The Meme-ification of Instagram
What lies at the heart of us isn’t “the fire of passion” or a “spark of life” anymore. It’s information. And in our (online) world, this information and ideas behave like human genes: they replicate, evolve, and mutate.
Our comparison of information to genes isn’t coincidental, but actually proposed by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (1976), the creator of the word “meme” (which rhymes with dream) in The Selfish Gene. Meme was used to describe a trend that replicates itself over the Internet and grows in popularity, pretty similar to a successful genetic trait.
In this post, we highlight the meteoric rise of memes on a platform like Instagram, and how you can use it to your brand’s advantage.
Believe it or not, memes have been around longer than the Internet itself, but memes as we know them started coming out much later, in the mid-1990s. The word now means an image, video or piece of text – often for humorous or for political purposes – that spreads rapidly through Internet users and often caters to a specific audience. This “audience” (or your target demographic) tends to have self-referential language, with an in-group that can decipher the meme and get the “in joke”, while those who aren’t in the group can’t. For example:
The history lesson is great. But why should your brand adapt to add memes to its social media marketing campaign?
Because our (and your clients’) world is mostly informed by commentaries, references, and jokes, made by friends and influencers. Digital marketers have to adapt and get smarter with their content if they want their followers to have a more customized experience, specially designed to induce a positive reaction. This means less promotion, and more joining humorous online conversations out there.
This “memetic marketing” should be:
1. Relatable to your target audience and followers, such as this one meme template below that appeals to Millenials.
2. Witty: Besides relating to your audience, noteworthy memes are not only educational/informational, have a way of putting obvious things subtly, to help you leave a lasting impact on your audience.
3. Cost-effective: If you don’t want to spend a lot of time or finances on taking the photos and coming up with witty one-liners for your memes, you can always use existing meme templates.
If you’re creating a meme, two questions you should ask are:
- Do they resonate with my target demographic?
- Are memes, in general, a fit with my brand’s essence and tone?
Here are some ideas on how you can create memes that your demographic can relate to:
- Graphics related to occupations.
- Source memes from Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, 4Chan, Meme Generator, or Know Your Meme.
- Take a look at what top meme accounts are sharing in order to understand what’s trending and what your followers want to see.
- And remember, always tie the meme back to your brand’s product/service.
Now, you’ve finally got some memes under your radar and know what you want to do with them. But don’t forget to check if they’re eligible for copyright protection. This depends on the copyright law of the country in which protection is sought. Usually, photos of people and animals (especially stock photos) can be turned into memes by superimposing text on them, such as the famous “Distracted Boyfriend” meme:
When used appropriately, memes can be a fantastic tool in any digital marketer’s inventory, and give your brand the ability to reach thousands of people, while helping them be a part of the social conversation. The Digital Odyssey team can help you stay on top of trends to effectively navigate the complex waters of the internet. Our marketing agency can help you with further ideas of how to design world-class websites, seamless user journeys and digital marketing campaigns.
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