How to Make Your Own Viral Meme Video

Three happy friends checking viral meme videos outside on the street

The world’s appetite for memes is at an all-time high. How high? According to Instagram, over one million memes are shared every day by its users. That’s an insane amount of sharing. Crazy to think that a few years ago instead of sending memes were just drawing graffiti in bathroom stalls. Anyway, meme sharing isn’t going anywhere; if anything it’s likely to increase in the years ahead.

But just what is it about memes that keeps everyone laughing and scrolling for hours? Maybe it’s because memes and meme videos allow us to quickly express something in a familiar, visual format. So far, the tumultuous 2020s have proven to be the perfect backdrop for exactly the sort of social commentary and comic relief that memes provide.

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Why are meme videos so popular?

Meme videos allow us to succinctly express our thoughts on a range of shared human experiences and current events in a funny, concise visual format. For established businesses or personal brands who want to be perceived as serious or authoritative, humorous messaging can seem like a step in the wrong direction. But there are ways to remain true to your voice while tweaking your tone to suit new meme formats and appeal to new audiences.

If you’re a marketer, or an independent creator trying to build an audience, but you’re hesitant to wade into the world of meme videos, even questioning whether memes are a good match for your brand, it’s important to consider why meme videos are so popular and how your brand might benefit from them.

  • Memes are a form of entertainment. Meme videos and social accounts that feature memes are popular across all ages and demographics because they make people smile. Researchers estimate that millennials alone look at 20 to 30 memes in a single day.
  • Memes are made for sharing. A well-received meme will get a positive response in the form of likes, comments, or — the ultimate sign of a successful meme — sharing with friends. With any luck, those friends will also share with their like-minded friends who will also share with friends, and so on. From a marketing perspective, that sort of viral exposure is hard to beat in terms of reach.  
  • Memes humanize brands and build trust. Anyone who has ever been online will recognize the classic meme format of large block text over an image. Meme videos command our attention on the page because, unlike pop-ups or banners, you know there’s the potential payoff of a laugh. When you share your brand’s unique take on a viral meme or a pop culture moment, you’re letting your audience know that you’re experiencing the world right along with them. If you happen to relay something about your brand organically — even if it’s just a reminder that you exist — that’s great too.
  • Memes are cheap and easy to make. If you’re eager to create a meme video, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Memes are, by definition, existing ideas that are reproduced, usually with some slight variation. Take an already popular meme and change it to suit your marketing message (this is known as memejacking). Memes require very little time to throw together. Best of all, the process is inexpensive compared to what it costs to execute a fully-developed marketing campaign.

What you need to make your own video meme

A poorly thought-out meme might be cringeworthy at best and become a meme unto itself at worst. Here’s how to think through your video meme to create one that stands out.

  • Cohesive brand voice. Staying consistent with your brand voice can be challenging if you’ve historically avoided going for laughs. Memes allow you to wield wit and authenticity in ways that still resonate with your audience. As you would in any form of communication, the key is to consider your audience's wants, needs, and habits. It’s okay to tweak the tone of your meme to match a new channel or format so long as you remain true to your overall brand voice and steer clear of pandering. To put it in meme terms, you want to avoid crossing into "how do you do, fellow kids?" territory.  
  • A little inspiration. Don’t feel lost if you begin your meme project with no idea of what you want to make or even how you want it to look. Do a little poking around online and visit your favorite meme accounts for a look at the latest memes worthy of memejacking.
  • Great timing. Like any trending piece of media, funny meme formats have short-lived cycles of popularity. You’ll want to jump on a video meme format before its popularity crests in order to have the most impact. Audiences may be less interested in a meme that’s already been circulating for weeks and no longer feels fresh.
  • Comedic sensibilities. You don’t necessarily need to aim for a full-on belly laugh, but you at least want to land somewhere between dry wit and laugh-out-loud funny. Again, this relies on how well you know your audience. What types of memes do they share and like? What makes them laugh? How do they communicate with each other when they joke around? Let your audience guide you.  
  • Your own personal touch. When working with tried and true video meme formats, you can add something that’s unique to your brand to make the meme stand out as yours. Here, subtlety goes a long way. It could be as simple as incorporating existing visual elements from your brand such as your go-to font, brand colors, or a thoughtfully placed watermark.
  • Format consistency. While you do want to add your brand’s unique personal touch to your video meme, you don’t want to do it at the expense of the meme’s format. If you alter the original structure of the meme or fundamentally change its format, you risk making it unfunny or even unintelligible to a meme-savvy crowd.

Where to make your meme video

Once you have an idea of what you want to say in your meme video, it’s time to make it. The platform you use to create your video meme can influence your direction based on its available meme templates, gifs, video capabilities, and other factors. These are a few of the best meme makers out there:

  • Mematic. Available for both Android and iOS, Mematic comes with an endless library of photos and video clips plus meme template options. Though the app is free, users will have to endure the occasional pop-up ad or shell out $3 per month for the paid version. Paid users get access to more customization options such as special backgrounds, templates, and graphics. Its ease of use makes it one of the more popular meme apps on Apple’s app store, with a 4.7-star rating and 141,000 user reviews.
  • Kapwing. Web-based Kapwing comes with all the bells and whistles you need to produce high-quality, customizable memes, especially if you’re willing to splurge on the pro version for $17 a month. Free users can still create watermark-free projects by simply creating a Kapwing account and signing in. If you feel overwhelmed by the options, you can always stick with Kapwing’s range of straightforward meme templates. After all, an effective meme doesn’t need much window dressing.
  • Descript. Producing memes from your own videos may sometimes call for some major editing to get exactly the footage and audio you want to feature. That type of surgical precision is beyond the capabilities of most basic meme tools out there. Descript allows for more elegant edits, including cropping, splitting, transitions, audio effects, and text overlays. You could easily recreate a video meme template or come up with your own.

Make the most of your video memes

After you’ve created your meme, it’s time to release it into the wild. There are a couple of ways to do this, but social media is the place to start. Video memes generally see the bulk of their success on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, where you can easily share them with friends. Other social platforms may also make for a good fit for your video meme, depending on its tone and ideal audience, but remember that not all platforms will support GIFs or videos. You can also share your video meme with your audience by popping it into your brand’s email campaigns, blog posts, and landing pages.

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