The Power of the Internet Meme

Memes and Internet fads have become an integral part of our digital society. A recent phenomenon, memes play a vital role that extends far beyond the instant comedic value they hold.

One of the most famous and successful memes of modern times is the success baby meme (pictured below) that you’ve no doubt seen. The image was captured at the beach and uploaded online and the rest is history. The photo soon went viral online and young Sammy became an Internet sensation.

Success Baby Meme

Marketing, advertising and promotions professionals all embrace memes as an inexpensive way of conducting business, not only is because they’re trendy, but also because they spread like wildfire.

Memes have harnessed the limitless potential of the digital age and the Internet, further reinforcing the power of the individual user. To some degree memes reflect the tone of todays social etiquette and norms.

The visual image of the fist pumping baby gives mature attributes to a toddler, which when combined with text creates a humorous entity. The success of the fist-pumping baby has been so significant that Virgin Mobile UK decided to use it in there advertising campaigns and sign the youngster to a lucrative contract.

Similar to the fist success baby meme is the sceptical baby meme, as seen below, which continues the comical nature of baby memes. With these parents also lucky enough to catch their toddler on camera in a priceless pose, the image went viral within weeks.

Skeptical Baby Meme

The images of these kids reflect feelings or emotions that are further accentuated in the text. This combination of humour and incomplete language has become a reoccurring theme among memes, and ultimately form new socially typifying languages that we as social media users have come to appreciate.

The viral power of the meme is only matched by the difficulty of knowing when you’ve found a winner. Marketers use famous memes in their advertising and subsequently pay a hefty sum to license the image. It would seem supremely easier and cheaper to simply just create a new meme and allow it to go viral, but therein lays the problem.

Memes are highly unpredictable and essentially untraceable: there is no recipe or hard science on which picture, video, or joke will go viral next. It can often take years for a meme to be discovered before it goes viral and there have been countless examples of this.

Remember Rebecca Black’s song “Friday”? Firstly my deepest condolences if you do. Secondly though, it is a great example of an Internet trend lying dormant before gaining unprecedented coverage years later. Black uploaded the video to YouTube way back in 2011, although it wasn’t until years later that it went viral after a Tweet caught the attention of thousands.

The scale of the song was unheard of, with over 167 million views and 3.1 millions dislikes (87% of the total ratings) it proved that terrible content can go viral just as much its popular or funny counterpart.

Much like the celebrated baby memes though, the financial fallout from the video was massive, where through two million ITunes downloads it earned Black $1.4 million in just a few days.

The power of memes is clear to marketers and advertisers, the real issues lies in replicating the science that makes them so popular. Much like the Internet itself, memes are dynamic and unpredictable in a way that coincides with topical issues currently prevalent within society.


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