Memejacking: hopping the bandwagon without getting run over

ACLU meme image excerptEver been tempted to jump on board the latest meme bandwagon—and hope it brings your message along for the ride?

It’s called “memejacking”. Done right, it lets you tap into the energy of a lively conversation to help amplify your message. Done poorly, it can do you some damage.

In this post on memejacking on the indispensable TechSoup blog, consultant Lauren Girardin looks at some recent nonprofit memejacking efforts around that blue-and-black dress that was such a hotly-debated item this winter. (And it was blue and black, for the record.)

She offers some ideas for doing it right and avoiding some of the pitfalls. This key, she suggests is to be fast, informative, specific and bold.

We’d add two more: be thoughtful, and be smart.

  • Is your intervention a positive contribution, or a crass interruption? When Kenneth Cole decided to horn in on the conversation about street protests in Cairo with a self-serving, flippant tweet – at a time when Egyptians were risking death to speak out – the backlash was overwhelming.
  • And is it going to take you off-message and reflect poorly on your brand, or will it reinforce your communication goals? If the meme is in poor taste, or takes your conversation into counter-productive areas, you’ll want to steer clear.

As communication always does, it comes down to strategy. Does this advance your goals? Does the likelihood and size of the payoff outweigh the risks?

Besides, nobody likes people who muscle into a discussion and change the subject to themselves. But we’re always up for someone who has something interest, relevant and valuable to offer.

And at that point, maybe it stops being about “memejacking”. Maybe it’s just about being a good conversationalist.

Image: detail of ACLU meme post, as reprinted on the TechSoup community blog

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