Memes: what cat memes can teach us?

5 min readAug 25, 2020

The word meme originally was explained in a book published in 1976 — The Selfish Gene — which describes a meme as a social unit that is shared and passed down throughout generations, similar to what occurs with a gene in the biological sense.

But the term has since developed, and internet memes are images that have text overlaid on top or bottom, often for a humorous purpose. Internet users are responsible for spreading variations. Because digital culture allows us to be content creators, you can generate your memes.

Why has it become so important? Because it spreads cute cats across the web and it triggers and engages us emotionally the same way ‘’Fake News’’ do. Or is it the opposite? Some research is showing that Fake News spread was based on the way Memes are spread.

If you want to check a scientific model that tries to understand how memes spread, check this study under Creative Common license.

What values can memes add to businesses and brands?

Memes are a powerful tool if you want to be part of pop culture and reach millennials and gen Z. Did you know that last August 14th Warner Music Group announced that they bought a media company known for making memes and viral videos for Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok? The price they paid? $85 million.

Why would they do that? Because the music industry is often willing to trade with the new generation that is a digital native. It is not easy to understand. This media company targets themselves as makers of youth culture and is not only specialised in making humorous memes; they are run by the same generation who love memes. Meaning, they know in-depth their peers and can speak the native language of their audience.

Memes may be silly in the eyes of some people; it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just don’t take it too seriously and find the hook of humour that your audience would find acceptable from you. In a way that does not denigrate your product of services, but enhances the perception that you speak their language, that you know them and you care about them!

When did it start?

Memes are not new. Can you believe that Meme Manager has been a job role since 2009! You may not remember, but in 2009 the CAT meme phenomenon started, and it was because of a leap of faith of Ben Lashes, one of the first Meme Managers that ever existed. He is behind the Keyboard Cat and later, he was also responsible for the award winner account, the Grumpy Cat.

What can we learn from Cat memes?

In 2014 Abigail Posner, Head of Strategic Planning And Agency Development at Google, talked to INC.Com and there is an important lesson to be learned from Cats:

“In the language of the visual web, when we share a video or an image, we’re not just sharing the object, we’re also sharing in the emotional response it creates.”

“We are continually offering each other little gifts, little moments of pleasure that remind us we’re truly and deeply bonded to one another.”

In the end, we are looking for connection.

If you have seen a specific meme on the internet and you want to understand how it all started, there is a online database you can access: It will explain the source of the original image, the connections made, who were the early adopters, how it spread and will give you the template in case you want to make your meme.

Have Fun!

How can you connect with your audience through memes?


1. You can track memes that are popular at the moment and use memes generators to interact with your audience using some humour. You can pick a popular meme and change the message to something that makes sense to your audience.

2. If you trust your sense of humour, you can try and create memes, who knows if the inexplicable maths of the internet will transform it into a phenomenon.

3. Be aware of the connections between you, your audience and pop culture. It’s more about understanding a sense of humour rather than being a good photographer or designer.

Finally, it is not expected that the meme will have high-quality images or unique fonts and visual design. The memes generators are enough for you to spread your message.

Here are three examples:

1- If you have a local business, play with the attributes you bring to the planet.

2- If you run a brand that is for a female audience, find some pop artist that has the attitude you want to play with.

3- You might be having a technical issue and need to communicate with your audience knowing they are already upset, memes can break the ice.

If you are really into memes, there is also a game you can try with your team. I haven’t tested it, but it is a game to play with friends, and eventually, you could play around to generate ideas.

What do You Meme Game

Memes are one type of content of many other genres, and they can be integrated into your content strategy. Understanding your audience and knowing your values are the first steps you need to take before defining your content. Have a look at the Creative Content Kit for more information on Content Strategies.

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Ana B.