The popular news aggregate site and so-called “front page of the internet” reddit.com allows any user to create their own subreddit. Due to this freedom and the eccentric nature of many internet savvy individuals, some peculiar subreddits have come into existence. One such subreddit that I have recently discovered is called “Meme Economy,” located at reddit.com/r/memeeconomy.
Memes are an important cultural phenomenon and this subreddit aims to make light of the rising and falling popularity of certain memes by parading them around in a fictional stock market known as “NASDANQ”. The self-described aim of the subreddit is:
“a place where individuals can buy, sell, share, make, and invest in memes freely. You’ll also get updates on the market and be able to collaborate with other fellow dank meme traders.”
The subreddit is relatively new, with a following of 58,000 users. In the following steps I will outline a plan for recruiting, socializing, and retaining newcomers to this up-and-coming subreddit.
The first step to ensuring that this community continues to grow is to recruit new members. Kraut’s design claim one draws a comparison to laissez-faire recruitment approaches and active recruiting. The authors state that the laissez faire type allows individuals to “stumble upon a community” while the active recruiting type involves action on the part of individuals within the group. These actions can include formal or informal recruiting messages that influence a user to join the community. The way that I found the community could be described as laissez faire. I happened to find the subreddit because it popped up on reddit’s r/all page, which is the page that shows subreddits that are popular for that day. A more targeted recruitment approach would allow the community to grow at a faster rate.
My plan for recruiting new members to this subreddit involves instituting a culture of shameless self promotion within r/memeeconomy. This will consist of active recruitment tactics on the part of the moderators and community members. The plan is for these members to post the link to r/memeeconomy on other meme-based subreddits. For example, in the comments sections of the meme-based subreddits r/adviceanimals or r/bidenbro, a user could find an appropriate place to essentially “plug” the r/memeeconomy subreddit. Advertising a new subreddit in this manner is not against the reddit site rules and is fairly common and tolerated very well by the community. Many users seem to enjoy the random plugs because it allows them to discover subreddits that they may never have found otherwise. I think that this shameless self-promotion tactic alone will have a significant impact on the userbase of r/memeeconomy.
The next step in my plan involves socializing the new members who have recently been recruited to r/memeeconomy. This is a key step because maintaining subreddit culture is very important to ensuring that the community maintains its original goal. Kraut’s design claim 23 states that “when old timers provide newcomers formal mentorship, the newcomers become more committed to the community, learn how to behave in it, and contribute more” (p. 217). This step will involve moderators, who are considered to be the oldest of members in any given subreddit, sending an automated private message to the newcomers. This message will provide a basic welcoming into the community, a few brief rules that are similar to the rules outlined in the sidebar, and an open invitation to message them back if they have any questions. In addition, this message will include a note that the newcomers must lurk for 48 hours before posting. This will be discussed later with relevance to the ‘retention’ aspect of this plan. I think that this will be a particularly effective strategy because getting a private message for joining a subreddit is a very unusual thing on reddit. Users will likely feel a close connection to the community after being reached out to by the moderators. Most importantly however, the quality of the posts will increase since users will be able to contact the moderators for formal mentorship before posting any content they are unsure about.
Another strategy to socialize members of this subreddit is to make them feel like they belong there. It is logical to assume that if someone feels like they have a connection to a community, they are more likely to socialize with other members of that community. Kraut’s design claim 4 states that “providing a collection of individuals with a name or other indicator that they are members of a common group increases their identity based commitment to the community” (p. 82). I think that a good way to achieve this would be to make use of reddit’s “tag” feature. Reddit allows tags to be placed next to people’s usernames. By having a tag such as “Meme Trader” next to all users who join the r/memeeconomy subreddit, users will likely increase their identity-based committment to the site and strive to connect with others more often.
The last part of my plan involves the retention of individuals within the subreddit. Kraut’s design claim 18 states that “when newcomers have friendly interactions with existing community members soon after joining a community, they are more likely to stay longer and contribute more” (p. 208). The previously discussed plan for installing a welcoming message will have a positive effect on retaining newcomers according to this design claim.
Keeping newcomers around is a big problem in online communities. According to Kraut, “60% of registered editors on Wikipedia never make another edit after their first twenty-four hours participating” (p. 205). Therefore, a key step in retaining members to this subreddit draws from the “newcomers must lurk for 48 hours” rule that is messaged to newcomers in the welcoming PM. The point of this rule is for newcomers to learn the ropes before posting. This rule draws from Kraut’s claim that entry barriers and initiation rituals that “cause newcomers to suffer a little” will eventually increase their commitment to that group. By having the newcomers banned from posting for two days, they will be forced to “suffer” while they lurk and observe how others are posting content and commenting. Once the two days are up, they should have a better understanding of what counts as ‘“good” content and what content is frowned upon. With this knowledge in mind, they will likely feel more committed to the group and plan to stay longer.
Overall, this business plan to increase the size of the community, socialize members, and retain them puts a significant amount of focus on the themes of shameless self-promotion, group identity, group welcoming, and barriers to entry. Combined, these tactics will hopefully grow the user base of r/memeeconomy while maintaining its original culture and humor style. One potentially bad tactic in the quest for more followers is the recruitment of followers outside of the site. The humor only seems to do well within reddit, and so reaching out to users on twitter and Facebook seems fruitless. A twitter page created for the subreddit called ‘NASDANQ’ claims a mere 238 followers. I would suggest that the moderators stick to the business plan outlined above for the most effective recruitment of individuals to the r/memeeconomy subreddit.