Obama Shows How to Control a Meme

Last month, during the hot and heavy negotiations on the Sequester budget cuts, President Obama made a bit of a faux pas when he said “The fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.” So, the President mixed his Star Wars and Star Trek analogies and in the age of social networks with so many geeks online, this kind of thing will take off like wildfire, as it did.

Anything you say or do online can become a meme instantly and the more famous you are, the more likely it will happen. Within minuets of the statement, there were Obama with a lightsaber and Obama with Spock ears all over the Net. But then the Whitehouse did something brilliant, they took back the meme for themselves. They created their own image with a photo of Obama with his hand in a position almost like he was doing a mind meld. They created a hashtag (#JediMindMeld and a web address (wh.gov/jedimindmeld). They went all in and completely stole back the thunder for themselves. Some might have seen this small misstep as a crisis and moved to control and spin it. That’s old media thinking. In the new social world, you need to ride that wave and make it yours. Social networks can be your worst enemy or your best friend. It’s all depending on how you react and use them for your own needs. From the beginning, the Obama team has shown a mastery of the Connected World and that continues to this day.


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