We largely know that younger generations have made memes a central part of their lives. Way more than just a tweet with some basic MS Paint editing skills, they ultimately represent an opportunity of expression that has become super valuable to Gen Zs and even Millennials.
So living in a COVID world now, does the same thing still apply? In the most uncertain period the world has seen in recent memory, do youth globally still look to memes with as much interest and intrigue as usual? Well, in a recent study of over 9,000 people worldwide, VICE Media reported that 72% of Gen Zs and 62% of Millennials they spoke to said memes are helping them get through the pandemic.
We looked at some examples of how brands are using memes to engage with Gen Zs during isolation recently, and there are even pages dedicated to coronavirus memes on social channels. So if you’re not really into meme culture, you might be thinking how the heck do young people relate to this stuff??? Let us do the explaining for you.
Humour Of All Sorts
Whether it’s dark humour, dank humour, or just general laugh-worthy meme content, humour is the front and centre reaction. The beauty of memes is that their often low-production value makes them a ground roots playing field – any one can make them, meaning that some of the content rules go out the window. Memes are taken less seriously on the surface level, meaning you often have the ability to push the envelope a bit (language and grammar for example sometimes takes a back seat). Even controversial topics are less taboo – fro example, a meme about mental health traits like anxiety, can potentially be relevant.
For example, look at the world we’re in right now. No doubt many Gen Zs are feeling increased levels of depression and anxiety, but the feeling that many are in the same boat means there is some flexibility in the content. Memes give young people around the world the opportunity to laugh and relate to various topics, in a low-budget way – and that’s especially important now.
This is a flow on from the point above, but memes also provide emotional connection for many – especially in times like this. Gen Zs and Millennials, like everyone else, are lacking in human connection. So memes often give that ability to reach out and engage with people you might not have normally interacted with. This is a rule that applies in COVID-19 and outside of it, but particularly during the pandemic – given most people haven’t been able to see even their closest friends and family.
From an aww moment, to wholesome sentiment, memes can invoke even the deepest of emotions in content that literally takes about ten minutes (if that) to create. The raw format of memes often means that there is little to lose – but a lot to gain.
In a world where tagging mates in content, or sharing it with a friend directly is the new norm – memes naturally become easily consumable. With changing algorithms all the rage, memes become content that are easy to engage with – often providing an opportunity to get early traction. And because there are so many memes sitting in Gen Zs social media timelines, it means that there is a low-barrier of entry for them to engage.
Turning this into a brand learning, memes give you the ability to drum up some social engagement – without having to create super ‘amazing’ content. Especially when you have a low engagement rate, they can be an uber-handy tool.
Between the emotions they invoke, to the low-production value nature, it’s not particularly hard to realise why Gen Zs and Millennials love meme culture. And especially now when the world is a pretty scary place, they provide them with a laugh, sense of escapism or emotional reaction you can’t often get with other formats.