Memes in Digital Marketing: Tips to Use Them Effectively

Date: 2023-12-04 | Time of reading: 6 minutes (1115 words)

A meme is an idea or image that becomes a media virus. Funny and timely memes penetrate all aspects of our lives, including the world of marketing.

Well-known memes are created based on templates, and people adapt them to their own situations. For example, Boromir saying, "One does not simply walk into Mordor."Many brands have used this meme on their social media.

In this article, we will explain what a meme is, delve into its history, explore why they are so popular, and discuss how to use them in digital marketing.

The history of memes

The word "meme" comes from the ancient Greek word "mimeme," which means "an imitator." This term was first introduced by Richard Dawkins in 1976 in his book "The Selfish Gene." Dawkins used this term to refer to popular trends and ideas that are passed down from one generation to another.

The very first meme appeared in 1921 and was found in the American humor magazine Judge. The caption for the image read: "How you think you look when a flashlight is taken | How you really look."

First meme in the humor magazine JudgeAn old meme in the humor magazine Judge

Currently, a meme is considered a combination of different symbols and phrases that spread rapidly on the internet. Memes are often confused with viral content. However, their difference lies in the fact that viral content is shared in its original form, while memes are adapted to the situation or, in the case of brands, to the company's style.

Next, let's break down the stages of meme popularity: inception, peak, and decline.

Inception of memes

A meme can be anything – a famous person's quote, news, movie moments, posts, and more. The essential thing is that the event should evoke strong emotions in people and trigger a chain reaction.

"Homunculus Loxodontus," also known as Zhdun, is a sculpture created by Dutch artist Margriet van Breevoort and is a part of the Leiden University Medical Center's art collection. The sculpture features an elephant seal-like head, human hands, and a body resembling a bean bag chair. It symbolizes patients waiting for diagnoses in hospital corridors and aims to bring cheer to those who encounter it.

In 2017, a visitor posted a photo of Zhdun on the Russian social network Pikabu, where it gained the name "Zhdun" derived from the Russian word "zhdat," meaning "wait." The meme resonated with post-Soviet states, reflecting on the history of waiting in long lines for essentials in the Soviet era. The meme's captions humorously expressed the idea of waiting, such as "waiting for my salary" or "waiting for Friday." Zhdun was also photoshopped into famous artworks, TV series, movies, and used as a critique of the Russian Postal Service, becoming a widespread internet phenomenon.

Peak of popularity

With the evolution of social media, memes have become more accessible. Some of them experienced explosive growth in popularity, becoming true cultural phenomena, while others remained relevant for just a few days. For example, in 2013, a Japanese Shiba Inu dog named Kabosu became famous because of its "smile." Pictures of the cheerful dog spread across the internet and quickly became a meme.

Meme as effective marketing toolMemes are an effective digital marketing tool


Over time, some memes lose their relevance and popularity. This is often due to changes in the context, shifting audience interests, or the emergence of new, more relevant memes.

The secret to meme popularity

The popularity of memes can be explained by several factors. Firstly, they have high virality, making them easy to share on social media platforms. Secondly, memes evoke strong emotions such as laughter, nostalgia, and joy, making them attractive to a broad audience.

Memes help users:

Find like-minded individuals: Memes that resonate with one group of people may not interest another, allowing people to segment themselves based on their interests.

Quickly respond to situations: A meme picture can replace thousands of words, and users enjoy sharing humorous images on social media. This makes meme creation an excellent marketing tool for companies, as exemplified by Audible.

Creating Content: Memes assist users in devising humorous images tailored to specific situations, all without violating copyright laws.

Thus, well-known memes reflect digital culture and folk creativity. Just as legends, folktales, and proverbs were passed down in the past, new memes are now disseminated, showcasing the evolution of storytelling and cultural expression in the digital environment.

Using Memes for Promotion

Companies are increasingly using memes to promote their products. This tool grabs the audience's attention and generates positive emotions.

Companies share memes on social media platforms and messaging apps, often creating creative marketing memes, such as using famous characters like Harold in advertising.

To integrate memes into a marketing strategy, consider the following guidelines:

  • Understand your target audience: Study your audience's needs and desires to create unique and relevant content.

  • Build brand recognition: Use memes that are associated with your brand to increase brand awareness among your audience.

  • Stay current with events and trends: Respond to current events and trends to keep your brand relevant and closer to your audience.

  • Encourage followers to create memes related to your brand: Engage your audience and grab their attention by inviting them to create memes related to your brand.

Marketing professionals primarily use their memes not for directly selling products or services but for increasing brand visibility, SMM promotion, and enhancing brand image. To strengthen the impact, you can adapt meme images to your brand's style by incorporating your font, color scheme, and logo.


Memes are not only a source of entertainment but also a powerful tool in digital marketing. Their advantages include quick transmission of essential information, positive interaction with users, and increased brand visibility.

When using memes, it's important to consider context and cultural nuances to effectively engage with the audience and create unique marketing campaigns.







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