Assignment #4 – Social Media Marketing Analysis

BioWare’s “Mass Effect” – by Dorothy Ginger Tu

http://www.facebook.com/masseffect

The Mass Effect trilogy is one of many games published by the Canadian video game developer company, BioWare. Having released the trilogy’s last game in March 2012 and announced their plans for a new but separate Mass Effect 4, it is important to see how the company has upheld hype and interest in this series that has been around since 2007.

The Mass Effect Facebook page is one of many platforms the gaming company utilizes to market their product and maintain an active fanbase. The page regularly posts up new content, such as gradually releasing teaser images for future content related to the games – this creates a steady interest and hype among fans. They also post up fanart and cosplays in order to encourage user generated content and proliferate Mass Effect’s name – they will even go as far as to collaborate with such artists to sell their product on the Mass Effect store. This encourages other fans to continue submitting fanart, all the while keeping the brand active on newsfeeds and fans’ minds. Yet as a video game, the farthest it engages in premiums is by offering free in-game items for anyone who has completed the weekly challenge in the game’s multiplayer function. This was only recently implemented and has been relatively effective in both maintaining an active fanbase and pushing for player-to-player interaction. Merchandise, such as t-shirts, posters, etc., are rarely given away for free but will be advertised on sale through the Facebook page. The product and brand itself would also benefit from having the Facebook page link to its other social media presences, like its store, Twitter, YouTube, etc.; currently, it doesn’t do this.

Mass Effect’s page has also been a hub for encouraging player participation. It frequently updates on when and where BioWare will be at conventions, posts up recordings of their panels and gaming streams related to future game content, and releases surveys asking fans to vote on future tshirt designs or give their input on the game. These postings create spaces for conversation between all fans and the product: for example, fans who might have missed a panel because they are across the globe still have a chance to view and respond to these talks. One of the ways they could have fully capitalized on being on Facebook is having a Facebook game for Mass Effect by linking those games together through having the browser game affect Mass Effect’s in-game progress. This would both increase Facebook activity and attract new users who frequent Facebook.

A good example of their creating events to encourage player participation was their celebration of “N7 Day,” a Mass Effect-related anniversary. The page asked for fan submissions showcasing their love for the game by making images of their favorite moments or displaying their Mass Effect-related apparel. These submissions were then shared on the page, Twitter, and on the game’s Pinterest, thus engaging fans and encouraging users to create their own fan content. Prizes, like a free Xbox, were given. The page even released an accessible “fan media kit” that had things such as Facebook banner images and Twitter profile photos. This engaging celebration effectively promoted the game and the company’s image by utilizing the fans and their love for the game to create sincere “buzz” about the product.

As for customer service, the page is hardly utilized as an efficient means for voicing customer service problems; in this failure, the page and the product both maintain their positive image but are also susceptible to losing it when these concerns go unanswered. Questions concerning, say, glitches in the game are not often posted by fans in the page but to the game’s less popular social media platforms, such as Twitter.  The page itself doesn’t direct fans to where they can ask such questions. By answering these concerns through less popular outlets, the page loses opportunities to bolster the company’s expressed dedication to customer service and its fans. The page was nonetheless utilized to address overwhelming concerns over the game’s ending back in March 2012. At that time, it frequently posted surveys or released statements concerning the ending in order to let the fans know they were being heard, as well as encourage more feedback.

Overall, I feel that the Facebook page is a relatively good example of effective social media marketing. While it is lacking in customer service support and doesn’t incentivize fans through physical give-aways, it performs strongly in maintaining an active and loyal userbase. By focusing on creating a stronger community of users, the product and the company rely on the fans’ word-of-mouth and their sincere love for the game to help improve their marketing. However, it is hard to say how this model of social media marketing would work for newer, less popular companies.

Urban Outfitters-  by Tien Chang

Urban Outfitters is a trend-setting company that sells not only clothing items, but also books and interior decor. I believe that the Facebook page for Urban Outfitters provides an effective means of social media marketing. As someone who has liked their Facebook page, I often see posts on product marketing, giveaways and event gatherings numerous times throughout the day.

While Urban Outfitters does not usually give away free items, there are promotional items, such as Lisa Frank stickers or contests for shopping sprees. If a customer chooses to go to Urban Outfitters for free stickers, there is a high possibility that customer would browse the store or have good feelings toward Urban Outfitters. Another special feature of Urban Outfitters is their free music downloads every Monday. This marketing strategy allows customers to view Urban Outfitters as a company that is not only a trendsetter in the fashion industry but also an influence in the music industry. Customers will see Urban Outfitters’ tastes in apparel and music as a way of life and will, thus, increase their inclination towards their products. Urban Outfitters also creates events that are posted on their Facebook page and are open to the public. These events include film screenings or bake sales, in which proceeds were donated to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This marketing strategy promotes Urban Outfitters’ company image as a caring and aware company. Urban Outfitters is very efficient at providing new materials on a regular basis. Their Facebook page is updated two to three times a day, while their website is updated every few weeks. They post photos of their newest lookbooks and new articles on their blog. Because customers see these updates and improvements so often, this maintains customer engagement with their products and promotions.

However, despite maintaining a solid customer base, Urban Outfitters does not have much customer service action on their social media sites. After scrolling through the Facebook page for Urban Outfitters, I did not find comments in which Urban Outfitters respond to their customers, although the page does not address personal complaints. Checking the Twitter page for Urban Outfitters produced a similar result, although there was slightly more customer interaction with retweets. Also, while Urban Outfitters occasionally have blog articles promoting their employees, Urban Outfitters rarely has user-generated content on their social sites. I believe it would benefit the company if there was more customer interaction and feedback on products, events, and such. Overall, Urban Outfitters has efficient marketing strategies and continues to grow its customer base.

Riot’s “League of Legends” – by Benjamin Le

For this assignment I will be evaluating League of Legends use of social media marketing. League of Legends is a video game developed by Riot Games which has gotten very big over the past couple of months and is now one of the most popular games in the world surpassing Starcraft II. I believe Riot is doing an exceptional job of using social media marketing to sell their product to users. One thing that Riot does well is generating new content on a regular basis. Riot is continually releasing new characters to play in their game, new character skins, and releasing new videos on youtube spotlighting characters in the game that keeps the players coming back to check to see if there are new updates. Riot is also good at keeping a portal where they can communicate with their users. They use facebook as a medium to release their updates to the community and the community can post comments regarding the updates. They are also very good at responding to their forum as well. Moderators and game developers continually interact with the community and listen to the communities ideas on how they want the game to be.

Other things that Riot also does well is to create user participation in their events. They do this by supporting e-sports through giving people money to host LAN events and tournaments where some of the best players play against each other. Many players of the game go to the events to see their favorite players duke it out or they watch it on a live stream supported by Riot. They also strongly feature user-generated content as well. Often on their facebook page, they will feature a cosplay of the week and a League of Legends comic of the week as well. They also host a weekly show called “Summoner Showcase” where they feature material from the League of Legends community. One thing that Riot does not do as well is by giving away free things to their users. This is probably because their game is already free to begin with (unless you buy the extras) so that already gives people enough incentive to play the game.

Victoria Secret – by Cherry Hong

Looking at the commercial website of Victoria Secret, I think this commercial page is doing an average job of social media marketing. Its official website offers many premiums such as “free slippers”, “free scarfs” and “free reward cards”. Although these huge headings do attract new users and customers, there are always other requirements that the customers have to meet in order to receive the free items. For example, in order to get a pair of free slippers, you have to purchase pajamas first; you can only get free scarf is you purchase a sweater first, and there are only three color choices. As a result, people may be attracted at first, but after reading the requirements people may not be as enthusiastic as the company expects. There are pages dedicated to “News & Events” and profiles of Victoria Secrets’ supermodels. However, the content just describes what the events are going to be about but not really inviting or calling customers to get involved. There is also a page that lists out all the social media websites that are related to Victoria Secret like “Facebook”, “Twitter” and “YouTube” etc…However, there are no galleries that showcase user-submitted materials on the official website.

On Facebook, Victoria Secret is responsible for posting the photos, not by fans who liked the page. The Customer Service on Victoria Secret’s official page provides a phone number and an email address. It allows people to contact a representative if customers have any problems or concerns. Furthermore, the websites lists out any options that could allow people to receive instant messages and alerts on their mobile devices such as cellphones, iPads or computers. However, besides that function, customers cannot really communicate with representatives or the models of Victoria Secrets. There is active content flow on Victoria Secret’s page. The clothes they sell are constantly being updated and the sale items are being renewed regularly. The websites also posts news about Victoria Secret’s fashion show, which is a festival that attracts millions of viewers each year. Overall, the website is very appealing and engaging; it provides customers a clear view of what they could purchase online and how they could follow updates about the brand. However, the website does not offer a communicative platform.

Club Monaco – by Fung Siu Ting

Club Monaco is a United States Brand founded in 1985 and owned by Polo Ralph Lauren, selling mid-priced, high-end casual clothing. It has a Facebook commercial page allows general public to know the newest company’s information and current trend. According to Club Monaco’s Facebook commercial page, the page is aimed for Club Monaco fans to get advance access to special events, exclusive content, and promotions, besides, wishing them to join the conversation to get inspired.

Club Monaco active participle on Facebook commercial page. Their customer service updates its page everyday. Its Facebook page has lots of information and trend,including photos for new stores and clothings, modeling, and anything special that inspired the designing team.

Club Monaco Facebook page frequently offer free things to customers, at least once a week. It also offers lots of discount code recently for thanksgiving and winter season. To increase public participation, it gives two style of dressing every week for customers to vote, telling the company which one they are more preferred. In the Facebook page, Club Monaco’s customers can freely upload their style with Club Monaco’s clothes and leaving comment, no matter compliments or complaints. Usually, Club Monaco customer service would reply on every photos or comment that people left very fast.

Club Monaco did what it aimed, doing an excellent job in its commercial Facebook page to interact with valued customers, offer give a way and discount code, hold polls, give inspiring ideas and photos frequently.

The Cheese Cake Factory – by Yfenne Lee

I think that the commercial facebook page of The Cheesecake Factory is doing an effective job of social media marketing because it utilizes both mass media communication channel and interpersonal channel efficiently. The page effectively spread knowledge about The Cheesecake Factory with their well organized basic information, company overview, history by year, mission statement, contact info, such as its twitter account and official website. It communicates with a large audience every day with interesting info and irresistible photos of new flavors of cheesecakes, beverages, and more. Interpersonal channels are utilized effectively by allowing users to leave a comment or opinion on their experience dining at The Cheesecake Factory. It makes the page a two-way interactive communication platform for users from all over the world.

Premiums such as Holiday Cheesecakes Sweepstakes were introduced with great prizes of a home entertainment system and a cheesecake a month for a year. The prizes are irresistible and the way to enter the sweepstake is just in few easy steps. Besides that, a bonus entry to the sweepstake is given if participants play the Photo Hunt Game. This is like killing two birds with a stone and it is a win-win situation, as the photos captured with wonderful, broad smiles dining at the restaurant will aid in promoting The Cheesecake Factory, while the participants can increase their chances of winning. Users participation is enhanced by creating events such as Fan of the Month. To be entitled to enter this contest, user first needs to like the page. Then, users have to write a statement of what makes them the fan of the month. I think this is a brilliant idea as to win the title of fan of the month, users will bring the best out of them, writing the best statement related to their love for cheesecake or The Cheesecake Factory. The chosen fan of the month will be featured on their page with information of his or her favorite cheesecake, favorite menu item, and why he or she or their family love cheesecake. The detail descriptions given, adjectives used and the way the fan of the month described their experiences and why certain cheesecake or menu item is their favorite definitely aid in convincing or attracting other users to try out the certain menu item in the future. This idea is great because the marketing itself is done by the consumer, and it is more effective than when the page or the company itself is trying to market themselves or their products by telling the users about their wonderful cheesecakes or menu. I think people tend to lower their skepticism reading information or comments written by other users just like them instead of marketing comments from the company itself, in this case, the indirect marketing strategy of compliments from the fan of the month about their cheesecakes or menu items is accomplished. By generating the contest for fan of the month, the likes by facebook users increase in accordance as liking the page is the first step to enter for the contest. By liking the page, users will receive updates from the page, and thereby increases the size of their audiences.

Another part of user-generated content is generated where they created a user-submitted photo gallery. Once you clicked into the gallery, most of what you will see are photos of families, couples, individuals with happy, priceless expressions, and broad smiles on their faces. The photos submitted make one feel that every diner is enjoying their time at The Cheesecake Factory. User-submitted photos of the menu items or cheesecakes look tempting, besides having positive captions that go together with the photos. Most of the comments complimented the food, thanked the company for those wonderful cheesecakes, and described the awesome time users had in their celebration in the restaurant. Friends of the users or other users liked, commented, and even shared the various photos. This further enhances the positive atmosphere for the company. In addition, there is a platform where users or consumers of the restaurant leave comments or opinions about their experience in relation to the restaurant. There are positive and negative feedbacks generated by the consumers. In my opinion, although there are negative feedbacks, they can still do an effective job of marketing if they solve the problems or face the complaints by consumers straight up in a professional way, as negative feedbacks are unavoidable. By solving the problem or replying to the comments or complaints from the customers after a thorough investigation of the matter, this will even aid in boosting their reputation and image depending on how they handle the negative feedbacks. Proactive problem solving skills are needed because not only you will be able to satisfy the consumers who complained, the comments of how you encounter the matter will be seen by other users too.

They update their page every day, with upcoming or new flavors of cheesecakes, upcoming events like National Cheesecake Day, and other interesting subjects. They also educate the users about frauds on websites that offer discounted gift cards of The Cheesecake Factory. In the mean time of educating users about the fraudulent offers, they market their seasonal “ Slice of Joy” Gift Card offer at the same time in the same post too. The part that I like about their updates is that they post meaningful sayings such as “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” by John F. Kennedy on their page. Another post that I will give my compliment is a post that writes “ No matter who wins today, one thing is clear, -cheesecake is a uniter, not a divider” by The Cheesecake Factory in parallel to the election.

Skittles – by Dominique Francine Martinez

The Skittles Facebook page is generally strong in broadcasting their own content and user generated content, but they are weak in actual interaction with its audience. The page’s strongest points are its content flow and participation. As part of content flow, the page generates a new post at least once a day. There is great variation in their posts which range from questions, facts, quotes, or pictures of items covered in skittles. As part of participation, some of the pages post contain questions and competitions (with no clear prize incentive)such as a “who will be the last to comment” competition that lasted over a year. The page also does a fair job with user-generated content. The page features user-submitted pictures in its profile pictures gallery. These photos are part of either their “greatest fan in the world” or “rainbro of the week” series.

Although the page currently has 23,837,963 likes as of November 11, 2012, it can still improve on developing premiums and participation to keep people coming back to the page. Over the last 2 months, there has not been any signs of freebies being given away to users on the page. However, they do post pictures of Skittles covered items that they give to celebrities like Trey Songs and Cody Simpson. The page’s weakest point is its function as a customer service “portal.” The page does not respond at all to any comments or posts from its users. Despite how many likes the page has, it is not strongly effective because it lacks the interaction and person to person communication that works together with broadcasting in social media marketing.

Red Bull – by Yee Tung Hui

Red Bull,an Australian company, has become a well known energy drink in the past few year. One of their big success in advertising their product could be credited to the social media page they created on the internet, the Facebook page for Red Bull. They certainly did a fantastic job on this website because they accumulated around 33 millions Facebook users to like, or to make association, with their product. Although the company did not give out any premiums to the users, they furnished their webpage with interesting, exciting and up-to-date content. They would generally made two postings on their Facebook page on a daily basis. In order to get more attention from the public, they usually post pictures about different sport events, like skateboard competitions or extreme mountain bike contest that were sponsored by the company.

In addition, their success could be coming from the nice customer service ‘portal’ which they allowed people to interact with their Facebook page. Not only they would challenge the users to comment about a question like ‘Does Red Bull make you bounce off the wall?’ and attached a picture of a professional sport player, who was sponsored by Red Bull, doing different tricks to illustrate the effectiveness of drinking Red Bull. But they would also provide different links to the users and lead them to different channels that get the users involved while the company is commercializing their product unintentionally. For example, they would put up some links that encourage the users to play games, to listen to music channels or to watch sport channels that are sponsored by Red Bull.

Moreover, they managed to make their Facebook page that could only be customized by the administrator of Red Bull company. It means the users can not post any negative comments on the Red Bull Facebook page wall, unless he or she is replying to the post that were generated by the staff member. To conclude, I believe they did a wonderful job in utilizing the social media to sell their product since they minimize the risk for having people to write bad remarks and maximize the possibility for people to discover interesting contents that are associated with their product.

*All photos taken from Facebook

Starbucks – by Jenny Tran

Starbucks has always been known to provide consumers with delicious warm drinks during the cold winter days, and refreshing iced coffees during the warm summer days. While some companies fail to market their company and its products with social media marketing, Starbucks is one of those companies that manage to do it right. The most recent example of Starbucks’ ability to attract customers is by providing a premium. On Thursday, November 15, 2012, Starbucks updated their Facebook feed with the following message: “Share a holiday drink, on us. Buy 1, get 1 today thru Sunday 2-5PM.” Premiums such as these incentivize consumers to take a trip to a local Starbucks where they can receive the benefit of having one free drink. There are several photos on the Starbucks timeline that have been discovered by the Starbucks management via instagram tags or tumblr tags. These photos are then taken with the permission from the owner and published on the Starbucks newsfeed for other customers to see. It is interesting to note that many of these photos have wonderful color schemes consisting of the same colors: red, black, white, and dark brown. By publishing photos taken by customers, it helps Starbucks improve their relationship with customers as it shows that they are appreciative.

Additionally, by allowing customers to post on their page, it opens the door for many comments and concerns, both good and bad. When looking at the comments section on the Facebook page, it is noticeable that Starbucks is not particularly engaging with their customers. Nearly all questions are left unanswered and Starbucks does not take the time to address complaints or concerns. Granted, it may be impossible to answer all questions or criticisms, especially for a company that has received nearly 33 million likes on Facebook. It is disappointing that Starbucks does not attempt to retain their customers by improving their personal relationships and that the only way they are keeping interest in the company is by providing limited “bogo” sales. Furthermore, the Facebook page for Starbucks is continually updated nearly every day. Whether it is uploading a new picture of their drinks, writing statements supporting troops, or raising awareness of national disasters/missing persons, their content flow is both regular and unique. Overall, although there could be some improvements made by the marketing department, Starbucks utilizes social media marketing very well and is quite effective in providing customers with incentives.

Aerie – by Lee Leung

An outstanding social media marketing should attract people to visit its website regularly and draw more viewers through interesting contents. Considering the data from Aerie’s Facebook page, Aerie, as an U.S. underclothing and apparel store chain, targeting young female adults, accomplishes to maintain content flow and cover premiums to update new products’ photos, sales information and discounts. Particularly, with the posts of online special offers, it flourishes the circulation of their official online shopping website.

However, there are several drawbacks of Aerie’s site in terms of participation, user-generated content and customer service “portal.” Only few participatory events are found in the site, like surveys and campaigns. Yet, they either are irrelevant to Aerie’s products or lack of user-generated content. For example, the recent survey, which asks its fans about their thanksgiving plan, absents any core relation of their consumer goods. For stimulating the total participatory rate, it can ask “what are their favorite Aerie’s outfits for thanksgiving”, etc., and require fans to send the picture of it to win the free gifts instead. Moreover, most online campaigns are plain communication, such as choosing their favorite Aerie’s apparels, difficulty maintaining a long dialogue for users to engage in. Once the users answer the questions posted online, they don’t continue to contribute more content on the site. No games or other open discussion forums are created.

Overall, Aerie satisfies users on providing online discounts and free gifts on its Facebook page. Nevertheless, in order to maximize the profit and brand awareness, Aerie can improve the current communicational pattern by generating more opportunities for users to express their ideas and creativity of their products.

Know Your Memes

CINNAMON CHALLENGE by Yfenne Lee

This began to become popular on the Internet around 2006 and 2007. This challenge originally emerged in 2001 in the Cinnamon Challenge 2001 hosted by Michael Buffington, where the contestant was Erik Goodlad. Then, a blog article appeared on Buffington’s blog of the results of the challenge, from there, the story was picked up by Jason Kottke on December 22, 2001.However, only in 2006 that a Youtube version of the Cinnamon Challenge was uploaded, with the title “Pipe Attempts the Cinnamon Challenge” (knowyourmeme.com). Then, people started imitating and attempting the challenge and uploading their videos. This became so popular with the aid of the video sharing community, Youtube and other social media. As this challenge is extremely difficult due to the ability of the cinnamon to dry out the mouth or preventing the formation of saliva (Huget), people often end up coughing, choking, or spitting out in clouds of cinnamon. People might think that it is an easy challenge, where they confidently put the spoonful of cinnamon into their mouth, and then the irritation, burning, and itching effects come by. The various expressions of irritation and pain of the challengers became the moment that are seek by people for their own pleasure, where viewers laugh out of enjoyment seeing the challengers’ in pain such as the expression of the guys in the images below.

Image 1

Cinnamon Challenge is a challenge to swallow a tablespoon full of cinnamon in 60seconds without drinking any liquid or water. Besides, people who accidentally inhale or spit out the cinnamon are considered as failed. The challengers then upload videos of them attempting the cinnamon challenge on Youtube. It became so popular that it even has a Wikipedia page, facebook page, and many websites linking to the Cinnamon Challenge. We can see that this challenge emerged in 2001, but became famous on the Internet in 2007. As the world we are in today is influenced by social media, it experiences social media hype through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and a viral phenomenon in Youtube. TV programs such as Mythbusters and Big Brother UK even documented the Cinnamon Challenge attempts (Fishman).

As we can see from the Google Insights’ Search result, we can see that interest peaks in 2007 and skyrocketed in 2012. The peak in 2007 is said to be corresponding with the most popular Cinnamon Challenge video uploaded in November 2007. There is also a resurgence in the late 2011where the video of Anna Diaz attempting the challenge was uploaded on Youtube where it received 3.9 million views in the first two months, where it is then imitated by other Youtubers (knowyourmeme.com).

Google Insights’ Search:

Google Insights for Cinnamon Challenge

The Cinnamon Challenge videos

This is said to be the most viewed video as it receives over 20milion views until today.

Other  challenges that are influenced by the Cinnamon Challenge are Pepper Spray Challenge and Saltine Cracker Challenge. There are also other memes that emerged with the influence of Cinnamon Challenge such as these listed below:

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Sources:
Fishman, Julie. The 100 Greatest Internet Memes of All Times. Web. 2012.<http://www.complex.com/tech/2012/06/the-100-greatest-internet-memes-of-all-time/the-cinnamon-challenge>.
Sav and Randomman. Cinnamon Challenge.Web. <http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/cinnamon-challenge>.
Huget, Jennifer LaRue. Swallowing Cinnamon by the Spoonful. Web. April5, 2010.<http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/2010/04/swallowing_cinnamon.html>.

CHOCOLATE RAIN by Dominique Francine Martinez

“Chocolate Rain” is an original song written and performed by Tay Zonday. On April 22, 2007, Zonday uploaded a Youtube video of himself singing this song  with an exceptionally deep voice. The video was a straight forward performance with Zonday singing directly into a microphone while wearing a white t-shirt and standing in front of a white curtain. According to knowyourmeme.com, each line of the song repeated the words “Chocolate Rain” followed by a statement or description such as “some stay dry and others feel the pain.” Zonday later revealed that he wrote these lyrics to comment on institutional racism.

According to Google Insights, the video’s search popularity peaked in August of 2007 – four months after its release – due to an article about it in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The video was a viral success, reaching the top 50 most viewed videos of Youtube.

Much of this videos popularity could be attributed to the ways in which the video was parodied in other internet memes. These parodies would mimic memorable elements of the original video such as Zonday’s deep voice, the note which explained that he would move away from the microphone to breathe, and the repetitiveness of the lyric “chocolate rain.”

Since its debut in 2007, the video has reached over 83 Million views on Youtube (as of September 16, 2012). Youtube statistics indicate that most of the viewers are 13-17 year old males, and most views come from the United States.

According to Google Insights, the video is most popular in searches from Hong Kong. The video’s popularity peaked in August of 2007 and continued to be popular until around June of 2008 after Zonday appeared in a music video for the band Weezer. Its search popularity fluctuated for about a year.

Google Insights for Chocolate Rain

Other memes have emerged from this or have been influenced by this:

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Sources: knowyourmeme.com, youtube.com

NYAN CAT by Lee Leung

The YouTube video, “Nyan Cat”, went viral in April 2011. It “merged a Japanese pop song with an animated cartoon cat with the body of  a pop-tart, flying through space and leaving a rainbow trail behind it”, regarding the video description on Wikipedia. The original video was created by Christopher Torres from Texas and it was originally named “Pop Tart Cat”. It hit the top 5 videos on YouTube in 2011 and received over 84 million views in September that year, according to the YouTube database. The ridiculous and adorable animated cat accompanied with the only quirky sound in the video, “nyanyanyan……”, this hilarious combination instantly caught public’s attention and inspired myriad parodies and imitations. Nyan Cat soon influenced Websites and parodies after its emergence. The peak of the videos interest was in June, 2011, afterward, its popularity gradually decreased, It was most popular in Chile and mostly among Western countries, according to Google Insights.

Google Insights: Nyan Cat

Based on its popularity, commercial products, from the Nyan cat progress bar for Windows 7 to Nyan Cat MP3, to Nyan Cats games , to armature’s creations, like the video “Guitarist Eric Calderone shreds Nyan Cat theme,” became great market successes.

Nyan Cat Progress Bar

Nyan Cat Sushi Game

Internet memes related to Nyan Cat or mimicking its characteristic can be found on the Internet easily. Some diagrams display below:

Nyan Cat Auditions

Cat Memes

Nyan Cat Meets Mordor

Besides, fans created “Nyan Cats countries”, which are a series of videos about Nyan cats from different countries, such as Mexican Nyan Cat and American Nyan Cat.

Last but not least, through various tributes and mediums of Nyan Cat found on the Internet, its influence is solid and compelling. From non-Internet products, like the Nyan Cat’s dessert and Nyan Cat’s costume, to online creations, such as the, Nyan Cat 2: Electric Boogaloo meme and the epic, hypnotizing video, Nyan Cat 10 hours, serve as evidence of Nyan Cat’s ubiquitous power.

Nyan Cat Cake

Nyan Cat Cosplay

Nyan Cat 2: Electric Boogaloo

And a ten hour video of Nyan Cat:

I’MMA LET YOU FINISH… by Jenny Tran

Kanye West’s infamous ‘Imma Let You Finish’ meme came from an event that occurred during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. During Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the Best Female Music Video award, Kanye West suddenly went on stage and grabbed the microphone from Swift’s hand. Kanye then yelled out “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best music videos of all time.” As Taylor Swift was a popular country artist amongst the U.S. population, backlash against Kanye arose immediately afterwards.  The President of the United States was also overheard calling Kanye a ‘jackass’ for stealing the spotlight from Taylor Swift.

Kanye Interrupting

The meme was generated a day after Kanye’s outburst at the MTV Video Music Awards. His words were turned into a snowclone (phrasal templates in which certain words may be replaced with another to produce new variations).

It had the following format:“Yo A, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish, but B is the best C of all time. OF ALL TIME.”

Google Insights on I’mma Let You Finish Meme

The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards took place on September 13, 2009, and on the same day, celebrities such as Katy Perry, Dane Cook, and Ricky Martin took to Twitter to comment on West’s rude behavior. According to knowyourmeme.com, Kanye West was a top trending topic on September 14-15, 2009 with 293,024 tweets about the rapper within an hour of the incident.

This meme has sparked other ones, such as:

Kanye vs Einstein

Kanye vs Dumbledore

Kanye vs Xzibit

PLANKING by Benjamin Le

Planking is the act of lying face down in an unusual location. The person who is planking attempts to act like a wooden plank by keeping their arms to the side of their bodies and by trying to keep their bodies as straight and level as possible. The “planker” will perform this act and have another person photograph the act in order to post it online. Examples of unusual planking locations include but are not limited to: roads, benches, coffee tables, monkey bars, etc. According to Facebook’s “official” page in planking, there are six rules regarding planking.

1. You must always lay face down, ensuring your face remains expressionless for the duration of the Plank.
2. Your legs must remain straight, and together with toes pointed.
3. Your arms must be placed by your side, held straight and fingers pointed.
4. You must make it known that you are Planking. Saying ‘I am Planking’ usually get this across. Sternly announcing it will ensure a good result.
5. Your safety should always be considered. Properly thought through Planking procedures should always go to plan. Never put your self at undue risk.
6. Every Plank that is captured must be named.

Some examples of planking are show below.

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History of Planking

Planking originated from the Lying Down Game, a popular fad within the UK and its territories in 2010, where the player would lie down in unusual places and photograph himself/herself. The term “planking” was not widely used to coin the act until Spring 2011, when planking hit worldwide.  The initial popularity explosion occurred in Australia, where the official Facebook page of planking added 130,000 new likes in less than a week. This popularity boost has been accredited to pro-rugby player David Williams who would plank during games in the Spring of 2011.  Planking grew quickly between Spring 2011 and  the end of that year,  with its popularity peaking during the Summer of 2011 according to Google Insights. After 2011, planking’s popularity waned as cousin memes such as “owling” and “batmanning” took its place.

Why was planking so popular? Perhaps it is because of the ease of participation in the planking meme. You didn’t have to know how to auto tune a video of film a parody. As the saying goes, if you have a body, you have a plank. All it takes is a friend, a camera, a body, and an Internet connection to participate in this worldwide sensation. Another possible reason in planking’s rise in popularity is because of its appeal to exhibitionism. All it takes is one good photo in a good location and one’s planking photo could become one of the most popular in the world. A nobody could easily gain 15 minutes of fame with just a camera. Planking also received a lot of media attention from celebrities throughout Hollywood. Endorsed by stars such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown, planking easily spread throughout the youth.

Google Insights: Planking

Cousin Memes of Planking

Owling

Batmanning

Tebowing

Griffining

CASUALLY PEPPER SPRAY EVERYTHING COP by Tien Chang

In late fall of 2011, Occupy demonstrations occurred throughout the United States. Protestors camped on symbolic public grounds to decry the financial gap between the wealthy 1% and the less-wealthy 99% of the United States population. Universities were dominant areas for these protests, and such a demonstration took place on November 18th at the University of California, Davis campus. As a part of the protest, students linked arms, sat down, and refused to move despite police warnings.  Lieutenant John Pike and another officer of the UC Davis Police force then employed pepper spray onto the students from a close distance as they tightly tucked their heads down towards their chests. The photo captured quickly became a meme.

This meme spread rapidly in support of the Occupy protestors. From previous Occupy demonstrations, there were reports of unwarranted police brutality, such as that that occurred during the Occupy Cal demonstration, which happened a week before the Occupy Davis demonstration. Sentiments for students facing these situations and growing anger at university and police responses were high. Another factor of this meme’s popularity is the humor in how the officer seems to be leisurely strolling while causing students physical harm. His nonchalance manner had the public ready to ridicule and criticize his behavior.

The original photo, taken by Louise Macabitas, was posted to Reddit a day after the incident. By the next day, photoshopped versions of the photo were posted to Reddit, and within a month, multiple versions of the meme surfaced. By November 21st, some users of Amazon.com began writing parody reviews of the pepper spray canister brand that Lieutenant Pike used on the students. Meme versions of the photo were also uploaded as customer images of the product. The meme became as widespread as to the creation of a fake Twitter account, @PepperSprayCop, with satiric content. In three days the account gained more than 130 followers. A new meme that emerged from “Casually Pepper Spray Everything Copy” was the “X, Essentially” meme. On November 21st, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly spoke about the incident on The O’Reilly Factor. At one point in the talk, she states pepper spray as “a food product, essentially.” Mockery of her statement was made into spoof macro images, in which important social issues were dismissed by light euphemism.  By analyzing the Google Insight on “pepper spray cop” and related searches, it seems that the phase died down by April 2012.

Google Insights for Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop

Spraying the Declaration of Independence

Seen in public art

Photoshopped Pepper Spraying

Fox News’ “X, Essentially” Meme

Fox News’ “X, Essentially” Meme

GINGERS DO HAVE SOULS by Cherry Hong 

An 18-year-old boy who used the pseudonym CopperCab posted a YouTube video “Gingers Do Have Souls” on January 14, 2010, fervently expressing his anger towards red-headed discrimination. The expression “Gingers have no souls” originally came from an episode named “Ginger Kids” from the American animated sitcom South Park in 2005.

The reason why I believe the clip became extremely popular is because the manner the boy exhibited his frustration. CopperCab gained a large amount of negative comments from other Youtube users who argued that CopperCab seems to consider “gingers” as a distinct race. While neglecting the fact that other races or groups have been facing much more serious discrimination and prejudice for a long period of time, CopperCab made such a great deal about redheads being called soulless. Moreover, CopperCab claims that he has considered committing suicide because the tease and humiliation has gotten so heartbreaking yet he contradicts himself by saying that the negative comments and abusive remarks do not affect him or annoy him. He also yells “I’m a ginger and proud!” repetitively while ranting about how he could no long bear the intolerance in the video. The apparent contradictions and immature presentation of CopperCab did not win sympathy towards his situation but negative reaction and mockeries.

The 2005 South Park episode “Gingers kids” starts with a school presentation about “ginger kids” by one of the characters called Eric Cartman. “Gingers kids”, as described in the animation, are children with red hair, light skin and freckles. In the episode, Eric uses expressions such as “sick”, “nasty”, “yuck” and “gross” to describe this particular group of children. Eric also introduces a disease called “Gingervitis”, a disease that Ginger kids are born with and could not be cured because they have no souls. In Eric’s conclusion, he says that Ginger kids creep people out, make people sick to their stomachs and are cursed.

As a reaction to this episode, CopperCab, an 18-year-old boy makes the YouTube video called “Gingers Do Have Souls”, in which he claims that he has been teased at school due to the fact he is a Ginger and he is extremely irritated by this discrimination. The video is shoot by himself in an outdoor setting (possibly a back alley); the device is likely to be his cell phone or a digital camera held by himself. He starts the video by saying that it really annoys him that South Park would say Gingers do not have souls because he does have a soul. Suddenly, he starts yelling that “Gingers have souls! I am a Christian!” while pointing finger at the camera. He then starts swearing in cursive words and demands for a reason why people would discriminate against redheads. Moreover, he says that every other group gets respect, such as Mexicans, black people and white people and he is tired of being called in such a demeaning term. However, he then contradicts himself by saying he identifies himself as a Ginger and he is very proud of this fact.

The video “Gingers Do Have Souls” now has more than 3.6 million views on YouTube. According to “Google Insights” interest, the video has the greatest influence in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. It was most popular when it came out in early 2010 and its popularity eventually diminishes as time goes. The video “Gingers Do Have Souls” quickly acquired over 3.1 million views on YouTube and triggered more than 600 response videos within one month. Furthermore, the clip had over 210,000 comments and stirred controversies regarding the issue presented. Because of its popularity, there are custom T-Shirts and other merchandise inspired by “Gingers Do Have Souls”.

Google Insights on Gingers Do Have Souls

The video quickly elicited many comments and prompted hundreds of response videos. I did not find other memes that may have emerged from this but there are many parodies of the video and response videos made both by other people and CopperCab. As a reaction to all the negative feedback, CopperCab made another video called “Attention Haters” in which he expressed his anger towards people who judged him and his video negatively. In “Attention Haters”, CopperCab claims that he has got same right as everyone else so he could make videos whenever he wants and whatever he wants to. Claiming that he has the right to express himself in any way he wishes to, CopperCab says he is not going to coward down and he does not care what other people say. He says that South Park has created a new type of stereotype and he strongly believes since it is not acceptable to make fun of Blacks, Mexicans and Chinese so it is not acceptable to discriminate against Gingers as well. Both the original video “Gingers Have Souls” and “Attention Haters” have been made into remix rap versions.

Another interesting response video is uploaded on Youtube by the parents of CopperCab named “Apology for our ‘ginger’ son, Michael (CopperCab)”. These two adults started the video by “issuing a formal apology” for their son CopperCab and they claimed that he was raised better. His mother says she does understand his anger because being a Ginger is very difficult. However they started yelling, swearing and breaking into a rage of ginger pride. Furthermore, a ginger-haired Eric mocked CopperCab’s “Gingers Do Have Souls” as a promotional video for South Park’s 14th season.

Gingers Have Souls

Gingers Have Souls

Gingers Have Souls 2

Gingers DO Have Souls

Cartman and Gingers

ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US by Dorothy Ginger Tu

This meme came from a mistranslated (Japanese to English) subtitle in a game that was released in 1989. Drawing from “Engrish” elements, its popularity started in forums in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Steve Caires had introduced the concept of “Engrish” in 1996 through his blog, filling it with pictures of mistranslated commercial signs, products, etc. His blog got popular enough and the masses began to enjoy these ridiculous translations. This popular humor set a precedent for accepting “All Your Base” as an internet phenomenon and meme.

Example of mistranslation [engrish.com]

The poorly translated lines of this game were introduced later to a video games website (Rage Games) in gif form, which depicted its graphics and poor translations. It really became popular once it reached multiple forums like Something Awful and TribalWar in late 2000, where users with Photoshop skills helped create more than 2000 variations of the meme, effectively democratizing the meme. Thus it drew its popularity from the Photoshop trend at the time and helped propel photoshopped images into a traditional medium of internet memes. I believe the effectiveness of this phenomenon resided in the fact that its variations were based in real-life landmarks or objects.

“All Your Base Are Belong To Us” is a line taken from the introduction of a game called Zero Wing, which was translated badly from Japanese to English. While the other lines in the introduction were also badly translated, this one was particularly laughable because it is threateningly spoken by the villain of the game, CATS; because of its Engrish, it could not be taken seriously by the players and viewers. Following the release of the music video created by Bac_CRC of TribalWar (shown further up), it was picked up by multiple news sources like Wired.com, The Guardian, and USA Today.

Here is Chicago Fox News Channel’s take on it:

Google Insights only tracks its popularity in the world from 2004 to the present as opposed to 2000 to the present. We see that the United States has the most regional interest, which makes sense because the US was where most of the news publicity occurred (described further down).

Google Insights (Worldwide) on All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Here are the statistics for the United States since 2004. We can see that the trend remains similar between worldwide and United States’ statistics. For some reason, Utah has the most regional interest. I have no idea why this is.

Google Insights (US) for All Your Base Are Belong To Us

In both cases, we see that its popularity was still high between the years 2003 and 2004. In 2003, a group of young men posted signs of “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” all over a small town in Michigan. The residents were upset and misinterpreted the signs as terrorist threats and found them offensive to those serving in the military. This gross misunderstanding in the public might have sparked an interest. Then in 2004, North Carolina State University students hijacked a station’s newscast to display “All Your Base Are Belong To Us,” among other 1337 texts, instead of the programmed weather news. Again, this probably sparked the public’s interest and pushed them towards the internet.

This meme has also sparked a remix of “Snakes on a Plane,” which is another popular internet meme. This popular mashup video combined both memes.

Another line from the video game that became popular was “For Great Justice,” which became its catchphrase and functioned as its own meme. It was also used as skills/spells in MMOS like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars.

As on urbandictionary.com

It has also been reproduced in other meme forms, such as:

Gameshow Exploitables: All Your Base Style [uploaded by MDFIfication on knowyourmeme.com]

Philosoraptor – All Your Base Style [uploaded by MDFification on knowyourmeme.com]

Now, the meme is not as popular (as shown in above Google Insights image), as the proliferation of more current memes rely on the use of macroimage and meme generators rather than manually photoshopping “All Your Base.” However, it still lives on as a classic.

Source: knowyourmeme.com, h2g2.com, urbandictionary.com, wwmt.com, theregister.co.uk

EPIC BEARD MAN (AND AMBER LAMPS) by Fung Siu Ting

Iyanna Washington (YouTube user “iyannaw08”), a college student from Oakland, uploaded a video titled “AC TRANSIT BUS FIGHT I AM A MOTH****CKER” on February 16, 2010, featured an altercation between a 50-year-old black man and a 67-year-old white man.

In the video, the white man was wearing a light blue T-shirt that reads as “I AM a Moth****cker” on the back, sitting across from the black man. Their conversation was unclear at the beginning of the video, but quickly become heated and the black man asked the white man angrily, “Why a brother gotta spit-shine your shoes?” Obviously their argument is related to racism.

The altercation was finally resulted in a violent physical confrontation. The white man repeatedly punched the black man in the face, and black man was failed to fight back. The black man said “bring ambulance” after he broke his nose in the fight. However, his speech had been misheard as “bring M&M’s” or “bring Amber Lamps” due to his facial injury.

The video amassed over 1 million views within the first 24 hours. As of September 18, 2012, the video has received over 5.9 million views, more than 9,8000 comments on YouTube. The top three audiences’ locations are United States, Canada and United Kingdom, mostly male aged 25-54.  This video became a viral video and gained lots amount of conversation in a short time mainly because their argument involved racism.

Google Insights for Epic Beard Man

The older white man in the video was identified as Thomas Bruso later, but he was dubbed as Epic Beard Man by Anonymous after the spread of the video.

Memes emerged from Epic Beard Man:

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Some people created videos to share their views of the video:

Amber Lamps later referred to as an unknown fashion-dressed young woman who briefly appeared in the background of the video, showing low attention to the argument that only few feet away from her seat.

Google Insights for search (hit over time):

Google Insights on Amber Lamps

On the same day as the video uploaded, Amber Lamps fans pages was launched and created a definition entry for the nickname on Urban Dictionary.

Facebook page for Amber Lamps

urbandictionary.com on Amber Lamps

Some 4chan users also began posting close-up screenshots of that unknown woman. Different media has been created related to Amber Lamps, such as videos and memes.

Close-up of Amber Lamps

Amber Lamps Meme

Amber Lamps Meme 2

Amber Lamps Meme 3

CHUCK NORRIS FACTS by Yee Tung Hui

Chuck Norris

What is Chuck Norris Facts?

Chuck Norris Facts are factoids that embracing how Chuck Norris acts in charisma way. Chuck Norris facts were made into memes with exaggerate expression, for example, there is one saying ‘some magicians can walks on water, Chuck Norris can swims through land.’ Chuck Norris is portrait as Mr. Incredible on the Internet. The factoids describe him as the legendary person who was born with super-natural ability and he is able to conquer             anything in the universe.

Chuck Norris Knows

Chuck Norris Was Here

Coming of Chuck Norris Facts

Chuck Norris Fact receives attention since 2004, after Conan O’Brien, a famous talk show host; who tells jokes out of the television series ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ starred by Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris start to build popularity among the virtual world. Chuck Norris Facts are not widely spread throughout the Internet until 2006, everything was triggered by a movie named ‘Pacifier’ come out on 2005, starred by Vin Diesel. This movie talks about             the Navy-SEAL, played by Vin Diesel, turned babysitter as an undercover agent. People found this idea to be absurd and started to make up joke about it. Mr. Ian Spector as one of the Internet users had decided to start an online forum to discuss this topic and named it ‘Post your Van Diesel Fact’. This forum had reached a very large population during the late 2005. But soon after, people started to lost interest in it and the number decline. In order to keep the audience and its popularity, Mr. Ian Spector started a poll asking the public who should be the next ‘fact-generator’. Although Chuck Norris was not even on the list of choices, he won the poll and became a popular figure for meme among the Internet user.

Meme emerge from Chuck Norris Facts

Chuck Norris Facts has influence lots of audience to create their own memes emerges from the original one. Just like the meme for an Indian actor Rajinikanth also a fictional character Doctor Who, they are also portrait as the influential figures who represent toughness and intelligent.

Popularity of Chuck Norris Facts

Chuck Norris Facts meme gained lots of popularity during the 2006, as follow-on to replace the ‘Vin Diesel Facts’ hot trend by that time. Although the popularity of Chuck Norris Facts had gone down rapidly half year later, the fluctuation which show in Google   interest insight graph implies that once in a while, this meme were being brought up by the user again. It is very different from the graph that displays the popularity of Vin Diesel facts, very flat from mid 2005 until now. I believe the reason for this meme to reach its popularity, since, the 2004 is because Chuck Norris had established the ‘hero-like’ image in general public by the time he act in the television series ‘ Walker Texas Ranger’.  More importantly, Conan O’Brien invited him to the talk show at the right timing and more people get to know more about him. He was able to use the social media to advertise about himself.

Google Insights on Chuck Norris

Google Insights on Van Diesel

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Tien Chang

Cherry Hong

Yee Tung Hui

Benjamin Le

Yfenne Lee

Lee Leung

Dominique Francine Martinez

Fung Siu Ting

Jenny Tran

Dorothy Ginger Tu