A look at modern meme culture and how you can build your own memes with Contentful

Chemistry Cat. Salt Bae. Doge. Roll Safe. No matter who you worship, one thing is clear—memes have become an integral part of our lives online.

Memes have taken over our news feeds and even invaded our offline realities through weird t-shirts and inappropriate party games. But even while they make the world bizarre and frightening at times, it turns out—there’s academic proof that memes are a good way to up your content game.

In this article, we’ll cover who (sort of) invented memes, why we continue to allow them to rule the internet, and how you can create the next viral sensation using Contentful.

A brief history of memes

The term ‘meme’ was coined way back in 1976 by biologist Richard Dawkins. In his book The Selfish Gene, Dawkins described memes as a form of cultural propagation, where people pass a social idea or system of behavior between one another. To really drive his point home, Dawkins uses the metaphor of a virus. So similar to how a virus can be transmitted from body to body; a meme can travel from mind to mind.

dawkins

In the final chapter The Selfish Gene, Dawkins wrote a section titled, “The computers in which memes live are human brains.” There, he predicts that computers will inevitably play host to “self-replicating patterns of information” (memes) and mentioned things like floppy discs and computer viruses…

But I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting this:

Halloween costume found. Credit: @kreationsministern @food.envy

A post shared by BETCHES (@betches) on

Behold the modern internet meme

Since the inception of the internet in the 1980s, nothing has both amazed and baffled the masses more than the evolution of memes. The beauty of modern memes is that they can be almost any idea or concept expressed in some form of online content. An animal, a GIF, some words, an emoji, a tweet—you name it.

Many debates are swirling around the web over which meme came first. Some say it was Bert Is Evil, the trend where people took Bert from Sesame Street and photoshopped him into images with villains throughout history (think Osama Bin Laden or the KKK) because it mustered up international media attention. Others claim it dates back to the sideways smiley emoticon :-) Instead of getting involved, I’ll just direct you to this Thrillist article where they consult actual meme historians in an attempt to solve this argument.

The most critical takeaway with memes is that mass sharing is what gives memes their power. The more humorous or extremely relatable a meme is, the more it will be shared and the more traction it will gain.

2017 therapy sessions @tragicallyhere

A post shared by @friendofbae on

A majority of modern memes are captioned photos that are intended to be funny, often as a way to ridicule human behavior—or as I would prefer to say, convey life-affirming truths:

Also me going up for free samples 💁🏼

A post shared by Lola Tash and Nicole Argiris (@mytherapistsays) on

So, can memes enhance your content?

Definitely. If done right, memes can drive more traffic and give your content some edge. This so-called ‘Meme Marketing’ allows brands and consumers to speak a common language, not to mention that people spend over an hour per day on social media so they’ll probably see it if you put it out there. There are just a few guidelines to follow: Be authentic, don’t take yourself too seriously, and stay topical.

Here are two slightly dated, but still flawless examples from Jimmy John's and Ruffles:

Making memes with Contentful

To start building your own memes using Contentful, you first have to go into your space, select Media, and add a new single asset. Then you can upload your image through our drag-and-drop feature or by using the file picker.

Once you’ve uploaded your image, click on Edit File. At the top of the image editor, you’ll see a list of icons. Click on the righthand arrow to show more options, and you should see a little cat icon with Meme underneath.

Enter your text, click Apply, and there you have it! Your very own meme.

making-memess

Show us what you’ve got

Well I hope you’ve either learned a lot, or realized that you are meme trash just like I am. Regardless, if you build a meme with or about Contentful—we want to see it. So tweet at us or tag us on Instagram . Who knows, you may even get something nice in return 😏

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