We are the social media generation. From this generation comes billion dollar start-ups, innovative inventions and outstanding tech ideas. This generation has also discovered another great online communication tool: memes.

For those who are not adept with Internet talk, what are memes?

What are memes?

goat-556375_640Meme (pronounced /ˈmm/ meem) refers to a visual in the form of image, video and text which is spread throughout the Internet. These images are often altered in creative and humorous ways. Memes came from the Greek word ‘mimeme’ which meant imitated thing. It was first defined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins and is used to explain how cultural information spreads.

Christopher Poole, 4chan’s founder, is credited for most of the memes we see today. The meme phenomenon became famous in 2001. Now, it is being used across all social platforms to communicate and express ideas. A meme can be a fun addition to conversations.

Types of Memes

Memes come in different forms. They include the following:

#1 Photos

These memes don’t have words but are used to show responses within forums, online communities and on social media. Here’s an example below:

140702062928-Overly Attached Girlfriend

This meme is called “overly attached girlfriend” and is used to describe clingy girlfriend tendencies. It is usually accompanied by text. This image is from a webcam photo of a girl who uploaded a video in response to Justin Bieber’s song “Boyfriend”. Her text on the post was clingy and stalker like, but was mostly for humour. The meme spread after it made its way onto reddit.

Now this girl uses her Internet fame to raise funds and help charities.

#2 Rage comics

Rage comics are like ordinary comics with four cells or more. The only difference is, they feature rage faces. They’re rather crudely created in MS paint. They are most often used by people online to post responses and to accompany text and convey an opinion. Famous rage comic characters include the memes forever alone, derp, troll face and derpette.

Check out some of the most well-known rage comic characters.

And here’s a rage comic for you:

RageComicsImage Credit: Eclipse Magazine

#3 GIFs

Gifs are a lossless file format that are usually an animated image. Gifs as memes are funny or sarcastic. Here’s an example:

#4 Commercials

Funny commercials often come into public scrutiny and what better way to make fun of them than with memes? Here’s an example of a meme from a commercial:


#5 Videos

Videos are slowly becoming the most popular medium for communication. Hindered in the past by constraints of file size, the whole world is slowly realising that videos may communicate faster compared to photos and words. So began the rise of memes in video format. The example below is the very first viral meme video of a dancing baby that spread through inboxes all over the world (no Facebook or Twitter back then).

#6 Image macros

This probably is the most popular medium of memes today. These appear everywhere and are a source of amusement to everybody on the Internet.

Check out these epic examples below:

mckayla-notimpressedImage Credit: Taringa

boromir-memeImage Credit: Sussle

BM

Image Credit: Reddit

Viral Memes

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Memes can go viral in just minutes. Several studies have been conducted to understand this phenomenon. How does a simple square image with a few words reach the whole word and create so many laughs?

#1 Mass appeal

A viral meme is one that has the capacity to appeal to a large group of people. Mass viewers who will be able to relate to the meme will recognise the humour and share it with their friends.

#2 Humour

Humour is one of the main factors that will determine if a meme goes viral or not. Comedy helps to get a message or point across to the audience. The funnier the meme, the more it will be shared.

#3 Sharing

The platforms a meme is shared on determine if that meme will go viral. The first step is to make sure the meme will be seen by many. The best avenue for sharing is usually social media and websites like reddit and 9gag which have large user communities.

#4 Currency

A meme is more likely to go viral if it touches on a current trend or issue. In this way, memes are used as communication tools, helping people express their opinions about social issues through the use of light-hearted media.

Memes and Marketing

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Due to their popularity, memes now are being used to help in product and service advertising. Leveraging on memes has already been tested, but it often requires proper timing and appropriate choice of media.

For marketers, memes can provide the following benefits:

  • Easy to create
  • Your business stays relevant on social media
  • Boosts employee morale
  • Increases reach and engagement

Memes are also fast becoming popular outside of the Internet. Take for example outdoor advertising like billboards on the side of highways. Memes used here are relatable and guaranteed to have more of an effect on Internet savvy viewers than some traditional advertising methods. Other marketing strategies have even made use of memes in television advertisements.

For a guide on using memes as marketing tools, check out the SEOmoz article, How to Use Memes to Build EASY Backlinks & Traffic. One smart tip for marketers is to use reddit. Go to reddit to search for trending memes, put your own personal twist on them and publish on your social media accounts.

Famous Memes

What are the top trending memes on the Internet today? Let’s introduce you to them.

Doge

Original_Doge_memeImage Credit: Wikipedia

The doge meme represents funny internal monologue with brightly coloured text and features the famous doge himself!

Unflattering Beyoncé

0b8Image Credit: knowyourmeme

Beyoncé requested this unflattering photo be removed from the Internet, however, the Internet had other ideas. The images from her concert became exploitable photos which Photoshop enthusiasts set about to modify in a variety of ways (Beyoncé the body builder, Hulk Beyoncé, Wrestler Beyoncé). Sorry, Queen B.

Sharknado

sharknado-memesImage Credit: weknowmemes

The Sharknado meme is based on the movie of the same title. Sharknado memes are popping up all over the Internet again since the release of the sequel, Sharknado 2.

Derp

Meme-derp

Image Credit: wikia

Derp is an expression or meme used to signify stupidity or ignorance and was first seen in the movie BASEketball from the creators of South Park. The usual derp image includes a person or a sketch with eyes pointed to each side.

Alex from Target

tumblr_nefzqx9Aed1tux9sgo1_500Image Credit: tumblr

Alex from target became a viral meme last year when somebody shopping at Target snapped a photo of a handsome cashier and tweeted it. Although no one really knew Alex, the meme labelled him as an attractive, great worker who is eager to help customers.

“None of my business”

kermit

Image Credit: quotes-kid

This meme depicts Kermit the Frog saying something sarcastic, poking at various faux pas and behaviours and ending with “but that’s none of my business”.

Minor Mistake Marvin

4duli8xImage Credit: livememe

This meme features a boy who stares blankly off-camera while the background shows a burned ramen container inside a microwave. This meme is most often used to present everyday regrettable mistakes in a humorous light.

Awkward Seal

2d6Image Credit: wired

The awkward seal meme shows a seal with wide eyed expression, interpreted to be awkward. The meme is used to express events that are uncomfortable and socially awkward.

Handsome Mugshot Guy

tumblr_ngssgzTAVr1qj4315o1_500Image Credit: gurl

There are actually two handsome mugshot guys now; Jeremy Meeks and Sean Kory. Kory actually landed a modelling contract as a result of his meme fame, although he is still in jail… This meme became popular as people were surprised the photo of Kory was a mugshot rather than a modelling shot.

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Memes seem to define the Internet generation. Memes represent the power of viral content, information sharing, the ability people have to express themselves online and how this unites billions all over the world.

About Author

Roelen researches, creates, tailors content for outreach and content promotion campaigns as well as social presence management. She likes poetry, blues, The Walking Dead and crime books.