Memes that shape Conversation

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This year, it was interesting to watch the Roar losing players. Not because the changes in the team roster were inherently interesting, but because of the conversation that evolved around it. There was one very persistent meme that coloured discussion both in the media and among the fans: the senior players’ ‘drinking culture’.

The idea first surfaced in the media after Frank Farina’s sacking and was repeated as each older player left. This meme was very persistent and effectively framed the conversation around the changes to the club for the rest of the season. Players that used to be lauded by the supporters were now labelled unprofessional, past it, and a bad influence on the club by the very same fans.

What is interesting is what was not discussed as the club let go of their more experienced players, many of whom used to be fan favourites. The discussion was not about why the management were making these decisions, or how this will affect the club’s chances of making the finals; it was dominated by the alleged ‘drinking culture’ of the senior players, fuelled by rumour and loose rationalisation.

It was interesting to see how discussion about events within a community can be shaped so much by a simple meme. Most of the conversation by the fans and media around the club as its team roster was changed was framed by the ‘drinking culture’ meme.

A simple meme that can be summed up in a memorable phrase can shape conversation about events and brands. An idea that resonates and helps to create an easily understood context for the way events unfold will almost always spread. Once a meme gains traction with opinion shapers, it will be repeated by both those who embrace it and oppose it, and this will just help to perpetuate it.

Framing the conversation has been important in politics ever since a popular vote mattered. Today online it is still just as vital for guiding opinion. Ideas can spread fast, and, thanks to the volume of information generated each day and the nature of a lot of social networking sites, are not always visible at the start.

As with any other channel, online interactions and content do shape the way discussion around any given subject will develop. Using the Internet to publish content to this end helps to incorporate it in the conversation. From news articles to audio and video, content will be linked to, referenced and commented on. Producing content gives interested parties an opportunity to try to frame the conversation. The success or failure of the attempt rest entirely on how well the content resonates with those who have the authority, both formal and informal, to spread the meme.

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