The Psychology Of Memes And Its Use In Marketing

Everyone likes a spicy meme. Those bite-size jokes are a dopamine rush for the brain. But what is a meme, really? The word ‘MEME’ was coined in the year 1978 by the British Evolutionary Biologist, Sir Richard Dawkins. Mind you, even before the age of the internet. According to Dawkins, memes are cultural vehicles of ideas that share a lot in common with DNA and genes. But how come?

While genes carry biological information, memes are embedded with cultural and ideological information. The word meme comes from the Greek word ‘Mimema’ which means ‘Imitated’. 

So what is a meme? What are the marketing implications of memes?  We will take a serious look at why memeing is an innate human behavior. We will show you de wey in this article. 

In this article, we’re throwing a spotlight on memes. What are they, why can’t we live without them, and how they’ve always been around, even before the internet. 

Spilling the tea on memes; What is a meme?

Merriam Webster Dictionary describes a meme as an “amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or a genre of items that is spread widely online, especially through social media.” But we will dig a little deeper.

When you scratch the surface of the web, you reach the furry underbelly of social media – the meme. There’s no way to escape memes because they spread faster than unsavory tweets.

Urban Dictionary – a dictionary for students and degenerates, describes memes as “A lifestyle and art used by teens and adults who are willing to actually live a life that includes moments of joy & wonder”.

Other definitions (sic) include – “Memes are a way of life for anyone who owns the  technology. It gives laughter and joy to the viewers. They expire after 2 days.” and “Memes are a cure for depression and a cause for it” 

Now that you have a rudimentary idea of what it is, let’s look into the matter of “what are their characteristics?” 

Adding memes to your social media marketing mix

Fun as they are, the truth about memes is that they are engaging. We’ve found that they can be very effective when creating content for social media posts.

We’ve used them for posts for a smorgasbord of brands. This includes brands like NGOs, real estate, F&B, and even serious domains like banking and finance. 

Here are a few reasons why you really should consider adding a sprinkle of memes to your content creation. 

Meme are engaging

By the time you add a famous meme for your content, it already has a lot of goodwill on the internet. By piggybacking off a great meme, you get to portray your brand as fresh and trendy, while not having to worry too much about finding the design. 

It’s ready to use and free content 

Memes can be intelligent and interesting content that is served to you on a silver platter if you know how to spot a diamond in the rough. All you have to do when incorporating memes into your content is to find one that resonates with your brand and then add your own twist through copy. Also, the meme community is not picky when it comes to design. So you don’t have to spend hours perfecting the design like you would for another post. 

It’s already a part of the community you’re targeting

Let’s face it, making an impression in any online community for the first time is hard work. It’s easier to break the ice though, when you use memes. Especially when dealing with a younger audience.

Memes of a distinct variety strongly appeal to a certain type of target audience. If you can successfully meme your way into their social media feed, there is a higher chance that they will accept you as a brand that resonates with their values. 

It’s inspirational stuff for your creative team 

Creating a successful piece of meme content isn’t easy – we’ll be frank. But most of the work is already cut out for you. The next time you’re looking for a meme to spice up your content, just go through the 1000s of meme templates that already exist. You never know, it might inspire you to fit your brand into the content and surf the wave of popularity that the meme is already a part of. 

When creating content using memes – it’s important that you use the force. Take a calculated chance and trust your sense of humor. It might give you that viral response you want from your marketing. 

How do memes influence society? 

Memes, more often than not, are embedded with a cultural, social, or political expression. It is a major influencer of the zeitgeist and is able to stay in line with the evolution of social thoughts and consciousness. 

Political significance

In countries that practice censorship, memes have been proven to be very effective in spreading messages of mobilization, resistance, and opposition.

Political spectaculars coined the word ‘fast-food media’ to describe politically and socially motivated memes. Memes are similar to fast food, in the way that they are difficult to resist, quick, and indulgent, however, they do not fill you up.

Someone who sees a political meme develops an initial interest in a topic and then turns to mainstream media to get a full understanding of an agenda. 

Cultural Mindbombing according to Social activists

The term cultural mind bombing was coined by the founder of Greenpeace during the heights of the anti-whaling campaigns that were being spread by the organization. According to his views, strong images are once seen could not be unseen. Which formed the basis of his theory. 

Greenpeace would send out photographers on ships to follow whalers in the South China Sea. Their mission was not to stop the whaling but to capture graphic images of the hunt. 

These images were then spread extensively on Social Media, gathering a lot of public support due to the moral disruption they caused. 

Memes as a coping tool

When corona was at the height of its disruptive trajectory, people took to the internet to vent their frustration, band together, and offer support.

Memes played a large part in keeping the spirit of humanity alive during this time and unifying people against an unseen enemy. 

This was possible in two ways: 

  1. They were used for sharing difficult thoughts. These thoughts would otherwise be pent up, and repressed and thus cause harm to society. Memes had a huge role to play as a global coping tool. 
  2. Sharing and reacting to memes gives people a feeling they are not alone. It created a sense of connection in society during a time when quarantines and lockdowns were the norm. 

Whether you take the above tips seriously or not – we just want you to know – keep scrolling and always meme responsibly folks! 

1 Comment
  1. nice post.

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