How memes come to life

Memes might seem like they emerge “naturally,” circulated by like-minded social media users and independently generating momentum. But successful memes often don’t happen by accident.

Meme factories are a coordinated network of creators or accounts who produce and host memes.

They can take the form of a single creator managing a network of accounts and platforms, or creators who collaborate informally in hobby groups, or groups working as a commercial business.

These factories will use strategic calculations to “go viral,” and at times seek to maximise commercial potential for sponsors.

Through this, they can have a huge influence in shaping social media. And – using the language of internet visual pop culture – meme factories can shift public opinion.

Memes can be orchestrated by savvy meme factories who operate behind the scenes; or by ordinary people engaging in democratic citizen feedback.


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