Lessons from Book Quote’s Viral FB Meme


The Book Quote Game Goes Viral in Facebook

Virally speaking based on watching my own response along with others in my social graph, a clever little meme called the “Book Quote Game” is exploding over on Facebook. Over the weekend a quick challenge gambit  appeared in my Facebook socialgraph and I took it. I responded in to a friend’s post asking me to find a random but specifically-placed quote from “a book near me.”

What followed surprised me: within 12 hours 18 others added their quotes–more comments than my FB posts usually get; their socialgraph represents 3641 people and inspired another 23 comments. I didn’t crawl their comments to see the network effect in added reach, but if we use the averages based on mine, the echo would include another 9300 in reach. With an average friend duplication of 7.75% you still reach over 10,000 people per post in the first two generations of the meme. Because the active socialgraph/profile will bury this meme, it needs to reappear at different times, which it does as others replicate and comment. I expect to see this meme come back around many times in the coming months.

More surprising is that this isn’t even a Facebook application. It’s an activity that’s as catchy as an application but relies on The Groundswell to crawl all the SocialNetwork’s carriers to produce the Metacalfe effect. So, without any programming and low-production content you can create a viral campaign by following the best practices of The Book Quote Game.

I’ll give more evidence and details then see if there are best practices that can be applied for Marketers. Please add your reactions below in the comments area as well.

The “Book Quote Game” is simple: find the 5th sentence on page 56 of a book near you, add it to your friend’s note/comments and repost it on your Facebook page ensuring delivery to your socialgraph. You can click into the image to see more how this works, but for the text crawlers and image-challenged, here are the rules:

    • Grab the book nearest you. Right now. <comment: love the Call To Action & Immediacy>
    • Turn to page 56. <comment: love the Randomness>
    • Find the fifth sentence. <comment: love the Specificity>
    • Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall, and post your sentence in a comment here as well. <comment: love the Virality>
    • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. <comment: love the Authenticiy>

Best Practices I believe can be applied more broadly for SocialMedia and Digital Marketers:


  • Clear Call to Action-this is the essence of and direct response program and needs to find its way into the application-level design/UX
  • Immediacy-Do it now. In the fast-paced, short-attention-span, microformat and ephemeral nature of updates, if you blink you miss it.
  • Randomness-This creates game-play along with the simple challenge. Better, this is randomness generated by the crowd.
  • Specificity-Acts as a boundary and “control” against the randomness while adding the signifiers of game play
  • Viral/Socialgraph Prompts-Like the call to action, create activities optimized to socialgraph carriers for the message/meme. In this case, it’s through commenting, walls and the note application. Photo sharing and tagging would work in other instances.
  • Authenticity-in this case there wasn’t a commercial benefit to a marketer, but it still demanded authenticity in the form of not trying to look smart, pithy, cool, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask people to “keep it real.”

This game exploits the Technographics Ladder for “creators,” “critics,” “joiners” and “spectators” as well as the SocialMedia dynamics of microformats and status. I wouldn’t be surprised if this little meme moves towards Twitter.

There are probably other lessons–I’m thinking simplicity, universal access (everyone has a book at hand, what does your specific target have nearby?), starting with influencers, etc.–but I’d like to hear your thoughts and reactions.  Please comment below.



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