Inherently, almost everyone on social media understands what a meme is. We communicate through silly pictures with witty text overlays. We know that memes comment on popular culture, and we love sharing them with family and friends for a quick laugh. However, memes hold a much deeper meaning in society. They are a form of modern communication that help us to unpack culture and identity.
Given this underlying importance, we took a deep dive into meme culture to provide context into how people, particularly Hispanics, make sense of the world through memes.
Memes are a unit of cultural information spread by imitation. While they are most recognized as funny jokes, there is a growing body of research that demonstrates that they are used for an array of purposes such as emotional expression, community building, and political protest. The images below depict some ways in which people have used memes to address social issues, such as mental illness and the border wall:
When examining memes from a Latino context, they provide a breadth of understanding of Latinos and their culture. Memes have become so popular among Spanish speakers that the term ‘memes’ is the second most commonly used English word when typing on a Spanish keyboard (Quartz “Memes Around the World” July, 2018). If you examine countries around the world that search Google for memes, the top 15 are Spanish-speaking. Additionally, Latino-specific meme accounts often rival top general market accounts like @thefatjewish in terms of engagement.
Through memes, Latinos unite over shared cultural experiences and pass down culture from generation to generation. Familiar themes — such as having strict Latino parents, overindulging in food, dealing with the challenges of being bilingual, among others — all speak to common events that validate the thoughts and feelings shared among Latinos:
Brands and marketers can build deeper relationships by using memes to both understand and connect with their audiences. People appreciate when brands take risks with memes to engage them. Just take care to do so authentically.
For a more detailed look at the meaning of memes in culture and tactical learnings for how brands and marketers can use them to win with Latinos, watch the live presentation below or download the deck HERE.