Meme Feeds

Meme accounts (AKA meme feeds) have been appearing on social networks, especially Instagram.  Meme accounts are also becoming attractive for brands and publishers who are seeking a better ROI compared to “influencers” who aren’t getting the results they once did.

You know memes, right? They are things, often witty or humorous, like an image, video, small piece of text that is copied (often with slight variations) and spreads rapidly by social media users.

A brand is probably no better at creating a meme than any of us are at creating a viral video. It just happens.

But with a meme, the wit comes more naturally when crowdsourced. Meme accounts are people who aggregate a meme.

Of course, social media sites also aggregate memes. Twitter has trending hashtags, such as #BlackGirlsRock or a brand meme like Subway’s #SubTheBurger campaign.

And a meme account saves money.  “For 1 million followers, you could be paying $15,000 to a human influencer, and for 1 million followers on a meme account you’d be paying about $1,000,” said Tim Armoo, CEO of influencer platform Fanbytes.

Of course, what we still want is engagement. The engagement rate is calculated as LIKES + COMMENTS divided by the number of followers.   1000 likes + 100 comments divided by 250 followers would give you a nice engagement rate of 4.4%.

Some numbers found online say that the engagement rate is 3.5 percent for the cool meme accounts and that is equal to mainstream influencers doing the same kind of posting. Brand-sponsored meme posts only have an engagement rate of 1.7 percent.


Better Blogging

laptop writing

Over the 12 years that I have been blogging, I have read about the rise of the blog and the fall/end of the blog several times. As I watch blogging go through the “hype cycle” (that branded tool created by Gartner), what remains consistent is what makes a good blog and blogger.

That cycle is said to be:

  1. Technology Trigger
  2. Trough of Disillusionment: a time of some disappointment
  3. Slope of Enlightenment: it becomes more broadly understood and used
  4. Plateau of Productivity

I would say that blogging has been through all 4 and has returned to 2-4 again. Right now, it sits on that Plateau of Productivity. They are used for personal and business reasons.

What makes a better blog? The so-obvious-it-is-overlooked key to a good blog is that it has good content. I would overlap this with having regular content.

If you don’t have something useful to say, don’t post.

I schedule my posts so that there is regular content. On one of my blogs, that means 2 or 3 posts every weekend, but on others that means one per week. I am blogging several times a day, but not on a single blog, but across them.

When all this Web 2.0 began, one of the things that was appealing about writing a blog was that you could have subscribers who could follow your posts and receive them through email or a reader app. This ability (via RSS) gives you a powerful push technology that had previously been something only the big media newspapers and magazines could use.

But you won’t hold onto followers (“subscribers” seems to have fallen away – perhaps because it implies payment) if they don’t get something on a regular basis to read.

When your blog has some readers and a decent archive of posts, you can start to get a sense by looking at the analytics about what posts get the most attention and what search queries brought them to your blog. Does that mean you should change what you write based on those stats? It depends.

If your blog is about hiking the Appalachian Trail but the greatest attention goes to posts about equipment should you turn it into an equipment blog? I wouldn’t. But I would consider having regular equipment posts and perhaps working equipment into other posts.

Include images in your posts. They do attract attention. Make sure you have the rights to those images. The best thing to do is use your own, but otherwise use images from some of the royalty-free sites (Pixabay, Pexels and others) and Creative Commons.

This is also true for videos. Use your own or embed ones from YouTube and Vimeo or any site that allows this.

Social Media is required. All your posts should be shared on multiple social media platforms available. This can be your personal social accounts, but I would advise creating new ones for the blog, especially if it is a project or business. If I follow your blog on Twitter but many of the posts are about you, your family, your politics etc., I will unfollow you. My blog, Endangered New Jersey, has its own Twitter account separate from my personal one.

My blog analytics show me that besides Google searches most of my traffic comes from Facebook and Twitter with a bit from LinkedIn.


Some bloggers send out a newsletter, but I’m not a fan of them. You can share the best content of the week. MailChimp is a popular way to do that and it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.

You should always use categories and keyword tags on posts. As the blog grows, people will often follow a category or tag, and it’s great to be able to find other related content with a click.



Don’t ignore word-of-mouth for your marketing. It is powerful. You might want to have guest bloggers write occasionally. “Experts” attract attention and add authority to your site.  You might also be a guest blogger on other sites.

Comments are controversial. I have blogs where I had to shut off commenting due to the amount of spam that hit. If your blog doesn’t get a lot of traffic, you can probably set comments to be approved before they post. I do that on several blogs. WordPress is quite good about snagging blatant spam and it doesn’t take long to approve the comments I do get. Comments are a good thing, when the comments are good.  Engagement with your readers is very good.


Targeting Niche Social Networks


By definition, a niche is a smaller specialized subset of a larger set. People who do nude yoga would be a niche community compared to those who do any type of yoga. There are plenty of niche social networks that target a select segment of the general population. Every marketing person knows that being to target a more specific audience for your products that matches your desired user is essential. In social media, using niche social networks is one way to do that.

Anyone on the Internet knows there are plenty of dog and cat lovers posting to Facebook, Instagram etc. But those owners may also use Dogster , a social network for the dog lover and Catster for the kitty crowd.

Why should we as social media designers know about these niche networks? Because you or your clients definitely fit into some niches. Certainly, a pet store should be active in niche pet networks. This can be a place to share your expertise and drive readers to your own site.

I use Goodreads which is a well established site that connects readers.  It’s a great place to have a profile if you’re a bookstore, author or publisher.

Dribbble  is one of many niche sites for designers.

Interested in knitting and crocheting?  Ravelry and other online network for knitters and crocheters would also be a good place for fashion designers who work within these mediums.

Letterboxd is for the film buff and people have film diaries and share lists and connect with other movie lovers.

Restaurants, bars and clubs all have niche networks, such as Fubar which has over 9 million registered members. That seems like a big niche. Fubar claims it is the world’s largest online bar – an odd concept in itself.

The DIY audience is so big that it has many niches. Curbly is a broader DIY social network, and Instructables is a place to share what you make, whether that’s music, games, robots, woodworking or whatever.

The point is that whatever your particular interest or business focuses on, there are viable smaller networks than Facebook or Facebook groups to connect with people. You should broaden your own business “keywords” too. You’re promoting a neighborhood restaurant? Sure, you should check out Yelp and any area networks, but you could also consider posting some of your favorite dishes to a place like All Recipes. That is a very large recipe sharing network that DIY chefs will use, but is also a place for foodies. More than half of the people watching cooking shows will never cook the recipes. But they will look for those dishes the next time they are dining out.

Niche social networks make their money the same way the big networks do – advertising. But what they can offer is a very defined audience, rather than an ad broadcast to an audience containing many people who are not interested. yes, Google, Facebook and all the others do work on better understanding users’ tastes, but a niche network already knows its audience. A network such as Black Planet has music, jobs, forums, chat, photos, dating personals and groups all targeted to the specific interests of the Black community. If that is part of your demographic reach for your business or a particular campaign, that’s a good place to use.


Making Learning Visible to Increase Student Engagement

I gave a presentation on “Making Learning Visible to Increase Student Engagement” at the NJEDge Faculty Showcase this year.  I was partly inspired by the educational research from the Project Zero group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I talked about using a public forum in both undergraduate and graduate online and face-to-face classes (at NJIT and at Montclair State University) and having students publicly reflect on their learning experiences.

Requiring students to document their work in a class forum immediately changes student ownership of their work. This type of documentation makes learning visible, rather than the private 1:1 relationship that assessment and evaluation often has between a student and instructor.  I explained the documentation and process reflection methodology and showed student examples. This practice borrows on earlier use of and the pedagogy of portfolios.

The Making Learning Visible (MLV) Project was based on collaborative research between Project Zero researchers and educators from the Municipal Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. MLV investigated how best to understand, document, and support individual and group learning for children and adults. I read about it in Making Thinking Visible and Visible Learners. The five key principles are that learning is purposeful, social, emotional, empowering, and representational.

In particular, the aspect of learning and teaching in MLV that I identify most strongly with is the role of observation and documentation in deepening and extending learning.

Documentation involves one or more specific questions that guide the process, often with an epistemological focus (questions on learning).

Documentation also involves collectively analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating individual and group observations. Serendipitously, the keynote speaker at the Showcase was Etienne Wenger-Trayner who is a leader in the field of social learning theory, and coined the term “communities of practice,” and their application to organizations.

This process is strengthened by multiple perspectives and so it is necessary to make the learning visible. It becomes public when it is shared with other learners, parents, teachers or the public.

Prompting reflective thinking during learning helps learners develop strategies to apply new knowledge to the complex situations in their day-to-day activities. Reflective thinking helps learners attach new knowledge to prior understanding, and also understand their own thinking and learning strategies.

I find that this practice is also very beneficial to me as an instructor in grading student work as it reveals the hidden process that cannot be seen in only grading a final product.

Ultimately, I have found that this is another way to promote student engagement. Teachers in K-12 have known intuitively that displaying student work lets students know that their work is valued and that the classroom space is shared.