After writing a guest post on desire in social media, my mind began to wander and out came this:
Memetics teaches us that ideas can be like organisms and evolve, and for these memes, reproduction is attention and longevity is host engagement. The more attention and desire an idea stirs, the more people it is able to infect, thereby reproducing itself and introducing variations. Additionally if a meme, once assimilated into a person, creates a high level of commitment in the form of time, energy, or resources it is more likely to live on in that host and will be given more time to spread from each individual. We can say there are two drivers of viral growth then, desire and commitment.
If a meme isn’t desireable at all, it won’t spread.
If a meme requires a low level of commitment from the user, like a simple text-based blog post or a short video it requires less desire to motivate people to engage it. Most diggbait is relatively low desire (its fun, but it won’t really change my life for the better) and very low commitment. This also means that people imprinted with these types of memes are less likely to spread them. As we either increase the desire and leave the commitment low or increase both the desire and the commitment, we see retransmission rates increase. The more attention-getting, life-enhancing, pleasurable (aka desireable) the story, the more links it will get, this is why we tend to see the “wisdom of the crowd” work and surface some pretty cool content in social media. We also see higher retransmission if a story engages the reader to participate and can raise the amount of attention he or she has committed to it. Ron Paul supporters are probably the most obvious recent example of this, this is a very high level of both commitment and desire for their candidate to win and the amount of attention and links generated is astounding.
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