Published 17 November 2017 Category: Compass Leisure

Memes: Where Did It Begin?

What’s your favorite Internet meme? Perhaps it’s Grumpy Cat or the ever-popular Simpsons. Maybe you’re a connoisseur of the Dancing Baby. But where the heck did these memes come from, and why aren’t they going away? Before we get into the history of Internet memes, here’s a little disclaimer: we willingly and frantically sought to fill this blog with our favorite memes - none of which have anything to do with the content itself other than the fact that we’re talking about memes today.

What are Memes?
Memes are an idea or joke expressed through content on the Internet. Memes can be a photo, video, person, fictional character, song, event, gif, Tweet - the possibilities are endless. It’s simply a memorable piece of content that gets spread widely across the Internet because of its relatability and humour.



The History of the Meme
The history of the meme started in 1976 when Zoologist, Richard Dawkins published a book titled, The Selfish Gene. In this book, he claimed that ideas were like organisms, able to spread and mutate. Of course, he made sure to notate that some ideas are more successful at spreading (now, we’d call it becoming “viral”) than others.

Dawkins named this concept “mimeme,” which is from the Greek word meaning “that which is replicated.”

He later abbreviated it to meme, because it sounds similar to genes, which can be replicated and spread. As the Internet advanced and became more accessible to people, memes continued to grow. Now, Dawkins’ concept turned into the hilarity that we know as Internet culture. It’s hard to pinpoint the very first Internet meme, but one of the earliest was the 3D Dancing Baby.

Memes in Social Media Marketing
Creating and sharing memes on social media heavily influences Internet culture. We want to laugh. We want to feel included in an Internet-wide inside joke. This means users don’t want annoying promotions or company-made content to interrupt a good time. That’s why marketers should get in on the fun and share meme-themed content to their social media profiles. This is particularly important if your audience is Millennials - the people who made the meme what it is today.

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Be Creative
Creating memes from scratch requires creativity, and for you to know and understand your audience. If you want to incorporate memes into your content marketing, start by hiring nerds and weirdos. Seriously. Memes are only funny when they’re genuine. Grow your content marketing team with people who understand the language.

Have Fun
Be funny and have fun. When you take yourself too seriously, you lose the intent of the meme. Be prepared to seem a tad foolish, and understand that it’s all in good fun.

Engage, Engage, Engage!
Encourage engagement. Use hashtags, so your content will reach more people. Be timely. Pay attention to trends, seasons, popular events, and design your memes based on those.

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                                                             Check out the 12 times "The Simpsons" predicted the future.

When NOT to use memes
In marketing, you can use memes for grabbing your audience’s attention. However, there’s a time and a place for memes. Use them sparingly. Picking the right place for a meme starts with understanding your audience and your brand. If you feel your audience wouldn’t appreciate or understand a certain meme, don’t use it. If you’re writing content about something serious (like say cancer prevention), memes may not be the best option, as it could come off as insincere.

Don’t force it. If the meme doesn’t seem right or doesn’t fit with the content you’re writing, omit it. Save it for a more engaging, fun topic. If you don’t understand a meme (or if you don’t find it funny), don’t use it. Most importantly, if your audience won’t find it funny, don’t use it.

A lot of things happened at the end of the 20th century, but all of a sudden, a conversation could become universal in seconds. Memes – ideas, behaviors or styles that spread from person to person within a culture and evolve in an unpredictable and random way – found the perfect place to grow: the Internet. Memes never had such a fine environment to grow. Memecracy was born and it's here to stay today!