How digital connectivity played the unsung hero in the inauguration meme raising $1.8 million for charities and the lessons brands might learn from it.
The Bernie Sanders Meme
Unless you’ve spent the last few days living under a rock, you’ve at least come across the viral Bernie Sanders inauguration picture. The picture features the US politician sitting by himself in a pair of mittens, holding an expression that makes it ripe for “meme-ing”.
As with all memes, people got the ball rolling by sharing the picture for its intrinsic funniness, only for other popular memes to start getting photoshopped into it. Social media took care of the rest and now multiple charities across the state of Vermont are set to benefit from the $1.8 million raised from something as routine as a picture going viral.
Digital Connectivity: The Hero We Deserve!
Amidst all the buzz surrounding this story, it’s important to extend some credit to the modern phenomenon that allows memes to exist in the first place. The phenomenon we are alluding to is called Digital Connectivity.
Put simply, digital connectivity is the invisible force that enables connections between objects, systems and applications. Powered by digital networks, it allows for such uses as data processing, telephone networks and even the WiFi you’re probably using to read this blog post right now.
The transformative effect of digital networks and connectivity on aspects of life like work, travel, health etc., is well documented in countless articles and blogs (including some on our own website). What is left overlooked is their role in the proliferation of such a seemingly small yet significant part of lives as memes.
Not only did digital connectivity provide the framework for the Bernie Sanders memes to be circulated around the world, but it also made it possible for Bernie’s campaign team to roll out meme merchandise featuring the picture to be sold online. Network-backed online stores and payment gateways had to be in existence for that to be carried out.
Memes and the Internet
Memes have only been relevant for around a decade. And yet, they’re already so interwoven into the fabric of the human experience that it is impossible to imagine life without them.
The rise of the internet meme has gone hand-in-hand with that of the internet itself. The first echoes of memes started to be heard in the 1990s, right around the time that American businesses started providing private connections in some cities. E-mail, instant messaging, video chat etc., popularised the internet and memes along with them.
But it was only with the advent of social media that memes really took off. As people got more connected, they started sharing experiences and relating to each other for which memes served as the shorthand.
This just goes to demonstrate the relatively underappreciated ways in which the internet and digital networks as a whole add value to our everyday lives.
How Brands Use Internet Memes?
As with most things popular, brands have been quick to hop aboard trending memes, putting their own spin on them in an attempt to create engagement. Some like Internet Explorer have even gone viral in the past by poking fun at themselves, much like Bernie Sanders has done now.
Rather than pretend to be a true rival to the likes of Chrome and Safari, Internet Explorer embraced its outdatedness in a funny and charming video series.
Lessons Brands Can Learn
Embrace the Meme
The success of the ‘Bernie Sanders meme’ should be an eye-opener to brands. They would be missing a trick if they don’t loosen up and harness the viral power of the internet like so many others have done.
Make Hay While the Sun Shines
The internet in its current form is open and democratic, but there are no guarantees as to its preservation. Already, there have been threats to net neutrality, for example. Therefore, it is imperative that companies harness the power of the internet while it is still capable of creating viral magic.