By Mikinzie Stuart, PepperDigital

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then internet memes are the epitome of adulation.

Internet memes are often associated with catchword phrases like “going viral,” trending,” etc. But memes were around way before the internet was created. According to Wikipedia, a meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” So things like fad diets, collecting Beanie Babies, feathering your hair in the 70s and even certain aspects of politics and religion can be considered cultural memes.

With the advent of the internet, niche online communities created their own personalized memes, spreading them throughout their community.  Now that the internet has reached mainstream use, the things share through social media bridge the gap, becoming more ingrained in our overall pop culture. Just think of all those annoying people that use text-speak like LOL and BRB when speaking to someone.

An internet meme can be as simple as text or an image with a caption. Provided the concept stays the same between the imitated versions, the fad continues and the meme in turn grows and becomes a part of the internet’s culture.

But how do you start a meme? Easy. Make something creative and different enough that resonates with those in your network.

Often times people tap into emotions, usually humor, to appeal to others. Just look at what ‘Sh*t Girls Say’ started! One recent internet meme my colleagues, friends and even I have been jumping on the bandwagon for is the “What I Do” graphics.

But internet memes as a source of entertainment are not a new thing; remember when LOLcatz was the funniest thing to hit the interwebs? What about planking? Owling?

While memes are good fun and all, do they have any value for marketing? Of course. As digital marketers, we’re always thinking of ways new trends and platforms can be a vehicle for our client’s messaging or promotion. Memes are no different, but usually require a bit more production quality. Old Spice created a meme with it’s personalized YouTube videos responding to specific Twitter followers’ tweets, becoming not only the man your man could smell like, but the campaign your campaign could seem like.

Cut from the same cloth, Codeweaver personally addressed videos to The NYT’s David Pogue, WSJ’s Walt Mossberg, and Mac|Life editor Paul Curthoys to invite them visit their booth at Mac World and Ford invited writers to test drive their new vehicles.

However, memes don’t last a lifetime. Like the newest fashion trends, an internet meme is started, shared and replicated by others. Once it reaches its saturation point excitement and conversation peters out. You know you’ve reached this point when you’re so sick of seeing another planking photo or ‘Shit (blank) Says’ video that you could scream.

However, after its peak, memes cater to a very niche group: the die-hards that keep the conversations going. Case in point: I have an LOLcats calendar on my desk. This is the most loyal fans one can have, dedicated to one specific iota of internet pop culture. And if infiltrated, that can be a powerful audience in your campaign.

What are some of your most memorable memes?

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