Internet memes are all the rage right now. These simple pieces of “artwork” or rather cartoons combined with witty statements are so successful that some have acquired millions of shares and likes in a matter of days. Oftentimes, these internet memes have also led to the meteoric rise of the content or website they are associated with. So why does this happen? How do things become popular on the Internet? Reddit co-founder – Alexis Ohanian, explains how the power of the Internet propels certain content to dizzying heights. The democratic nature of the web levels the playing field for everybody. You do not need to have a lot of money to make your content popular on the Internet. If it connects with people who are surfing the web, they will make the content popular.
Mister Splashy Pants
At a TED presentation in Mysore, India, Ohanian uses the humorous example of Mister Splashy Pants to demonstrate the popularity that certain web content can achieve when people back it up. Mister Splashy Pants just goes to show that people can make major changes via collective will.
The famous environmental organization, Greenpeace, had started a campaign to stop the whale hunting in Japan and to urge the Japanese government from banning the practice. To bring spread awareness about this initiative and to gain more popularity, the organization decided to tag humpback whales and to track their migration patterns. As part of this Great Whale Trial Expedition, an online poll was created to allow web users to vote for a name that should be given to one particular humpback whale.
From the many beautiful and meaningful names, one name “Mister Splashy Pants” was submitted as a joke. This funny name was posted on Reddit and attracted a lot of attention from other Reddit users. Ohanian and the other co-founders even got behind it and changed their logo showing to a picture of a whale. As more and more people got behind this name and voted for it, the percentage of votes that “Mister Splashy Pants” obtained jumped from a mere 5% to over 70% when voting closed.
Surprisingly, Greenpeace and other organizations rejected the name and wanted something more meaningful. This only encouraged Splashy Pant supporters to fight harder for this name. Facebook pages and websites all over the internet urged people to vote for this name. Even though the voting period was extended by a week, percentage of votes for “Mister Splashy Pants” only increased. This is when Greenpeace realized that the Internet loves Mister Splashy Pants.
One of the Best Marketing Campaigns
Instead of fighting the people, Greenpeace not only accepted the name but also used it to fuel web traffic and sales. For no added costs, Greenpeace was able to tap into the popularity of this name and use it to its advantage. They created “Mister Splashy Pants” merchandise like t-shirts, sweatshirts, cards, etc. but best of all they accomplished their original goal. The popularity of this meme forced the Japanese government to call off the whaling expedition. Moreover, this meme not only aroused the interests of whale lovers but also that of random people because they wanted to be part of something popular.
This shows us that the Internet is the most democratic information channel. Every ones website or content is as good as that of others. Content can be published online for almost no cost but if you are planning to make it big on the Internet – be genuine. You also have to be able to let go and not take yourself and your content too seriously - the Internet is meant to be fun.
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