Last week at the Republican National Convention, actor Clint Eastwood inadvertently created an Internet meme, now known as “Eastwooding,” by conversing with an empty chair (representing President Barack Obama). Whether you felt Mr. Eastwood’s speech reflected a moment of political brilliance or laughable farce, it’s clear that this event triggered a lot of emotion with people all over the world.
That impromptu emotional trigger is the key to why some Internet memes become more than just fodder for water cooler chats. For example, less than 24 hours after Eastwood’s RNC address, the Internet was abuzz with thousands of user-generated versions of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair.
While most of these expressions of the Eastwooding meme were simply funny and good-humored, some comments on the meme had distinctly political overtones. Other comments on Twitter voiced strong opinions about Clint Eastwood, himself.
Craft a Strategic Response
So, we’ve demonstrated that an Internet meme can be more than just a witty diversion. In some cases, under the guise or distraction of humor, people’s true colors come shining through.
Let’s say you worked with the Obama campaign. You could mine the Twitter comments on the Eastwooding meme to find probable supporters — who otherwise might not have shown their political hands on Twitter. Perhaps strategic connections can be made by reading between the tweets, so to speak.
Or perhaps you can take an Internet meme and turn it more directly to your benefit, as the Obama camp did in the tweet pictured above. In this tweet, the dignity and weight of the Office of President is undeniable, and yet the copy is infused with satirical humor to match the meme.
Of course, before jumping on the meme bandwagon, be sure to fully vet any information you come across on social media before commenting on it to your followers. Take advantage of the popularity of an Internet meme to show your personal, witty side. Allow yourself to have a little fun with Twitter, while at the same time using the platform to see how your customers and competitors are reacting to memes as well. You might be surprised at how pervasive memes have become and what competitive intelligence can be gained from strategically listening and reacting accordingly.
What’s your take on Internet memes? Are they raw materials for the dustbin of social media, or diamonds in the rough to be mined for opportunities? Let is know in the comments below.
[Image credit: C-SPAN]