On-demand webinar: Generation Z and the ironic truths of meme culture

We recently ran a webinar on meme culture and how memes animated reaction GIFs are the first language of today’s teenagers. This presentation gave a whistlestop tour through contemporary social media culture; insight into the underlying seriousness behind all the jokes teens are making online – and five implications this has for how brands should communicate with younger audiences.

Pulsar Research Director Jess Owens spoke on how we have entered a post-truth, post-authenticity era, in which dichotomies like true/false or real/fake no longer serve us very well, especially on social media platforms. She explains how memes have emerged as a new way to explore and distribute nuanced, complex truths, and what this means for brands wanting to appeal to these audiences, without accidentally ending up looking like this meme

If you missed it, don’t worry. The webinar is available for you to watch on-demand below. The key takeaways for the webinar included: 

  • Understanding the language of Gen Z on social media – “On the one hand, they’re the Sensible Generation. Every measure of risk-taking behaviour is down, across the US and Europe: drinking, smoking, drug use, early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. Spurred on by the prospect of massive educational debt, they try harder in school and have heart-breakingly modest and, well, sensible aspirations for their future lives. On the other hand, they love memes”
  • The underlying meaning of memes, and their intentions from a teen perspective “That is how the meme functions, through reference to the original context and the memes that have gone before, coupled with creative remixing to speak to a particular audience or topic or moment. Each new instance of a meme is thereby automatically familiar and recognisable. The format carries a meta-message to the audience: “This is familiar, not weird.” “
  • How this affects brand communication with younger audiences

Where next?

Insights

How Stuff Spreads: “the most successful people” meme

Mutating from earnest, to ironic, to critical
Behavior

Why memes matter: our best shot to talk about the world in the post-truth era