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insight & trends
23 June 2021

from meme culture to meme marketing.

In today's digital age, social media has taken on a new significance with photos, videos and memes being able to connect us all. With marketers catching on to the meme trend, memes have evolved from an online culture to a powerful marketing tool that could predict the future of social media marketing strategies. Let's take a look at the evolution of memes and their impact on marketing today.

What is a meme?
If you’re a person with any form of Internet access, you will have seen more than a couple memes in your lifetime. They’re on your homepage when you open Facebook and in your group chats with your best friends. They’ve taken the Internet by storm and they’re here to stay.

Memes usually consist of a picture which is normally derived from some type of pop culture including viral videos, iconic celebrity moments, tv shows or cartoons. These images are coupled with a caption that references a relatable situation or information related to any political, social or economic news. But their purpose is to entertain, not to inform.

When it comes to memes, there's something for everybody. They're personal while still being universal. They're funny, to the point, and sometimes too honest for one's own liking. But they're an easy way of communicating an idea without having to say anything at all. Which is exactly why Millennials and Gen Z's have deemed it a new form of communication in the online world.

Meme Culture: A New Form of Communication
Meme culture is an evolving culture, led by Millennial and Gen Z Internet users who have evolved the meme from something funny and relatable to a vital component of how we communicate with each other, both online and in the real world.

It has become an integral part of the online world, with meme culture growing into a social phenomenon of 'meme pages' with millions of followers across the world, even serving as a primary or secondary source of income for many people. But how did the meme go from a shareable post to a powerful social media marketing strategy?

Meme Marketing
Today, meme marketing has become one of the most powerful social media marketing strategies. Brands are using humourous images, gifs and videos to engage with their audiences and drive new business to their website. This marketing technique is especially successful across younger audiences who are more likely to share a meme with their friends. But meme marketing has more benefits than that.

Meme marketing is much easier and cheaper than traditional marketing methods. The internet is flooded with free online meme creators that can help you increase your reach and your chances on investment. But more importantly, memes have the chance to go viral, reaching millions all over the world, dramatically increasing your brand exposure and driving huge swarms of traffic to your website.

Great Meme Marketing
Some major brands have seen the opportunity of meme marketing to connect with their younger audiences in a new and more personal way.

In 2018, Netflix's social media marketing strategy to promote the movie Bird Box catapulted Bird Box to the forefront of the pop culture conversation. Instead of promoting the film all over billboards and on TV, Netflix relied solely on social media to drive the promotion, creating a frenzy of shareable Bird Box memes that were on every Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feed across the world. The result? 45 million views in just 7 days.


How they did it: Created and Curated Memes
Netflix used the relaxed nature of meme culture to develop a more conversational relationship with their fans, through organic meme-marketing with numerous social media accounts to lay down opportunities for fans to create new and interesting gifs.

From there, Netflix amplified their audiences’ voices by retweeting fan-made memes and collaborating with famous meme brands and influencers, including expert-meme makers BirdRightsActivist (@ProBirdRights) to gain new audiences.

This approach has been seen across the world, with Gucci turning memes into art in a collaborative meme project that commissioned artists to adapt popular memes to feature Gucci watches in a viral campaign.

From memes in your group chat, to relatable gifs and viral marketing campaigns, memes have become an integral part of our lives, both online and in real life. With memes evolving into art and powerful marketing tools, meme marketing could be the future of social media, at least until the next trend rolls around.
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