It’s fascinating how a meme can become so integrated into so many aspects of our lives. In order to understand that, one needs to grasp the concept of a meme. The trouble I often have is explaining to people what exactly a meme is. For those of who you are a little unclear, according to Wikipedia, a meme is:
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- an element of a culture or system of behavior passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.
- an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.
The second explanation is the most relevant to our everyday life in 2014. According to Social Fresh, “a meme is a categorisation of a cultural trend or truth, a unit for communicating and collectively sharing cultural ideas through words, symbols and pictures.”
What interested me the most about the concept of a meme is that it can becomes so integrated into so many aspects of our lives. How? Through social.
If it wasn’t due to social media and the constant flow of communication and sharing that surrounds our every day lives, these memes that we experience wouldn’t spread as rapidly as they do.
Ain’t nobody got time for that’
A perfect example is ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’. What started off as a news clip turned into a song mashup that went viral, which turned into numerous visual interpretations shared across the internet. Globally. Those variations in turn extended into a number of spin-off campaigns and jokes. Just recently I have heard not one, but three different song variations. From dance to jazz, the meme has become a part of daily life.
Check out this spin off:
What this demonstrates is the power of social and how ideas, and memes, can become a part of pop culture. If someone used the phrase ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’ the average person would immediately know what the speaker was referring to. And generally provoke a laugh or at least a smirk of sorts.
The phrase has almost become integrated into new age vocabulary in much the same way as selfie and hashtag have.
Why is this something to take note of?
Well as a brand, the power of viral and taking common day occurrences and events — like a woman whose house caught on fire — and turning them into pieces of content that can be enjoyed, consumed, shared and adapted, makes for a very powerful and captivating use of social.
Brands need to take cognizance of what may seem like trivial things on the internet, and harness their power to turn them into marketing campaigns.
From cat videos and singing babies to political satire, memes are one way that we share big cultural ideas. Memes are interesting from a marketing perspective because they tend to go viral: they resonate and gain momentum and exposure. Whether you create the meme or just spoof it while it’s hot, memes offer interesting room to for people to get creative.