In the past few years, meme accounts have been among the fastest growing on Instagram. Home to funny images, gifs, and short videos accompanied by culturally-relevant captions, meme accounts appeal to audiences of all types. Meme account popularity has exploded in the last couple of years. Familiar names like The Fat Jewish and Fuck Jerry are now among thousands of other memes accounts in hundreds of different categories.
In the following post, we’ll explore the factors contributing to the growth of Instagram meme accounts and get to know a of few of the platform’s most popular accounts. We’ll also examine the ways Instagram meme accounts have been successfully leveraged for influencer marketing.
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One factor contributing to the popularity of Instagram memes, and memes more generally, is their format. Compared to more traditional forms of media like news articles or YouTube videos, memes require little time and effort to consume and understand. The meme format also aligns well with the fast-paced nature of social media. A user can consume a meme in mere seconds and do so virtually anywhere he/she has access to the internet.
Memes are especially ready-made for Instagram, which is likely related to their explosive growth on the platform. Instagram users don’t spend a great deal of time viewing a single image or video but instead scroll quickly. The expediency and accessibility of memes adhere to this format. Memes tend to be incredibly topical — these bite-sized bits of content continue to feel fresh to audiences.
The majority of popular Instagram meme accounts target millennial audiences, a huge subset of the population. According to a recent study, there are 92 million Millennials living in the U.S. alone today. This enormous demographic dedicates a considerable amount of time on social media, especially Instagram.
Here’s a breakdown of Instagram usage by cohort:
As such, meme accounts are positioned to succeed on Instagram because they target Millennials on the platform they use most frequently.
Unlike other social media influencers that create content around specific niches like beauty, family, or sports, Instagram meme accounts also tend to operate on a broader scale. In this sense, they function more like celebrity influencers in that they appeal to a broad spectrum of millennial users instead of one type of millennial. To do so, Instagram meme channels frequently share content focused on shared millennial experiences like widely popular TV shows that Millennials grew up watching.
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Perhaps because they’re frequently created on the basis of universally shared experiences, like waiting for your crush to text back, memes incite sharing. Meme accounts generate content full of humor and nostalgia – two entities that bond people together. Frequently, Instagram users will tag friends in the comment section or share posts through Instagram direct messaging. Sending a relevant post to a friend is a way to nod at your shared sense of humor or an event you experienced together. Top memes are so incredibly on point that they can almost seem to mirror an inside joke. This sharability increases the discoverability of Instagram meme accounts and in turn, boosts the rate at which they grow.
Individual memes tend to be iterative and encourage interaction – for example, a single photo will be shared across social channels with a range of different captions. Certain memes become so popular that they reach near-ubiquity. Especially viral memes will spawn meta “memes-within-memes,” evolving as they spread and inspiring parody. Meme culture has fostered its own distinct language, making top meme accounts all the more immersive to followers.
Although mass appeal is a major factor in the growth of meme accounts, category specific meme accounts are also immensely popular. Themed meme accounts toe that fine-line between being particularly relatable to a specific group of people, but universal enough to attract a large following.
Geographically inclined meme accounts share content relevant to those in a certain region. @OverheardLA is one of the most notorious, posting eavesdropped quotes from the citizens of Los Angeles which parody SoCal stereotypes like doing yoga and drinking kombucha.
1. @fuckjerry — 13.6 million followers
The @fuckjerry meme account is one of the most popular on all of Instagram and was created by Elliot Tebele in 2012. The account is known for its distinctly millennial humor and references public figures familiar to Generation Y audiences like Ariana Grande or Nicolas Cage. Popular millennial TV shows like The Office are also frequently featured in its memes.
Impressively, Tebele has started numerous other viral Instagram accounts including @beigecardigan (a collaboration with his wife Jessica Tebele), @kanyedoingthings, and @pizza. He has since grown his popular accounts into a lucrative business called Jerry Media, creates sponsored content in partnership with brands.
2. @daquan — 11.1 million followers
Canadian Daquan Gesese started his meme account @daquan for fun in 2014. In the time since he has amassed an astonishing 11.1 million followers. Similar to @fuckjerry, his account caters to millennial audiences by referencing public figures, shows, movies, and even foods Millennials grew up with.
3. @betches — 6.2 million followers
The popular @betches meme account was created by Cornell classmates and childhood friends Jordana Abraham, Samantha Fishbein, and Aleen Kuperman. The viral account targets millennial females exclusively through pop culture references and commentary on uniquely female challenges.
4. @mytherapistsays — 2.7 million followers
The massively popular @mytherapistsays meme account was created by childhood friends Lola Tash and Nicole Argiris in 2015. The account’s success has resulted in numerous brand partnerships, a book, and a clothing line. In an exclusive interview with Mediakix, the pair credited the account’s rapid growth to their focus on creating authentic and funny content.
5. @tanksinatra — 1.6 million followers
George Resch launched the @tanksinatra meme account in 2011. The meme curator and creator publishes memes of all types and regularly highlights current cultural events like the Olympics or NBA finals.
Instagram meme accounts have become an increasingly popular option for brands when it comes to influencer partnerships. Compared to the niche audiences of other influencers, meme accounts appeal to large diverse audiences. This allows brands to raise brand awareness among large and simultaneously diverse subsets of consumers.
Additionally, sponsored content with more traditional influencers has become a mainstay of Instagram. Partnerships with meme accounts, on the other hand, offer a fresh new take and allows brands to ingratiate themselves to audiences in a humorous context.
The online dating app Tinder is one brand that has partnered with Instagram meme accounts. Recently, the brand collaborated with a roster of six macro Instagram meme accounts to advertise its online dating community. The influencers involved included @bitc.h and @mytherapistsays, each of which published original memes showcasing Tinder. Unsurprisingly, the campaign was incredibly successful and garnered over 1 million likes, 21,000 comments, and an average engagement rate of 2.6%.