Memes: How they form and how to use them

We’ve all been there. Getting trapped in the explore page of Instagram or the continuous scroll through Facebook, moving past hundreds of photos and videos. We often see some of the same posts but with different captions each time. Most of these are memes — humorous images, videos, pieces of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Memes invade our news feeds and timelines and sometimes cause us to let out a small audible laugh, prompting us to hit the share button to show it to our friends. But have you ever stopped and wondered where memes come from?


The origin of the meme.

While many memes are shared across Facebook and Instagram, they may not have originated from either site. Most internet memes originate from YouTube, 4chan (an imageboard website), Tumblr, and Reddit, and are subsequently shared across other social media sites, evolving through the sharing process.

Memes have a clear, distinct message that is often relatable to the audience. In order for them to be classified as a meme, they must be able to change and evolve with the sharing process, yet maintain elements of the original message. Memes must also go viral. Virality is key because without becoming widely popular, the message of the meme will be insignificant.


Let’s take a look at how this works.

Remember the Selfie Kid from the 2018 Super Bowl Halftime Show?


(Image Source: Know Your Meme)

While 103.4 million Americans watched Justin Timberlake rock the stage back in February, Ryan McKenna seemingly looked disinterested as the famous singer passed by him in the stands. Many viewers took notice, but one snapped a photo of his television screen and posted it to Twitter. The photo went viral across Twitter and Facebook, and as it gained traction, sharers added their own twist to the photo.

(Image Source: Know Your Meme)

(Image Source: Know Your Meme)

(Image Source: Know Your Meme)

As you can see, each post had its own variation or edit, while maintaining elements of the original post. The hashtag #selfiekid gained thousands of tweets in a matter of hours, making McKenna go viral.


Using memes in social media marketing.

Memes are entertaining, engaging, and provide a perfect opportunity for marketers to show their personalities through their social media channels. Meme-related content is also perfect to use if you are targeting an audience of Millennials or Generation Z, those who have helped define what memes look like today.

When using memes, engage with your audience. Be funny and use hashtags. This is how your content will spread to a wider audience.

Memes are fun, but can become overwhelming, so use them intermittently. If you feel that your audience may not understand or appreciate a meme, don’t use it. You don’t want to force content on someone if they ultimately won’t enjoy it.

Most importantly, have fun with using memes on social media. They provide a lighthearted, humorous way for you to engage with your followers and give you the opportunity to show some personality as well.


(Image Source: Twitter)

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