It’s time to start investing in some dank memes.
For those who don’t know, memes are those dumb images/gifs, often with accompanied text, that still somehow make us laugh. The memes that I will be talking about emerge on the internet and are spread virally throughout social media. Examples can include Doge and Harambe the Gorilla. While memes have always been about lighthearted fun, some subculture on the internet take their memes very seriously.
(This right here is a meme. Just look how cute she is! Yes, Doge is female. Now you know.)
Occupying its own little secluded niche on the internet is a webpage called /r/memeeconomy. It’s a subreddit on the popular internet discussion Reddit and unlike other subreddits on the platform, redditors on /r/memeeconomy are not simply discussing the newest trends for their casual hobbies. Oh no, it’s much more serious. At /r/memeeconomy, users discuss the value of internet memes, investing their time and energy into memes in hopes of reaping huge returns in the form of Reddit “karma”, Facebook “likes”, or whatever internet upvote currency of your choice. They even have their own stock exchange called the NASDANQ. Cries of “BUY BUY BUY” and “SELL SELL SELL” can be heard throughout the trading floor.
To be clear, no actually money is on the line when people invest in the meme economy. The meme economy started out as nothing more than a satirical concept in which memes are discussed with financial jargon to poke fun at both memes and the financial services industry. Despite this, many redditors have taken this concept very far, treating memes as if they are real financial securities to be traded. They gather on the forum to speculate on the future of memes.
(They are not talking about BTC… they are talking about a meme)
Even though it’s a joke, there are comparisons to be made between internet memes and stocks on the stock market. The value of a meme (its comedic value and its relevancy on social media) is constantly changing. It can be bullish if the meme is funny and novel (or “dank” to use the proper terminology), but it can also be bearish if the meme is stale, overused, or has simply oversaturated the internet (or “normified” to use the proper terminology). Memes can also have corrections in value in the same way that stocks do. When a corporation or a famous person uses a meme, the value of a meme would drop precipitously since meme traders would fear that the meme would soon become over posted around the internet and become stale. Current events in the real world also have a huge impact on the value of memes. Because of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Olympics related memes have been highly valued for the past two weeks but investors must be careful with these memes because they will become next to worthless after the Olympics have pasted. In another example, 2016 was turbulent year in the meme economy due to the unexpected heatedness and outcome of the most recent election. Many netizens made lots of karma during that year investing in Trump memes. The adage of buying low and selling high still applies to the meme economy; make memes while they are still funny and dump them after they have run their course.
P = K -T
P = Profit
K = amount of karmas or likes generated
T = time in MS Paint creating meme
Unlike stocks, memes tend to have very short lifecycles. Even the most successful memes tend to follow the same lifetime pattern. Even Harambe, the most successful meme of 2016, has mostly faded away into irrelevance. After its “IPO” on some corner of the internet, a meme will go through its viral stage in which the value skyrockets into a bubble. Then the bubble will burst after everyone becomes tired of the meme.
(The popular “hard to swallow pills” meme is on the rise, but its humor won’t last long)
Despite the ephemeral nature of meme humor, I argue that marketers should invest in memes to promote their brands. Akin to the redditors, professional marketers should also participate in the hilarity of the meme economy and use valuable memes for their marketing efforts, except using click through rate in place of karma as a performance metric. Humor in marketing has been done since forever ago but now its time to start using humor in different ways. Yes, marketing professionals should start making some OC memes to spread their messages. The practice is already known in marketing and it’s called “memejacking.”
With a few caveats to keep in mind, I believe that memes have some advantages over traditional media promotion.
- Marketers need to be fast and agile when memejacking – As we have established before. Memes are ephemeral. Typically, a meme is only funny when it is still somewhat fresh. Take advantage of memes when they are rising or at the peak of their virality. It’s not good to use stale or old memes because they are often unfunny or worse, annoying. Timing is key.
- It’s not worth offending people in hopes of going viral – Marketers need to be careful which memes to memejack. The internet can be a dark and often toxic place. Many of the memes may only be funny to select niches and even offensive to others. It may be best to be conservative when judging how memes will be received by the target audience. Marketers need to carefully monitor reactions and make adjustments when necessary.
With that out of the way, here’s a list of reasons why marketers need to start memejacking
- Very cheap and easy to make – To make an OC meme, just hope onto Adobe Illustrator and modify exiting meme formats for the target audience. Memes don’t have to look good, looking bad is part of the charm. Even lowly MS Paint can suffice in successful memejacking.
- Leverage virality – Marketers always hope their ads can become viral, but achieving something like what AB InBev had with “Dilly dilly” is rare. It’s easier to use existing virality than make virality from scratch. Using a hot meme is an efficient way to get a message passed around.
- A great way to reach out to younger generations – Memes are beloved by teens and younger generation. Memejacking may be a good way to target them but it may also alienate other demographics.
And on that note, I will leave you with some more examples. Happy meme-ing!
#TFWGucci Social networks are our everyday vernacular, creating endless archives of images that are entertaining, disturbing, or titillating. @meatwreck, a collaboration between artists Mitra Saboury and Derek Paul Boyle, enlivens the digital stream with their own blend of organic and surreal imagery. A foot sprouts plants, a piece of meat is framed, or a woman sleeps between mattresses instead of on top. Inspired by @beigecardigan, the duo pictures a #LeMarchédesMerveilles timepiece for #TFWGucci bursting out of the wearer’s suit. ‑ Text by @kchayka. Discover more through link in bio.
(Gucci has a little army of original meme makers for their social media marketing efforts.)
(Sometimes is good to just memejack.)