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The Power of Memes: Enhancing Your Social Media Strategy

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August 14, 2023
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9 minutes
You might have heard of the Internet phenomenon called Barbenheimer, where the simultaneous release of two very different blockbuster movies Barbie and Oppenheimer resulted in Internet users flocking to social media platforms to create memes, funny advertising posters and creative video edits about them.

There is no doubt that this rare and unexpected event greatly benefited the two movies, boosting their coverage just as effectively as any other paid-for marketing campaigns, and attracting moviegoers to the cinemas.

The movie industry is even attempting to replicate this phenomenon with its SawPatrol campaign, which is to do with the horror movie Saw and children's film Paw Patrol. Whether this move will be successful or not is uncertain, but it is undeniable that utilizing Internet trends and memes, if done right, can be very lucrative for businesses, especially in the entertainment industry.

Do memes make the internet a better place? Let's find out!

What are memes and why does the Internet like them?

A meme is defined on Wikipedia as “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.”

On the Internet, memes refer to jokes that spread organically by the public, often without other external forces. Internet memes can come in a wide variety of forms, from funny image or video edits to quotable lines from popular media, and even viral social media challenges on TikTok.

Do memes make the internet a better place? Basically yes, it’s because people have always liked jokes and funny things, and thus love receiving and sharing them, whether it’s a word pun or a long joke with a clever punchline. An internet meme is just a new type of joke.

The advancement in Internet technology and social media have also made it very easy for everyone to consume and share funny things online, and since memes are typically very quick to view, understand and enjoy, they have become a crucial part of Internet culture.

Meme trends often start out by one person making a funny observation, joke, which many people like and share them with other people. Social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook would then promote such content to more and more people, after which more users would produce similar content with their own unique twists.

Ultimately, this process makes the subject that the memes are based on a lot more well known.


  • Meme trends are a great way for ideas to spread around, so using them in social media marketing can be lucrative
  • Memes can help your business and products stay relevant for a long time, appear more relatable to young people, and occasionally convey the key points of your products
  • To use memes in marketing, one should pay close attention to new meme trends and be “in on the joke”, or have social media staff create and share memes by themselves to boost meme trends organically
  • Be careful of seeming offensive or copyright infringement. Businesses are more likely to be held accountable for their remarks compared to random Internet users.

Why incorporate memes into social media marketing?

1. Cultural relevance

Memes are a reflection of current cultural moments, trends, and conversations. By using memes, brands can show that they are in tune with what's happening in the world, thereby positioning themselves as relevant and current. This can foster a sense of connection between the brand and its audience.

I'm sure that just by mentioning "
I am inevitable" or "Perfectly balanced", a lot of you will immediately recall Avengers

Infinity War is already a very popular movie, but the fact that many people enjoy making memes out of its quotable lines definitely played a big role in keeping the movie on the minds of online users for a long time after its release. It is basically free marketing.

By tapping into the cultural relevance of memes, brands can connect with audiences in a way that's timely, relatable, and resonant. It's a way of saying, "We see what's happening, and we're a part of this conversation too." However, this requires a genuine understanding of the meme's context and a thoughtful approach to its use.

READ MORE: Meme Marketing: The Future of Social Media Marketing

2. Attracting younger audiences

According to Gen Z & Millennial market research organization YPulse, 55% of 13 to 35 year-olds send memes every week, and 30% send them every day. While this report was made back in 2019, it is undeniable that memes are something that a lot of young people consume (and thus get information from).

Source: Ypulse

Traditional advertising can sometimes come across as overly polished or insincere. Memes, by nature, are more informal and can give brands an authentic voice that resonates with younger individuals who value genuineness.

However, it's important for brands to approach meme marketing with caution. Younger audiences are also savvy and can easily detect when a brand is trying too hard or appears inauthentic in its use of memes. It's essential to be genuine, updated with the latest trends, and ensure that memes align with the brand's identity and values.

3. Enhance engagement

Memes are designed to be shared. When users share a meme from a brand, it not only extends the content's reach but also acts as a form of endorsement, potentially bringing in new followers or customers.

For example, Flex Tape is a tape product from the US for emergency repairs, and it has grown popularity on the Internet due to its outlandish commercials, one of which featured a boat being sawed in half and repaired with the product (with over 33 million views). They spawned many quotable lines that many Internet users found funny, including “I saw this boat in half!” and “That’s a lot of damage!”.

Source: YouTube

More importantly, many people have come to know of the tape’s impressive adhesive property thanks to the funny commercials and people sharing memes about it. On one of its video’s comment sections, there are numerous people vouching for the product’s quality despite all the jokes about it.

It should be noted that while the commercial itself did a good job showcasing the product’s capabilities, the memes definitely played a no-small part in helping people remember the commercial and the products’ quality. If the commercial had just been safe and functional, the Internet might not have paid this much attention to it.

When an Internet user came across “I saw this boat in half!” or a variation of the meme, they might not be aware of Flex Tape’s full capabilities, but they would definitely remember how a repair tape product fixed up a boat sawed in half, which - again - is like free marketing.

As such, having memes made about a positive aspect of your products is a very good thing, since they will convey that aspect to many people in a very quick and engaging manner, a lot more effective than just a simple commercial.

A creative and expensive commercial is not the same as an Internet meme, but Flex Seal clearly showed an understanding of Internet culture, as they have been trying to replicate this success with more and more funny commercials to get people to watch, share them online, and to make jokes about them.

How best to use memes in marketing?

1. Identify meme trends quickly

Memes, by nature, are often fleeting phenomena. They emerge, peak in popularity, and then may fade as new trends arise. Being among the first to adopt a trending meme ensures that the content feelstrendy and get people to know you.

Duolingo, for example, is a popular language learning app featuring a cute mascot owl. It has been doing a very good job on branding itself as a fun, non-serious brand, by acknowledging and reacting to new Internet trends.

When Twitter declared its decision to ditch its signature blue bird emblem, it became the subject of numerous memes. The very next day, Duolingo released a clever meme in response, attracting a wave of positive feedback and amassing over 171,000 likes.

Source: Duolingo’s Instagram

Its Instagram account is currently filled with memes and humorous images related to the owl and the trending Barbie movie, including the owl being dressed in pink Barbie clothing, capitalizing on the movie's current popularity.

However, while there are numerous advantages to catching meme trends early, it's crucial for brands to exercise caution. Rapid adoption without understanding the context or sentiment of a meme can backfire. Brands need to ensure that the meme aligns with their values, doesn't offend any group, and resonates authentically with their audience.

2. Be “in on the joke”

Sometimes a meme trend will arise that can poke fun at an element of your product and service, but if you know how to respond, you can make it so that people are “laughing with you” instead of “laughing at you”.

Back in around 2019 a lot of people took notice of Duolingo’s sense of humor within the app, and its tendency to remind users not to forget lessons, and so they made plenty of memes about how the owl stalks and threatens users to keep up with the language lessons.

While these memes are definitely not in line with the app’s core tone, Duolingo smartly leaned into the memes, making an April Fools video on its official YouTube Channel about how the owl can stalk users in real life.

The video was a great success with nearly 8 million views, and garnered plenty of positive attention, solidifying its brand image in the minds of potential customers. To this day its social media pages still make memes and video commercials about this aspect of the app, and many people still enjoy making jokes about it, thus promoting it.

3. Don't force it!

While utilizing meme trends can be an effective tool, if done poorly it can backfire greatly. Whenever a company tries to ride a trend in a way that seems “cynical and forced”, the Internet can often see through this attempt, and they may actually suffer from negative online press.

The above mentioned SawPatrol campaign is already seeing negative push backs from Internet users who think that the studio is just cynically taking advantage of a new funny trend. Whereas Barbenheimer just involves two really well-made products that happen to interact with each other in an accidentally funny way.

Here are some small tips to ensure authenticity for your memes:
  • Understand where it comes from and what it means
  • Test your memes with a small audience segment
  • Gather feedback and adjust based on the reactions

4. Have people "plant" the memes

Following the release of the film F9: The Fast Saga in late June 2021, the Internet saw a rise of the meme of "Nothing is stronger than family" by the main character, who often talks about the importance of family across the Fast and Furious franchise.

Source: Twitter

Many people enjoyed the meme, but several have suspected that this sudden popularity of the meme is the work of (or at least a large part due to) the studio itself, hiring people to make memes and share them.

Personally I do subscribe to this theory since the memes itself are rather “safe” as opposed to containing a pinch of dark humor like a lot of organically-generated memes, and how their sudden rise in popularity just “happened” to promote a very new movie.

Nevertheless, the Family meme still stuck around, making people more aware of the new release.

Therefore, it can be a good idea to make memes yourself. You can carefully examine your product to see if any funny observation can be derived from it, then have your social media workers create memes and share them online, interacting with each other's posts to boost their engagement.

This is definitely easier said than done, as it requires a deep understanding of Internet culture, how memes spread organically, and most importantly, how to be funny! Thorough and continuous research of Internet culture is key.


The Internet is often a fickle and unpredictable beast, and trends can arise from just the simplest random thing. For businesses, it’s usually not about creating memes, but rather quickly making use of hot meme trends.

Trying to use memes for social media strategies can be tricky, but with a thorough understanding of Internet culture and your target audience, and knowing how to smartly nurture trends or be in on trends, it can bring you great and unexpected success. Just be careful not to be too insensitive!

Of course, keeping track of online trends can be difficult and tiring, so that's why there are many consultancy services which can lend you a helping hand. One of them is Consultport, who can provide highly experienced social media consultants and digital experts for your social media campaigns. Contact us today to improve your social media strategies!

What are some of your favorite examples of meme trends and viral marketing? Let us know!