Memes have evolved a long way since Richard Dawkins coined the term in 1976. Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, originally defined the noun as a unit of cultural transmission or a unit of imitation.
Over the last decade, the Internet has taken Dawkins’ idea and transformed it into a social media phenomenon. Originally used for a quick laugh among Twitter users, brands have adopted the concept and developed it into an effective marketing strategy. Numerous businesses utilize the approach to drive consumer traffic to their website. Memes are customized to communicate specific messages about a brand and to make content more engaging on social media, blogs, and billboards. This viral marketing tactic has made certain characters internet icons.
Meme ideas are established during widely-known pop culture happenings, whether they be tragic, like Harambe, or comedic, like Chuck Norris. Though at times it is difficult to correctly assess what will become viral and what will not, success stories have a few consistencies.
Much like viruses, memes spread at a rapid rate. Unlike viruses, ideas are spread instead of symptoms. Suddenly we’re able to culturally connect and break communication barriers set in place by language and diverse societies. This constructs the imitation and cultural transmission Dawkins intended for.
The word meme is well-known among generations, but it has also become an umbrella term. Memetics refers to the sociological side of the term that Dawkins focused on. A meme complex is the combination of elements that form an entirely new creation. A memotype is informational text. A meme is not just a funny image. The witty text is a major aspect of what makes the funny images so successful. Most remarkable is memetic marketing, which is the use of memes to publicize a brand or product through viral content on social media.
Memes are clever and easy to understand, which attracts social media users. Consumers are drawn to content that is simple and relevant to their lives. As the technological revolution continues to advance, our attention spans shrink, having just fallen below eight seconds. Consequently, consumers prefer content that only takes them milliseconds to process and attach meaning to. It takes double the amount of time for the human brain to process regular text as opposed to images.
When a person views an image, the retention rate for the information associated with that image increases. The information remains in the memory of the viewer for days afterward. Marketers attempt to use this to their advantage. When a new brand or product is introduced, memes are helpful because they positively influence:
post hits by 1.5 million each day
post views by 94 percent
post shares by 40 percent
post engagement by 2.3 percent
retweets by 150 percent
The use of memes, while valuable, has the potential to become overused. Every meme has a lifespan. By overdoing it, the memes die that much quicker, and new memes take its place. This causes your audience to lose interest in the information you have to share.
Using pre-generated memes are all well-and-good, but creating your own will increase your brand identity among social media users. Websites such as Meme Generator and Make a Meme allow you to create your own meme simply.
If you are seeking help generating viral content, we’d love to speak with you.