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The Need for Visiting and Viewing Incentives

However, our job of effectively spreading the joke isn't finished. Note that although a user's friends may get the joke correctly (over email), they themselves may inaccurately retell the joke (because they're relying on word-of-mouth)! We need to have the friends visit W and use W to retell the joke. To accomplish this, we need to provide a visiting incentive to get the friends to visit the site and use the site to spread the joke. Sending a partial joke—just enough of the joke to get them interested—provides one such incentive. To get the complete joke, the friend must visit W. Once at W, that friend can then use the Web form to send the joke to other friends (see Figure 6).

Figure 6

The Web as a joke-reteller for a user and friends

I should point out that W needs to provide F other incentives besides visiting incentives. These other incentives are a function of the technology used to deliver the joke. When the technology is email, you need to provide F a viewing incentive as well. People are so accustomed to getting email spam that they may not open up the email with the partial joke in it. You need to provide some kind of incentive in the email to make someone view it in the first place.

What does all of this have to do with memetic marketing? Note that our final solution uses technology to spread jokes faster, more accurately, and more extensively than word-of-mouth. An important side effect of this solution is that a user's friends and their friends' friends visit the Web site. Specifically, this solution for spreading jokes also drives traffic to our site! This is the essence of memetic marketing. You have a meme (a joke), which is information that people naturally want to spread; you build technology for replicating the meme (the joke Web site and emailer), and you build it in such a way that you drive traffic to your site as consequence of people naturally wanting to spread the meme!

Figure 7

General blueprint: memetic marketing

The concept of memetic marketing applies not just to jokes, but to any meme that's on your Web site. Figure 7 shows a general blueprint for memetic marketing. For a more in-depth treatment of memetic marketing and why it works, read Chapter 14 in the book Web Business Engineering (Addison-Wesley Longman, 2000). My intent in this article was simply to show you how you can use Web Business Engineering to discover innovative ways of marketing your business online. Additional resources can be found at my book Web site, http://www.webbusinessengineering.com/.

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