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Occupy Wall Street: The 99 Percenters Crush the 53 Percenters

In case you're keeping score, Occupy Wall Street is winning the meme war: The "We Are the 99 Percent" Tumblr meme has about 10 times as many participants as the "We Are the 53 Percent" counter-protesters do:
  • In October, 1,423 people made handwritten descriptions of their bleak economic circumstances, signed them "We Are the 99 Percent," and uploaded images to Tumblr, as of the time of writing.
  • "We Are the 53 Percent" has failed to gain the same traction since it began on Oct 5: Only 150 people have done the same thing -- but with the opposite notion that there are jobs for those that want them. And some of those posts are cartoons drawn by the same person, Caitlin Irene Woods who goes by the name Akilika on Tumblr.
It's an interesting experiment in what works and what doesn't in social media. Sure, the 53 Percent blog hasn't been on air as long as the 99 Percent one, but there is no reason for the 53 Percenters to fail -- they have the wind of the Tea Party at their backs, a movement that is feverishly active online. The 99 Percenters, of course, have the ongoing publicity of the OWS demonstrations, which have metastasized to other cities around the globe.

There's also the "authenticity" problem. Despite the shallow nature of the web, people still gravitate to what feels real and genuine. (That's why amateur and homemade videos on YouTube are more popular than commercials.) The 99 Percent idea was new and genuine, but the 53 Percent idea was simply jumping on the bandwagon.

This problem comes up a lot in the world of marketing. When one brand starts a successful campaign, other companies become tempted to borrow from it in hopes of skimming off some of its aura. The second entrants are rarely as successful as the first. (Think about Procter & Gamble's Old Spice Guy vs. the Edge Shave Gel Guy vs. the Dairy Queen Guy.)

In new product marketing, much is made of "first-mover advantage" (and whether it really is an advantage or a liability). In the world of memes, being first may count for more.