Memes and Marketing

Ryan Tatum

JOUR 4270

Blog #3


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This most recent decade has been a very interesting one on the making. In a time where marketing and advertising rule the free world, dumb internet jokes have become the number one way to market to the general public via social media.

Sprout Social has a great article on memes and social media marketing describing why they have been so effective in recent years, making these key points:

  • Easy to read
  • Simple to digest
  • Shareable
  • Relatable
  • Trendy
  • Recognizable
  • To the point
  • Aim for the quick laugh

And once you break it down like that it really makes sense. The most effective ads used by companies are ones that make you happy, laugh, or any other positive emotions. Memes in a way are like an inside joke, but everyone that frequents the internet is in on it (which is almost everyone). This creates a sense of camaraderie and connection between people, knowing we all get the joke, and when the BRANDS get the joke, that makes them one of us, making them a more likely purchase.

Memes aren’t just used for marketing either, some memes are actual people. They put something online that went viral, a large number of people enjoyed the joke, and they want more. Rare occurrences like this jumpstart entire CAREERS. Which is just crazy.

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An example of this would be Laina Walker. She put up a parody video on YouTube, dubbing her the “Overly Attached Girlfriend,” jump to present day and her YouTube channel now has 1.2 million suscribers. These are the kinds of numbers that digital content creators work for YEARS to achieve.


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While memes are meant to be harmless fun most of the time, certain memes have also become the banner for hate speech. On sites like Reddit and 4chan, many anonymous users will target people, groups, or organizations attacking them online with hurtful messages accompanied usually by obscene images. Recently, Pepe the Frog, a very popular meme used in various places, was designated as a hate symbol by Anti-Defamation League. The meme ended up being edited and photoshoped in many scenarios to depicted racist, sexist, and other offensive messages all across the web.

In Summary, memes are incredibly strange. They are one of the essential tools of social media marketing, they can jumpstart entertainment careers, and are one of the main mediums used for online hate speech. Who knew such a silly idea could turn into such a big deal.

2010 – 2020 has been a weird decade, here’s to hoping it doesn’t get any weirder.

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism