Universally Specific

Last week I promised to show you some practical examples of how to mine memes for content.

So, this week I’m going to share my favorite thing to steal from memes: Universally Specific content.

What’s that?

It’s content that has broad appeal because it’s relatable while also being oddly specific. This kind of content is powerful because specifics hit harder than generalities. It’s also excruciatingly difficult to create from scratch. Thus, why we’re going to farm the concepts from already popular memes.

What are the benefits of being Universally Specific?

Marketing, at its core, is about getting the public to like you better than your competitor. So, when it comes to messaging it’s ideal to cast as large a net as possible. (Side note: You cannot appeal to everyone. If you attempt to write to everyone, you’ll reach no one. Choose who to lose.)

Ready for some examples?

See how oddly specific this scenario is?

And yet, who doesn’t have at least one or two “good boxes” sitting around because they’d be perfect for an imaginary future use?

Why would we do that?

It’s our nature to hold onto things of perceived value that we’ve gotten for free. It feels like a bonus. Especially when it’s something we’d never make a special trip to the store for, or we don’t even know where to buy one from in the first place. Better hold onto it.

Here’s another one:


You too?

Because when we’re really enjoying a meal, or anything else for that matter, we want the last bite to be the best in hopes it’ll prolong the pleasant experience.

How about this one:

At the core, people bond with inanimate objects for ridiculous reasons. Which is why, even if this specific scenario hasn’t happened to you, you can understand and relate to it.

Speaking of forming emotional bonds:

Book. TV show. Movie. Doesn’t matter. It feels like we’ve been wronged when a favorite character gets killed off. So, yes. I do deserve compensation even though I’m the one who chose to read the book of my own free will.

Did you notice the common theme?

Oddly specific scenarios that are universally relatable.

It doesn’t matter what sex, religion, ethnicity, or political party you are. Because these hit on the human side of things.

Because these are highly specific scenarios, it feels like finding your tribe when you relate to one of the examples. Unlike something more general, like breathing air. (You like breathing air? Oh, that’s nice and now I still know nothing about you.)

The takeaway?

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or who your customers are. Memes may have a copywrite, but no one owns the concepts. So, mine memes for content ideas. The human side of things that your customers can relate to.

And when they relate to something you’ve shared, then in a small way they’ll feel not alone.

And making people feel not alone makes you inherently likable.

 – Zac Smith, VC