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It’s no secret that humor serves as a highly effective tool to persuade people. It’s also safe to say that memes go beyond their humor, especially when it relates to marketing. However, meme design that is effective, humorous and with it’s own viral edge is tough to create. If you try to make a meme that is only relevant to a small group of people, it may not be as widely shared as an image that has more universal appeal. For designers as well as marketers, there are multiple things to consider when coming up with an effective meme design.
The word ‘meme’, originated first with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976. Combining the Greek word mimeme—translated to “imitated thing”—and gene. By Dawkins’ definition, memes are cultural ideas that spread and repeat themselves across society. Add the Internet and an evolving sense of humor, and you have the Internet meme. The internet meme is a vessel of communication, a signifier of the comedic zeitgeist, and a device for channeling the inherent anxieties of youth.
Meme design, mass appeal, and audience!
Memes hold great power to influence the way people think and act. A meme that doesn’t consider its audience, or chooses shock value, can backfire and be tough to come back from. A meme that’s offensive, irrelevant, or out of touch can quickly lead to some facepalms.
Overall, a good meme is successful when it is simple, funny, and appeals to a large audience.
Keeping this in mind, meme design should keep your buyers’ persona at the center of their brainstorming process. Sure, jumping on every viral meme trend might seem like an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. However, it might be in your brand’s best interest to reflect on the types of media your prospects and followers typically consume.
Simplified Tip: A good place to start with your meme design would be the interests and problems of your audience, where you might be able to find some common ground for humor.
Understanding the psychology behing viral meme design.
The most successful, or the content with the most derivatives, tended to be ones that provoked high-arousal emotions.
When we take this into the context of memes, high-arousal emotions can range from strong agreement and laughter to disagreement and anger. For example, a college student might love a meme that ridicules their rival school, but be angered at a meme that makes fun of a particular aspect of his school. Both possess the potential to cause him to interact with them as a user. By him sharing it, commenting on it, or retaliating with his own meme he is by extension, sharing your brand’s content, which remains a common goal across the marketing industry.
Meme design that doesn’t forget relevancy and relatability.
A good meme, that has the ability to go viral, is made with timing and location in mind.
This means that a meme’s “relevance to current events, its relation to extant successful memes, and the interests and values of the people using the spaces in which the meme is unleashed” all affect people’s “propensity to be infected by it.”
Thus, relatable content that’s relevant will always emerge on top, especially in terms of the virality of content.
Social validation & viral memes.
A successful meme will always make the viewer feel a sense of social validation. Social validation can be defined as the “tendency for individuals to look to others to see what others are doing to determine if a behavior is normative and appropriate”.
A good meme will use social validation to create a sense of collective identity.
For instance, take a meme depicting someone feeling clueless during an exam. Someone seeing this meme may feel relieved. Maybe because they are not the only one at their school that finds exams extremely difficult. Even though everyone may seem to be comfortable with the exam when they see this meme being liked and propagated. They feel a sense of collective identity and frustration with people in the same boat. He also realizes that he is not the only one–his experience is shared.
Sealing the deal with humor and authenticity!
Your main purpose when you decide to design a meme, that you also wish to be a viral hit, should be getting the humor right. A good meme is hilarious first, and a marketing tool later.
Logically, the more number of people who can understand, appreciate, and relate to a meme’s humor, the more popular it will become. A tried and tested way to go about this includes conducting good research, staying up to date with the current trends and memes. And, choosing a subject both you and your widest audience can relate to.
Where does the authenticity come in?
No, you can’t generate a viral trend each time you post and that shouldn’t be the standard either. What we mean by authenticity is that the content you share on your social media should be as accurate a picture of you as possible.
Instagrams style has transformed massively over the past decade. And highly staged images, with lots of polish and filter, just don’t work anymore. It’s no longer cool to be manufactured. Most brands are embracing a raw format when telling their story online. Due to this shift, we have also noticed an increase in some of the biggest brands turning to memes on social media every now and then. This gets them an edge over their competitors and convey their message to a larger audience.
Simplified Tip: Collect the right materials for your meme, this could be a trending meme format or an old meme that everyone is familiar with. Keep the content short and simple. Also, make sure you’re finding the right expression to convey what you’re trying to say.
On a concluding note, we’d like to tell our readers that not all memes need to generate a laughter riot. However, they can still be used on your feed, stories, and any other social media outlet that you communicate and socialize with. Sometimes the wildest things become the most popular memes. And, that’s exactly what’s so fascinating about meme culture as a whole.