Today we live in a meme-age. Memes have become more than just a laugh, being instruments that carry strong messages with a tone of humour. Be it trolling politicians, or sending out a message about a grave issue, the memes have become the fastest carriers of doing so. Defined by the dictionary.com, a meme is an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means. Google also defines it as an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations. Paul Gil’s defines it as a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea.
Memes have the potential of being an influencer and attracting more audience, most of them being the youth. It’s no surprise that most tech companies and social media based companies like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter target the young population, understanding that they are the future continuing customers. Youngsters too join these platforms because they are easily influenced by the modern tech changes that come in being. The platform helps them connect and communicate and they join such platforms to gain a social status on online forums.
Thus, many companies, even the giant ones among them, advocate memes as promotions to attract teens. These companies too come up with several innovative strategies and engage their audience by raising their curiosity. For instance, Facebook does not simply use the Facebook page but also Instagram, Facebook watch, Lasso, IGTV. Though Facebook watch has failed, IGTV has gained some popularity, but its success isn’t a huge one. Teens these days are flocking towards the use of Snapchat, Tiktok, Reddit, etc, that they are finding more exciting than the traditional news feed of Facebook. Facebook, despite its failures, hasn’t given up on attracting teens. It’s still working on LOL— a meme hub on Facebook to attract the youth.
According to a report by TechCrunch, LOL is a platform that Facebook is developing to serve as a hub for videos and GIFs. Facebook is facing a depleting youth market. The reasons for losing its youth base are many. To name a few, the foremost being the competition that is emerging from other platforms. Second, privacy concern that has made many to delete their accounts and last, the social media bullying that has led parents to ban or censor the use of platforms for their children. Targeting and getting the numbers of teens high is vital for the company’s future as it is this audience that will sustain the future growth of the company. Facebook runs on people, imagine you being the only one on it in the future, doesn’t make sense. Thus, getting in more youth population on it and engaged with Facebook, makes it a viable company for the future. Though using memes to attract the young population sounds like a solid plan, it isn’t a sure shot success.
Currently, LOL is being tested among 100 high school students (with parental consent) in The United States Of America. It is in its early stages. The LOL offers a theme-based collection of memes. The issue it faces is that most of the memes shared on LOL are stale. By stale, I mean that people have already viewed it on other platforms earlier other than Facebook. This creates doubt about the certainty of content. Thus, being an obstacle to LOL’s success.Josh Constine’s report on LOL posted on Tech Crunch suggests it to be a bridge between the traditional news feed and the meme focused content. Facebook must be very sensitive towards the platform its creating. As memes despite the several benefits, also can be a bane.
In a recent study conducted on teens in the UK, it was found that memes that glorify unhealthy eating habits normalise the unhealthy eating habits among teenagers leading to obesity problems. Apart from the direct impact on physical health, memes also influence the mental well being of teenagers. Memes on body shapes and sizes have created insecurities among teenagers who do not see them in the light of humour but personally apply it on themselves. Also, memes on the subject of mental health are dangerous, especially if they are based on how people perceive mental illness. This is because it might make the matter of mental illness very light among the audiences, which is hazardous. Thus, using memes to attract youth is a good technique but care must be taken about the content that LOL and other platforms are going to provide.
Picture Credits : techincidents.com