Popularity spikes hurt future chances for viral propagation of protomemes

  • Michele Coscia
  • Communications of the ACM, December 2017, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)
  • DOI: 10.1145/3158227

Successful Memes have to Constantly Innovate to keep being Successful

What is it about?

We look at what happens to meme the day after they hit the front page on Reddit. What happens is that more people will use the meme. As a consequence, the attention to the meme is diluted to many posts, and each one of them is less likely to go viral again. The exceptions are posts that use the meme in highly unusual (innovative) ways.

Why is it important?

Knowing how and why memes go viral is a fundamental piece in our understanding on how culture is shaped and evolves. Every complex endeavor needs the cooperation between different individuals, and shared cultural norms make this collaboration happen seamlessly. If we are able to prevent the spread of bad memes and favor the spread of good memes, society can be measurably improved.


Michele Coscia
Harvard University

This is part of my ongoing quest in trying to find out what makes memes go viral. So far I successfully established what *prevents* them to go viral. The rest will follow... Any day now...

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