Internet memes may be loved for their ability to get a laugh, but the medium is anything but silly. Today, memes consistently break through the noise on social and go viral. We took a look at the data behind viral memes to find out what content strategists can learn from the internet’s best jokes.

Memes are almost everywhere on the internet today. There are famous Instagram accounts dedicated to sharing memes – many of which have more than 10 million followers – and Facebook is scattered with a meme page for almost any niche group you could imagine.

Student Problems is consistently one of the top performing Pages on Facebook. This video pokes fun at the Page’s love of memes.

The key to memes is that they’re shareable, malleable, and funny. 

Remember planking? That was a meme. Vine, the now-defunct video-sharing platform, was almost only used to share memes. Memes are now commonplace and universally understandable, and marketers are tapping into the potential of viral memes to drive engagement in brand campaigns and on social.

Using Spike, we looked at how memes go viral. Our aim was to learn about creating engaging content on social – and to have a few laughs along the way.  

Lesson 1: Know the value of funny and relatable content

The most popular viral memes online – often referred to as “dank” memes – are images and short videos that are shared on leading social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

One of the most-famous meme pages can be found under @fuckjerry. The fuckjerry meme account began as Elliot Tebele’s personal Tumblr page, and soon expanded to include Instagram and Twitter accounts.

As Tebele’s meme pages have grown in size and following, the product has stayed the same: Memes, memes, and more memes.

Today, the fuckjerry social media accounts exist under the umbrella of marketing agency Jerry Media. What began as a one-man show has now become a business, with multiple pages and millions in ad revenue. According to a Forbes interview with Tebele, fuckjerry now has 40 million followers across social accounts plus a top-selling board game on Amazon and a digital media company.

Fuckjerry represents an entire media kingdom, built one meme at a time. Behind those viral memes are the makings of a media company that successfully reaches young consumers in a medium that has them liking, sharing, and laughing too.

Fuckjerry’s success highlights the value of funny and relatable content on social. Memes often represent the bare-bones of content – low-maintenance design, no high-tech graphics, and simple captions. And yet, the content consistently engages millions of social users.

Fuck Jerry Facebook
In the age of evolving media technology, content creators are often prone to jumping on the next big content trend. The popularity of memes show us that high-tech doesn’t always mean high-engagement, and often sticking to tried and true strategies of wit and relatability can be the top drivers of engagement.  

Lesson 2: Stay authentic

If you weren’t looking for sponsored posts on fuckjerry’s Instagram, you’d likely miss them – they have the exact same sarcastic and relatable tone that the account is known for.

Though product-placement posts are scattered throughout fuckjerry’s social media presence, they blend right in with the content that followers are used to. As a result, they often garner the same engagement as non-sponsored posts.

Take fuckjerry’s partnership with Malibu Rum, for example. Sporadically, posts that prominently feature a bottle of Malibu appear on the fuckjerry feed. These posts blend right in with the account’s usual posting norms: a simple picture, some ironic text, and a short, funny caption.

By using a consistent tone across content and platforms, fuckjerry has built loyalty and a dedicated fanbase from followers. Even the promotional content is funny, and many followers engage with it without noticing that its an ad at all.

The authenticity of the promotional posts is further amplified by the product that the account is promoting. An appreciation for Malibu rum fits right in with the products that FuckJerry’s predominantly Gen-Z and Millennial fan base already enjoy. As a result, the account remains authentic while driving revenue from brand partnerships.  

Lesson 3: Know which metrics matter

Its one thing to build towards a ton of followers; it’s a whole other challenge to develop an engaged follower base.

Engaged followers like posts, share content, and click on links – they can represent brand influence, and can also provide valuable statistics about marketing reach.

Meme accounts are often seen as some of the most valuable influencers on social precisely because they drive engagement and don’t just have high follower numbers. Furthermore, Digiday reports that this can make meme influencers incredibly economical.

While smaller meme accounts might not have the same follower numbers and famous influencer personalities, their high engagement levels can make them incredibly worthwhile for marketers. And without the high follower counts, partnerships with meme influencers can come at a much lower cost.

For example, the Facebook Page, “9 to 5 Life” has a much smaller following than the likes of Bored Panda and LADbible. That said, for July 2018, 9 to 5 Life had a comment rate of .26 percent, while Bored Panda and LADbible’s was .02 percent.

By partnering with a meme influencer page that generates consistent engagement, marketers can step up their influencer partnerships without completely breaking the bank.  

Lesson 4: Stay ahead of platform developments

In July, Fuckjerry announced that the company was partnering with Snapchat to begin a weekly show, called “FJerry’s Top 10”.

For Snapchat, the show is a chance to develop loyalty with its young users who are drawn to fuckjerry’s humor. The partnership demonstrates how influencers are playing a major role in Snapchat’s developments.

As well, the new Snapchat show has brought fuckjerry’s following over from Instagram onto Snapchat. The new content is an exciting move for both the platform and the publisher, bringing new opportunities for Snapchat and fuckjerry. The show launched in July and is released once a week.

(Want to keep an eye on Snapchat content? We’ve recently partnered with Snapchat to bring content from around the world directly to our platform.)  

Lesson 5: Know the power of influencer marketing

We know, you know, everyone knows: Influencer marketing works.

What meme accounts exemplify is that influencer marketing doesn’t always have to be conventional. Rather than marketing content that features Instagram models and aesthetically-pleasing images, a partnership with a meme account will focus on humor and wit. This can be remarkably successful for brands hoping to reach young consumers.

Furthermore, influencer partnerships with meme accounts can drive high engagement. Fuckjerry’s posts featuring Malibu gain often 1,000 times the number of likes than the posts on Malibu’s own Instagram page.

Similarly, theFatJewish, another famous meme account, has driven enormous engagement rates for emerging companies.

For example, a post on theFatJewish that promoted Badoo, an emerging dating app, generated more than 26,000 likes. In comparison, the number of likes on posts on Badoo’s own Instagram account never tops more than a few hundred.

Interested in keeping track of viral content across social platforms? Take a tour of Spike.

NewsWhip author