In the past few years, I’ve seen Internet marketers divide themselves into two distinct camps: those who embrace memes and consider them a powerful marketing tool, and those who dismiss them as an off-brand waste of time. The battle lines have been drawn in blogs, forums, and by the water cooler, and there are compelling arguments for both cases.
But here’s the thing: The term “meme” has been in use for almost 40 years, encompasses a vast variety of cultural phenomenon, and is an absolute cornerstone of modern marketing.
If you’ve ever seen an Energizer Bunny commercial, been privy to a “Kodak Moment”, or watched as Gatorade was poured over a coach’s head and felt just the slightest twinge of professional jealousy, then you’ve already bought into the power of memes in marketing.
What Is A Meme?
This is a question that’s been asked many, many, many times, but I’ve yet to see a source that succinctly encapsulates the richness of the medium. In its simplest form, a meme could be thought of as the manifestation of a social phenomenon — one that spreads and evolves as it progresses throughout its lifespan. In its purest form, the term “meme” is broad enough to be applied to nearly anything (think Greek architectural styles still used today). But for the sake of this article, let’s boil it down to five relevant categories:
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