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Meme’s the word

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Neha-Goel-Final-imageDigital is no more a condiment; it is the main ingredient for an appetising media mix. The marketers are well aware of the fact. However, just knowing it isn’t enough.

As a consumer of digital content I wouldn’t be satisfied by just videos or random online contests. I need my brands to be quirky, funny and talk the language I understand best. This happens to be true for the digital medium as well. One tool that can easily be customised, can be funny and be used creatively by marketers is ‘meme’. However the tool remains untapped.

According to the Webster dictionary, meme refers to “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” In context to social media, meme is the name given to the characters of these comic strips that can be customised with respect to any situation and can be created in minutes by anyone. Memes have become a rage amongst college students. Classroom jokes get converted into a meme and get posted on Facebook. Before one knows it, it becomes viral in the college community. Memes on issues which have a larger scope get viral amongst a larger group of people. Key to a good meme is that it must be funny and catchy. It’s a simple tool. However, I haven’t come across a brand that has used it to launch a product or to weave a conversation around an issue with its young target group.

Memes, apart from being catchy also find their roots in a scientific theory called meme theory given by Richard Dawkins. Meme has come from the word mimeme which means ‘something imitated’. According to Dawkins, a meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.

Memes can be a good way of communicating and connecting with the youth. The limitation however remains that it is applicable for a niche audience. Nevertheless, the tool has potential to reach urban youth who are the TG of a lot of brands. Urban screenagers have great respect and appreciation for good humour. If a communication message can be framed using memes with good use of humour, it can help the brand connect with youth right away. Memes can be great conversation starters as well. However, like any other communication, the message must be at the core. Also, it must be used only if it goes well with the brand image.

The netizens are changing their preferences at a very fast pace. What marketers need to do is keep an eye because before they know it there’ll be a new trend going the rounds. Simple tools like memes are cost effective and just require innovation from the marketer’s end. A low-cost, high-impact communication tool, what else can one ask for?

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Jyotsna Sharma

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