TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 27, 2021

We Spoke to Two People Who Run a Meme Account

Whether it’s Bernie’s mittens, Oprah’s gesticulation, Jackie Weaver’s iron fist or the Duke’s spoon, memays make the internet a better place.

We owe a lot to memes. They fuel our friendships, keep our group chats glowing, make meeting strangers infinitely less awkward and pick us up when we’re feeling down.

Whether it’s Bernie’s mittens, Oprah’s gesticulation, Jackie Weaver’s iron fist or the Duke’s spoon, memays make the internet a better place.

Here, we chat to the people behind social media and meme sensation accounts to find out what it really takes to be a professional meme-maker. From writing witty captions and working with brands, to growing a community and turning their mad memery skills into a bonafide business…

Hunsnet – Gareth Howells

How long has your meme account been going?

I started the account in the summer of 2017

Why did you decide to start a meme account?

I’ve always been a bit of a joker with a very dry sense of humour. I also love 00’s nostalgia and pop culture and I started the account to make me and my friends live love & laugh.

What was the first ‘viral’ post?

I made a meme featuring Teresa May crossed with Adele – “We could have had all…. Rolling in the Wheat!”

What’s the process of making a meme?

For the memes that I make they are either based on situations that happen to us all, often situations that we think have only ever happened to us or reactions to the fast-moving news landscape… For example, I recently made a meme about everyone’s Mum doing the Bev Callard workout DVD when they were young everyone went crazy realising that their childhoods were similar with Mum pushing back the furniture to do the workout with a couple of cans of smart price beans whilst munching on a Ryvita.

When something happens in the news that is unexpected or shocking there is a bank of reactions stored in my brain from old X Factor clips, Pops songs or iconic reality TV moments. For memes to go viral you need to be quick to market so making memes in under 3 minutes has become a new talent. There’s also the want to publish the meme first as you can guarantee other brilliant memers are thinking the same as you. I differentiate my content by using certain phrases and language so meme lovers can tell it’s a Hunsnet meme.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Deep in the vaults of 00’s British pop culture.

What makes a meme go viral?

I think it’s often a fusion of forgotten pop culture references used to perfectly articulate situations that are happening or have happened to us all. Clever wit obviously too. Knowing your audience and giving them what they want.

Why do you think memes have become so popular in recent years?

They are quick hits of fun that can make us laugh. We’ve had a crazy couple of years which when you think of it has featured some pretty hard-hitting news events. Memes of shared interests can create a community of like-minded individuals who may have felt quite isolated and alone in recent times.

How can you spot something with meme potential?

Tough question… I suppose it can be something really simple for example the Chanel the lost Parrot scenario. How that goes from a distressing situation for a lady who has lost a beloved pet to a ‘Show Me Love’ remix blows my mind. I think it’s people’s interpretations and celebrations of mundane situations along with a celebration of the ordinary fused with random references that make an excellent meme.

What does it take to make a meme account, what kind of skills do you need to turn it into a career and monetise it as a business?

For me it was recognising there is a community of people with shared interests that follow my account. I started with novelty merchandise then realised that my followers were super loyal and as a result, what would it be like if we brought them all together in a shared space. That’s where the live events side of the business flourished with our hugely popular Hun Brunch events.

What’s the secret to creating a cult brand and growing a community?

Engage with your audience. Chat with them in the comments. Share their content that they take the time to submit. Bring them together in real life, give them an amazing experience. Allow everyone to be a bit silly, whether that’s in the comments or at the events. We could all use a little bit of silliness in our lives.

Top tips for witty caption writing…

For me, it’s about people knowing that it’s a hunsnet meme. I use language that is often spelt how we say it which people seem to find funny. Short, snappy and don’t go round the houses.

What makes a person meme-worthy, obviously the GC is the meme Queen but is there certain people or characters who you just know are going to provide endless material?

People who do ordinary things but make them iconic. Ruth Langsford is a perfect example of this. My followers are so invested in her fashion range, her running diary and her antics on daytime TV. She comes out with some cracking oneliners that can be used in lots of different reaction memes.

What’s been the highlight of your career as a professional meme-maker, so far?

OMG! Hands down featuring on Ruth Langsford’s and Lisa Scott-Lee’s Instagram grids celebrating the work that I do. Also the first-ever event we did where I was worried that people wouldn’t turn up and then everyone had an absolute blast!

Your all-time favourite meme…

Anything that features the 2 Scottish Girls… Cher Lloyd by Cher Lloyd

If you were a meme, what would you be?

Lindsay Lohan living her best life showing us this is how you throw a party in Mykonos!

Follow @Hunsnet on Instagram!

Work in social they said – Anonymous

How long has your meme account been going?

I set the account up in December 2020, so just coming up to 8 months! 

Why did you decide to start a meme account?

I made the account just after the announcement came out that Christmas was cancelled in the UK. I was looking for a way to distract myself from everything else that was going on, and setting up the account seemed like a fun way to do that. 

I’d also seen loads of accounts set up to document the realities of different professions, and noticed that the social media managers hadn’t been represented. So I just decided to take up the mantle one day. The account has always been designed to be a piece of fun escapism for me. I never intended for so many other people to find it, but here we are!

What was the first ‘viral’ post?

I’m not sure I’ve had a true viral meme, but my favourite moment was when a post of mine was shared really early on. I had around 600 followers (which had taken me about a month), and overnight I woke up to around 400 new followers! The account just continued to grow quickly from that point.

What’s the process of making a meme?

It’s difficult to put a time frame on it. Some memes will take less than 30 seconds to write as I’ll see an image and instantly know how I could turn it into a meme. Other pictures and videos will sit in my photo album for weeks and weeks until I manage to find the perfect way to use them.

Overall, I start with the pictures. When I’m scrolling on any social platform, I’ll save images or videos that I think are funny or have meme potential. At the same time, as I’m going through my working week, I make little notes of situations or scenarios which I know are particular pain points for social media managers. 

Then I just try and match the situations up to the photo. It doesn’t usually take too long, but I know that the trick is always to try and make it instantly relatable. I often test the memes out on my friends and family before posting, and if they understand the meme (even though they aren’t social media managers) I know I’m on to a winner. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

My job! Every meeting, every project and every conversation has meme potential written all over it 🙈

What makes a meme go viral?

There are so many reasons that something will go viral, it’s impossible to put a formula on it. But there are a couple of things that will help:

  • Is the image current or is it a trend? Anything that feels particularly relevant will always have a better shot at going viral.
  • Is the meme instantly relatable? The more people who can see themselves in your meme, the more likely they are to share.
  • Have any particularly big accounts shared the meme? Distribution is everything! 
  • Are a lot of people talking about the topic of the meme? Again, the more relevant, the more likely people are to share.

Why do you think memes have become so popular in recent years?

I think escapism is a part of it, it’s been a weird couple of years and I think that memes have picked up a lot of popularity amongst the masses as a way to make light of and process challenging situations. 

How can you spot something with meme potential?

Does it make me laugh? Can I see a clear story within the image? Does it feel general enough that it would relate to the masses and not just me? Those are all things I look out for when I’m thinking about memes.

What does it take to make a meme account, what kind of skills do you need to turn it into a career and monetise it as a business?

Well… I’m not sure I can give any advice on turning it in to a career as this is something I do for fun in my spare time, BUT… I think to create memes you need to be able to spot trends and conversations, and understand what it is that drives and frustrates your audience. When you understand what frustrates them and what brings them joy, you can create miniature stories (memes) to recreate those moments. 

In terms of monetisation, I think the secret is building an engaged community and ensuring that whatever monetisation routes you build, it makes sense for your audience. 

What’s the secret to creating a cult brand and growing a community?

Pick a niche and make it your own. There’s no point recreating what somebody else has already done if you want to be a cult brand as you lose that first-to-market advantage that is the hallmark of a cult brand.

When you know your niche, listen to your audience. Read your comments, read your DMs and encourage community-driven behaviour. 

What’s been the highlight of your career as a professional meme-maker, so far?

As someone running an account for social media managers, my favourite moments are when I realise that someone has accidentally followed my account from the accounts that they manage. I couldn’t possibly reveal the accounts… but I will tell you that they have included major household brands, TV shows and even politicians accidentally following the @workinsocialtheysaid account.

Your all-time favourite meme image…

Classic, timeless… it’s gotta be yellow glasses guy.

If you were a meme, what would you be?

My entire account is me in the format of memes, I’m not sure I could ever pick just one. But if I had to pick a meme that i’d like to be, it would have to be some variation on the Jackie Weaver Parish Council spectacle. I stan a true meme queen, and Jackie Weaver is a gal after my own heart.

Follow @Workinsocialtheysaid on Instagram!

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