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hat’s in a meme? Since the start of the Internet, memes have been an important part of online culture. From specific image and video content to abstract forms of communication and unconventional word choice, memes are a constantly evolving part of digital media that permeate every aspect of being online. 


But what are memes? What do they actually mean? What do they do? 


For marketers and brands, memes can be an excellent way to communicate with a larger audience, when done correctly. However, in order to reach those communities and creators, it’s important to understand the history of memes, the evolution of culture, and the growth of memes into marketing. 


Let’s start at the beginning–


WHAT ARE MEMES?


In their most complex form, memes are a form of Internet culture that communicate a sentiment or emotion using images, catch phrases, dances, videos and more. In their simplest form, memes are pieces of content that make you feel a certain type of way. 


Although the concept of a meme has existed long before the word “meme” itself, they are an area of culture that is evolving due to constant growth of communication between communities. A meme can be a static image with a specific inherent connotation, such as the “rage face” or “scumbag Steve” icons. It can also be a short-form video like the infamous Rick Roll, or a short action like the Harlem Shake or planking. 


Memes are universal forms of communication that have constantly changing forms, usages and interpretations, making them valuable for connecting with larger audiences around the world. 


Just as historians can mark significant events at certain points in time, you can trace the history of memes by their most important events. Memes have a direct correlation to the growth of the Internet. Since the beginning, memes existed in their simplest form to accommodate for the new ventures of the web. As the Internet developed more features, usages and increased accessibility, memes continued to adapt in similar ways with different communities. As the Internet gets more diverse with more varieties of websites, niches and content, memes are becoming increasingly targeted towards specific communities. This is the result of a growing web of language and understandings unique to individualized communities.

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This is not a new notion–it is very common for communities to establish their own forms of communication. However, memes are a digital language that has evolved thanks to the creation and spread of the Internet. While specific elements of certain cultures are unique to their specific areas, the Internet has created a more universal and accessible route for people to communicate with each other, resulting in a digital diaspora of culture and content–through memes. 


In a way, memes are just a digital language that evolves the same way that our languages do: at the hands of our communities they serve.


WHY ARE MEMES IMPORTANT? 


Because memes are language, it is important to understand where they come from and how they work in order to directly relate to specific audiences around the world. For users, understanding a meme can help communicate with a digital audience. 


Memes find unique communities that share the same sense of humor, a similar understanding of the world and a common interest for content. This results in niche pages made for only posting meme content. These niche pages can be focused around books, movies, television shows, astrology, trucks and much more. If there are groups of people interested in something, there is probably a meme publisher for it. 

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While many aspects of the human experience are universal, people have different experiences within their own lifetimes. Memes are a way to share those differences, and to celebrate the universal similarities.


WHY ARE MEMES IMPORTANT FOR BRANDS?


Memes can have the same effect for marketers and brands. Memes can communicate products and services to new demographics, areas and niches of interest. In turn, using memes can provide more brand awareness, name recognition and opportunities for connecting with target audiences. 


Memes offer a way to relate to changing generations, and can provide brands with insight into the consumer patterns of younger demographics. Meme content can also give insights into the types of content that people are most drawn to. 

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For brands doing competitor research or research on the behavior patterns in certain demographics, memes can offer an intimate look to the types of content, types of brands, and types of communication that are trending in their target circles. Memes offer an unfiltered view of the users’ opinions which can garner some invaluable insights. 


For example, if a brand’s target audience are people that like cartoons, observing what types of memes appear in cartoon-centric communities can give insight into how those users are consuming content, and the types of cartoons that are popular in that niche. 


In short, memes can create exposure–and when done correctly, memes can also create long-term relationships between users, brands and marketers.


WHAT IS MEME MARKETING? 


Simply put, meme marketing is how brands and marketers can study the current trend patterns of audience demographics, and how they can connect with different, more niche audiences around the world. As mentioned earlier, memes have a huge impact on the way people consume content and communicate with one another. For marketers, memes are a way to integrate into those targeted communities in an authentic way–by speaking their language. 

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Although meme marketing is a relatively new form of digital marketing, it adapts to the way that people are currently using the Internet–resulting in a fresh take on more typical marketing strategies. Authenticity is an important factor in communicating with younger generations, and meme marketing is a way to seamlessly integrate into those audiences. 

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That being said, meme marketing takes research and understanding in order to be done correctly. Because authenticity is so important for connecting with your audience, it is also important to know the community that you are trying to reach and how they communicate. If your brand creates a meme targeted for a niche they have never explored, the meme won’t connect with the audience–because your brand didn’t understand the way that community was communicating. 


The importance of language is key: just as marketing initiatives change depending on the audience you’re talking to, memes should change depending on the niche community you’re trying to target. 


Overall, meme marketing is a new form of digital and influencer marketing that is changing the way consumers get exposed to and derive affinity for brands. As new communities continue to evolve online, the way that marketers and brands communicate with those audiences must also evolve. Memes are no different. 


Digital culture moves fast, and memes are a great indicator of where your community is at in the process. 


For more information on meme marketing and how brands can connect with their digital audiences, check out MemeMarketing’s Resources Page.


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