Business Magazine

Is Obama Guilty of Not Having a Meme Strategy?

Posted on the 05 May 2011 by Iangreen @GREENComms

Has the US administration made a mistake in its handling of the killing of Osama Bin Laden by not having a fully thought-through memes strategy?
By this I mean, is it making decisions and taking actions without due consideration of the potential subsequent word of mouth, the memes that are likely to occur as a result?
As nature abhors a vacuum, so the supplying of minimum details, few facts or film footage is creating an information vacuum – the best breeding ground for speculation, rumour and ultimately conspiracy theories.
A conspiracy theory is the most powerful meme going. (I call them ‘Captain Scarlet memes’ as they are indestructible: when someone who believes in a conspiracy meme is given contradictory information, their response is to say: “They are bound to say that!” – and the underlying conspiracy viewpoint actually consolidates and hardens when fed with fresh counter information.)
The US government is now creating new problems for itself: conspiracy theories on whether Bin Laden is dead, how he met his death, whether there was any disrespect shown to his faith, if the body buried at sea, will now abound.
Bottling information does not contain the meme genie. Concerns about creating a shrine for Bin Laden are not thought through; if anyone wants a shrine for him, they will create their own.
The policy makers have not taken into account what I call ‘truthiness’ – that people will construct their own reality, their own facts to suit their worldview.
Perhaps the US should have taken a leaf out of the Soviet authorities, who, when faced with a similar dilemma, on what to do at the site of Hitler’s bunker where he met his death. They built an inconspicuous children’s playground on it.
There is also a lot of misinformation about the word ‘meme’ on the social media. The news announcement about Bin Laden being killed is information. Because people are twittering about him, that does not make it a meme.
A meme is a vehicle for carrying a message. A good example of a meme to emerge during the news is how the photo of Obama and his advisers in ‘The Situation Room’ has itself quickly become an iconic meme: the photo seems to symbolise ‘The US Government in Action in the killing of Bin Laden’.
Containing this underlying message, the photo meme has been adapted by others with another agenda, to either trivialise the solemnity of the shot, or undermine the Obama brand, or even send a statement about the frivolousness of Western Society.
By using the photo to underlay their message they are piggy-backing on its recognition, association and potency to create their own distorted meaning.
Anyone faced with a crisis needs to take into account the reality of memes and word of mouth communications, and potential scenarios arising from their actions during the crisis.
Decision makers need to:
1. Identify how their message is likely to be hi-jacked, distorted or abused by those with other agendas, and the potential memes that will be created as a result.
2. Avoid creating information vacuums to limit the fertile field for conspiracy theories.
3. Create their own iconic sound bite messages and images, to provide what I call ‘Blocking Memes’.
4. Monitor and respond to any subsequent memes as they emerge. And don’t counter these in information terms, but rather create counter-memes which are stronger, more virulent to obscure and starve any rival meme.
You heard it from here: the US administration does not seem to have an effective meme strategy. Pass it on.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • How To Style Your Shorts in 10 Unique Ways

    Style Your Shorts Unique Ways

    Summers are here and they are in full swing, all we want to do is chill by the beach side. While all of us can’t hit the beach, yet we can definitely bring beac... Read more

    7 hours, 14 minutes ago by   Dreamtechie
  • Monday Miscellany: Shoes, Shows And Friends

    Monday Miscellany: Shoes, Shows Friends

    The last several weeks have been such a whirlwind of activity, so this weekend I’ve been giving myself the gift of some “down time.” Playing a bit of catch-up... Read more

    7 hours, 18 minutes ago by   Unefemme
  • Nine Steps to Using a Paddling Pool

    Nine Steps Using Paddling Pool

    Sometimes, you just gotta cool down. These last few days it's been really quite warm, so we've had the paddling pool out for my son to play in. Read more

    7 hours, 28 minutes ago by   Ravenswingthog
  • Catrice Long-lasting Waterproof Eye Pencil Review

    Catrice Long-lasting Waterproof Pencil Review

    Hey everyone, what’s up? An eye-pencil is a must have in your vanity. That’s why I love trying out new brands every now and then. Today, I’m going to review... Read more

    7 hours, 55 minutes ago by   Jhilmil D Saha
  • The Edge


    While vacationing at an Alaskan lodge during a photo shoot, a pragmatic, solitary billionaire (Anthony Hopkins)--with a steel trap mind when it comes to... Read more

    7 hours, 56 minutes ago by   Kaiser31083
  • Mike Philbin - Art - Twin Towers 1, 2 and 7

    Mike Philbin Twin Towers

    This most-recent tryptich has a title of "Twin Towers 1, 2 and 7", an obvious and unsubtle allusion to a) the twin towers or pillars of freemasonic egyptologica... Read more

    8 hours ago by   Freeplanet
  • Find a Travel Buddy with Ease and Make Solo Traveling Even Better

    Find Travel Buddy with Ease Make Solo Traveling Even Better

    Traveling solo as a woman has so many advantages. You can go where you wish, keep to your own schedule and spend some times really getting to know yourself. Read more

    8 hours, 32 minutes ago by   Poundtravel

Paperblog Hot Topics