Watching nametags go viral in real time is a fascinating thing.
It’s happened to me hundreds of times over the years, from everything to weddings, conference, bars, offices, street parties and a number of other public events. It all starts with patient zero, yours truly, who is responsible for the initial transmission of the idea.
One guy who is silly enough to put on the sticker and risk being ridiculed. Now, because a meme is the basic unit of imitation, in other words, a piece of information that copies itself and get created in other people’s minds, here’s what typically happens next in the virality process.
Somebody’s first impression of the nametag meme demands further investigation. And so, they approach me, greet me by first name, ask what the deal is, and if that story resonates with them, they ask if they can have a nametag too.
Of course they can. Here you go. Have fun!
This person is essential. They are my first follower, and they have a critical role. To sell my nametag idea to everyone else. To show others how to follow.
It reminds me of one company holiday party from a few years ago. There were six hundred employees from fifteen countries at my startup, many of whom were meeting for the first time. Myself included.
Matter of fact, it was only my first week on the job. Combine that with the language barrier, and you’ve got one hell of a communication problem.
Unless you bring nametags. And so, about twenty minutes after that critical first person came up and asked for a sticker, there was a palpable increase in momentum. Strangers who didn’t speak my language were marching right up to me with smiles on their faces and their hands held out like bellboys hoping for a tip.
Where’s my nametag? Do you have any more nametags? My coworker got a sticker, and I want one too!
The highlight for me was when the drunken Russian goddess in the red dress who looked like a femme fatale from a bond movie, tapped me on the shoulder and simply said.
You have nametag for me?
Yes. Please don’t shoot.
By the time dessert was served, over a hundred people at the party had nametags on. It was awesome. People still talk about that night to this day.
Here’s what’s critical to this story.
Over time, the nametag wasn’t about me, it was about them. My followers, so to speak, weren’t following me as much as they were following each other. And at a certain point, they were missing out on the fun by not joining in.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who’s following the people who follow you?