This is a guest post by Ben Farmer from Ivory Design.
Memes are created, appreciated and adored by all kinds of people. Business owners and online marketers love them because they’re a great way of enticing traffic to your site: legions of geeks like me will waste hours (literally hours) giggling at and sharing these weird little pictures we find funny.
Graphic and web designers love them the way head chefs and food critics secretly love McDonald’s: after a lot of hard, carefully thought out work, goofing off with a picture of a crazy dog with the caption “ermahgerd” is junk food for the eyes. And the Internet using public loves them because most of them are brilliantly funny. Some border on Dadaists weirdness and some border on artistic genius, but they all give the same end result: me giggling in a very undignified way, before clicking “Like” or “Pin This”.
It’s not so easy as jumping on whatever bandwagon’s currently getting the most Pins or Re-tweets, however: there are a couple of guidelines you can follow to ensure that a geek like me will giggle at your meme rather than hate or, worse, ignore it.
Follow me, geekbaiters!
Guideline no. 1: Thou Shalt Be Original
Lolcats are great, but they’ve hit saturation point. If you’re looking to create memes to place near adverts which need a good CTR or with which you want to go viral, you’ve got to be fresh. Jumping on bandwagons isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’ve got to be quick. Very quick. An indicator of how quick is best illustrated by the fact that, if I mentioned a new meme in this article, by the time you read it, it’ll already have hit saturation point.
One does not simply copy other memes if you’re after true viral impact: hire a geeky blogger or even a colleague’s son or daughter with a wacky sense of humour to create a little image or video for you. When reviewing it, try to put yourself in the mind of a computer geek (if you can imagine your meme on the front of a t-shirt worn by a character from The Big Bang Theory, you’re in with a chance). If that fails, email it to your younger family members or show it to your kids on Facebook (if they’ve allowed you to add them, that is). The “lol” is the currency of the meme: get a “lol” or two and you can comfortably run with it.
Guideline no. 2: Thou Shalt Not Overthink
Numa Numa guy didn’t have even the briefest brief when he made his incredibly popular video. If you find yourself in a board meeting over creating your meme, stand up and walk out of the meeting room a la John Cleese with a note on your back reading “Follow Me LOL”. Only get someone to film it first.
That’s actually quite a good idea. Just don’t blame me if you get fired.
Guideline no. 3: Thou Shalt Not Fake
Especially in the case of FAILS, people can tell if a supposedly spontaneous moment has been staged. Don’t try and stage a person’s slacks falling down during a presentation: it’ll look fake and only get derided. If you can capture this moment as it genuinely happens, however, you’ve hit gold.
Guideline no. 4: Thou Shalt Work with Animals and Children
Keep a camera on your pet or toddler long enough and they will eventually do something wonderfully funny. Just don’t let them get into dangerous situations.
Charlie Bit My Finger, one of the most famous memes of all time, happened randomly whilst two children were being filmed by their dad. He only put the video online to show their extended family: now they’re internationally famous. (Bear in mind that your kids may not thank you in their teen years for being made baby stars.)
Guideline no. 5: Thou Shalt Love the Meme
Research is just as relevant in this field as it is in all others. Spend a couple of hours an evening exploring the world of online memes to get a taste for them. If they don’t make any sense yet, just give it time.
Hopefully this has given you a good idea of what to do to make yourself some respectable meme content. Feel free to ignore any or all of the above guidelines: after all, most of the best memes weren’t made with going viral in mind, they were just made for fun.