I’ve been tagged for a “meme” again. Unlike the previous one, which focused on telling a few things about myself to the audience, this one involves a photograph. For those who are not familiar with blogger jargon, “tagged” is just like in a game of tag. One blogger chooses or “tags” another to carry on some specific “meme.” A “meme” is a small thought/challenge/trend or fad. Participating in these quasi-chain-letter internet events is really more of a distraction from your usual content and SEO tactics. But they’re usually a good distraction. Memes usually don’t take much time (at least if you don’t spend time explaining all the related concepts) and they give your audience a chance to know more about you as a person. Perhaps participating in memes is be good for your YEO (you engaging others) campaign. Understanding how memes spread can be valuable. Memes outline the strength and diversity of your network and make it transparent. At the end of the day, human beings are making decisions about who they should send the meme to. I think they balance the following three questions (what do you think?):

  • Will the person I ask participate?
  • Will the person I ask provide an interesting response?
  • Will my association with this person help me or make me look good/cool/increase my SEO?

Now that I re-read that list it sounds like asking someone to the 8th grade dance.

How memes spread: a social media hypothesis

I received the meme from Adam Fullerton. I know Adam because he worked for Union Street Media first as an intern and then as a sales/marketing guy after he first graduated from Champlain College. He and I worked together on several projects and I was always grilling him about various online marketing ideas. You can read my recommendation for Adam at his LinkedIn profile (if you’re logged in, which you can do because having a LinkedIn account is part of your profile marketing campaign, right?). Fully got the meme from Mike Volpe who is the everpresent cheerful voice of Hubspot, purveyors of fine internet marketing insights, blog posts and their weekly HubspotTV video podcast. Volpe was kind enough to let us all know a little about why he chose who he chose to spread the meme to. In Adam’s case, it was because Adam is a regular attendee at the HubspotTV videocasts. Adam is present online. I have a feeling that participation in the “micro-blogging” platform Twitter assisted Adam’s decision to select me as part of his meme spreading. You see, while it’s been nearly half a year since Adam even lived in the same town as me, we follow each other through Twitter. I sometimes post photographs on Twitter and often share what I’m doing/thinking. My presence on Twitter is part of my social media strategy. A recent college graduate, Adam Fullerton is just now entering the workforce and I like to tap his brain for new ideas. I also keep a special watch on his feed in case there’s something I can help him with (I believe in a strong company alumni program). I am present online. When Adam was deciding who he should tag, I wasn’t his geeky colleague from six months ago. I was the guy who posted a link to a crazy photograph of a horsedrawn snowboarder last night. Or both maybe. I think my use of Twitter has increased my presence and relevance with Fully. Sure this means I have to respond to this meme thing, but it also means I know what’s happening in the Boston area and am inspired to write this post about memes and marketing for you, my dear readers.

The Meme: 6th Photo

So far I’ve written quite a lot about how the meme got to this blog. Now I’ll write as if I was just participating in the meme itself, without feeling the need to write about marketing or ethnography of meme-spreading. Well, Adam Fullerton has chosen me for a meme spread. Usually memes involve writing a little list of things about yourself or weighing in on a thought. The one that Fullerton has passed on to me involves photography. The meme is this:

  1. Go to the sixth page of your Flickr photostream.
  2. Go to the sixth picture on that sixth page.
  3. Embed the picture on your blog
  4. Write something about it.
  5. Pick six others to pass on the meme.
  6. Everything else in this meme is six so there must be a sixth step.

So here’s my image: bridge at the Shelburne farms To start with, this photograph is taken with a Holga plastic camera. This is part of what gives the image that vignette look with out-of-focus-ness increasing as you get towards the corners (check the lower left for the most extreme example in this image). The Holga is a 120, medium format film camera. I take a lot of pictures with it (I have two pre-Lomographic Society Holgas that I nearly always have loaded and ready to go). Usually I shoot in color, like this image. With 400 speed film because it’s easier to find. Then I drop off the film for developing and have the shop transfer the image to CD. From there, I do some quick adjustments (often just hitting the ol’ “enhance” button in iPhoto… but sometimes I get into the Photoshop editing). The image itself is of a stone fence in the garden of Shelburne Farms in Shelburne Vermont. The garden sits right on the edge of Lake Champlain. The grounds of the Shelburne Farms estate are beautiful and well maintained (despite the appearance of this fence). Everything there looks like something out of a postcard. They also have a killer breakfast/brunch. This image and many others in my Vermont set of images, have a lenient Creative Commons license that allows you to use these pictures for whatever you like as long as you attribute me as the creator/owner of the image. For example, if you’re a real estate blogger looking for a picture of a crumbling fence at the end of the world, you shouldn’t feel guilty about using this one. Also, in a Droste effect whirlpool of internships, the comment on this photograph in my Flickerstream is from an intern I had before I started working at Union Street Media (and if anyone in NYC is looking for a narrative photographer who makes great images and is a pleasure to work with, you should contact her). I’m going to pass this meme on to the following:

  1. Morgan Newcomb (sits near me at Union Street Media and also likes cameras, his site was down when I wrote this post but he says it will be back soon)
  2. Nicole Nicolay (her 5 tips for using Twitter is what got me started posting pictures in my Twitterstream)
  3. Amey Ryan (recently completed her initial blog coaching and I want to give her a challenge)
  4. Elaine Young (A Burlington VT social media scenester, I’m hoping she’ll comment on the hypothesis in the preamble to the meme)
  5. Nicole Ravlin (she’s my “biggest competition” on the Shorty Awards on Twitter for the #BTV space and  a great public relations resource)
  6. Dan Cypress (a friend of mine from before I started working at USM, I’m pinging his blog to remind him it’s time to update–Hi Dan!)