“#Winning” With Memes

What do Charlie Sheen, that Kony 2012 video, and a double rainbow all have in common? At a first glance – not a thing. One celebrity’s harebrained hashtags, a truly awe inspiring video, and a meteorological phenomenon (x2!!) draw few obvious parallels. Well, except for the fact that they are all examples of Internet memes.

Memes (rhymes with “dreams”) are not a new thing at all. In fact, they’ve been around for a long time. Only, now, we have a name for them.

Richard Dawkins coined the term in his book The Selfish Gene. Memes come in many forms including: tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothing trends, photos on the net and viral videos. These “ideas” jump from brain to brain in a process that is otherwise known as imitation – or a trend.

Think of things that are trending on Twitter – such as Angry Birds Space, after the launch of the new app earlier today – or a viral (and lasting) video like the youtube.com hit Charlie Bit My Finger that has been remixed, re-enacted and auto-tuned by fans. Both of these are other examples of memes. And don’t even get me started on LOLcats

But do memes have a place in the advertising world? Advertising is all about spreading ideas and getting the word out. Because of this, the answer to this question leads industry professionals into a grey area.

Predicting whether or not something will go viral is a difficult task. You can produce a video, for example, with the intention of having it go viral, and then watch it flop. It’s hard to determine what makes something “trend” while other things never make a mark on our cultural circuit whatsoever.

For many companies, having a buzz around their service or product is a fantastic thing. Plus, the “word-of-mouth” method is extremely cost effective. Making a direct and memorable connection with their audience can lead to beneficial outcomes for the company, such as the re-Tweeting of a post or the sharing of an email.

What do you think? Are there ways to effectively use memes in the marketing and advertising community? Let us know in the comment section below!

  • Billy

    LOLcats suck. It’s all about LOLdogs. 

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