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The Power of Memes in Social Media Communication


The modern meme is defined as a humorous image that is copied, with slight variations, and quickly shared across the internet. Funny pictures and jokes are enjoyed by all, but are they actually important in social media communication?

Social media users love visual content. The algorithms of many social sites prioritize visual content over text-based content. Viewers are six times as likely to remember a message if it is paired with a relevant visual than the text alone.

Memes can provide a unique snapshot into the cultural events of a moment in time. Some memes rotate for years, while others live a short, but often explosive life. Memes offer users and companies the opportunity to make a reference to an established inside joke that the entire internet is a part of. Memes carry more power than meets the eye. As communicators, how do we create a winning meme? How do we track it?

#1 What makes a meme?

Did you know the concept of memes has been around since the 1980s? This article defines memetics, explains the role of the modern meme and provides a 30-year history of the concept. The cultural communication phenomenon is analyzed using the chaos theory. The author takes an in-depth look at common aspects of viral memes including humor, hoaxes and popular culture.

Image source: Gucci Instagram

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#2 Memes are changing the communication landscape

This article explores the role of memes in phatic, or routine social, communication. Distinct from other forms of phatic communication, the author discovered that memes are able to independently carry common meaning to a broad audience. The article explores the trappings of a viral meme and a new social structure based on common understandings of visuals rather than language.

Image source: me.me

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#3 Memes, and GIFs, and emojis, oh my!

Visual media, including memes, GIFs, infographics, selfies, emojis and video, have become essential to social media communication. This article identifies many ways that text communication can be analyzed but points out that the same methods of analysis are lacking for visual media. The article features discussion of the approach to visual content analysis, tracking methods, the anatomy of a meme, meme creation and symbolism.

Image source: Netflix is a Joke Instagram

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#4 Memes can drive results too

Trending topics have been quantifiable for a long time. This article posits an approach for tracking the spread of memes across the internet. Memes have long been accepted into personal and corporate social media communication and as with all communication initiatives, the ability to track and report results is critical. The article suggests a tracking method to report on interactions and the evolution of meme content.

Image source: Barkbox Instagram

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#5 The artistry behind successful memes

This article frames memes as cornerstones of digital culture and communication. Rather than categorizing memes as flippant art, the author organized them into three distinct genres. Memes were divided based on the content and subject of imagery, editability or likelihood that another user would produce a new iteration. These categories are specific to photo-based memes, but the author suggests additional research into applicability to digitally created memes.

Image source: Tarte Instagram

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