?

I’ll bet many of you heard a lot of people talking after the recent presidential debates when Governor Romney made his reference to “binders full of women.”  That not only became a trending meme within 40 minutes of its utterance, but it also became a great big pile of tweets, dedicated Facebook and Tumblr pages and its own domain. One pundit (you know, people with great media access who comment on everything) called it “Warhol on steroids,” referring to pop artist Andy Warhol’s meme declaration that “At some point, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”

“Wait a minute,” Uncle Charlie, you may say. “You didn’t bring us together to talk about kitty cats and binders. You usually blog about employment branding and ways to get messages through the clutter right to candidates so companies can be more visible to the right people.”

You are correct. And that brings me to my main reason for telling you about “Finding Meme”:

How can we start to look at our employment brand messaging and think in terms of its “meme-worthiness”?

Take for example what Old Spice® did with Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa. He was that fellow in the shower or on a white horse in those videos telling women that he is “the man your man could smell like” if “your man” switched to Old Spice Body Wash. His video became one of the most watched memes, making women smile, men chuckle ironically, and Old Spice product awareness needles go jumpy.

The point is, everything you say or do on the Internet has meme potential. Sure, you need to be SEO’d to ensure that your web content index successfully. But you should also be looking for opportunities for your employment brand messages or videos to gather more viral steam.

When you and your team are strategizing and assembling your thoughts about how to get your employment brand messaging out to candidates, consider avenues for memes that can drive your differentiators further out into the attention landscape.

If you’re looking for inspiration, follow Ad Age®’s Viral Chart to see which marketing videos are trending well above the norm. Or, check Twitter’s #hash tag trends to get a ground-level view of topics or references currently in the zeitgeist of the culture.

Which brings up another important point: Don’t craft your meme just to capitalize on what people are talking about right at the moment. Think longevity. Embedding a meme that has more staying power in the cultural narrative is not only going to reap more benefits, but will also give you greater continuity in support of your branded themes over the long term.

That’s my story.

Now go back and have meaningful discussions around how to put more meme in your employment brand. And I’ll go back to what I love to do: Keep my eyes, ears and mind wide open, so I can bring you more new and exciting stories about how to increase your employment brand’s relevance and make it stand out in our very busy world.

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