Why are memes so great?


I wrote an article on the use of meme-marketing last year. Here’s an excerpt:

Here’s why memes are so great:

  1. Takes < 60s to create

  2. Rich, vivid sub-communication you’d take hundreds of words to describe explicitly

  3. And yet, consumption and comprehension are instant and effortless

  4. Hyper-targeted; only your customer avatar will get it 100%

  5. Humor; try disliking someone who makes you laugh

  6. Inside joke creates a sense of belonging

  7. Repels the non-avatar (this is meant for someone else)

  8. But even the non-avatar can appreciate and enjoy it

  9. Can be published stand-alone or paired with additional copy

By tapping into the shared consciousness you have with your avatar, you’re showing you GET THEM.

And when they believe you get them…they want to do business with you.

The Meme itself derives meaning from several layers of communication:

  1. The image is the base and conveys the majority through emotion

  2. The image copy that often follows a standard syntax associated with the meme

  3. The specific message for a targeted audience

Even if the reader has no prior exposure to the meme they will be able to understand it and relate.

Sorta like accurately guessing the meaning of an unfamiliar word when you read it in a sentence.

How to use the Meme:

  1. Standalone with a short, funny caption or anecdote to drive engagement

  2. Pair it with a story, lesson, and/or CTA

  3. As creatives for Facebook/Instagram/Twitter ads

The meme functions as both Attention and Interest in the AIDA framework.

Which means, they’re damn useful in a social media ecosystem to draw out your customer avatar and get them to click through to your profile.


From Dawkins, but moreso from Rene Girard, I believe Memes are a form of imitation. It creates a network of relationship among participants. The larger the network, the longer the meme acts on the participant, causing them to consolidate towards each other. This network effect is likely why it’s so powerful. On a darker note, Girard goes on to explain that imitation is actually an adversarial force that eventually leads to escalation of conflict, and the sacrifice of a scapegoat to de-escalate and a return to status-quo. But I’m not sure how or if it applies in this context.


I came across this interesting piece by Jeff Giesea on Medium

He’s a Meme Consultant. I don’t know if he’d call himself that but it’s funny as f*** to say it.

A Memetic Analysis Of #LearnToCode

When I train military officers on information warfare, I talk about the three S’s of successful memes: simple, sticks, spreads.

A meme needs to be simple. It needs to stick in the hearts and minds of recipients. It needs to spread like a virus and hold its form.

This week I could add “stings.”

Last week was brutal for journalism. BuzzFeed, HuffingtonPost, and others announced layoffs. 1,000 journalists would lose their jobs.

Trolls pounced. They taunted journalists with a meme called #LearnToCode. Even the President rubbed salt in the wound.

This is where we are: Culture wars fought through hashtags. This is an era of memetic warfare, as I’ve been warning for years.

Understanding why #LearnToCode works as a meme is instructive. Let’s take a look.

>> Continue reading <<


Language is evolving with technology and humans need a way to process communication faster. Just as Neanderthals drew cave pictures, humans are learning to communicate deeper direct communication via symbolism. All cyclical. Plus, memes are funny.