We “Meme” Business: Exploring Malaysian Youths’ Interpretation of Internet Memes in Social Media Marketing

  • Kee-Man Chuah Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
  • Yumni Musfirah Kahar Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
  • Looi-Chin Ch’ng Universiti Teknologi MARA


Social media marketing is gaining momentum in recent years due to its ability in reaching out to the target audience in a short period of time. Many forms of social media marketing strategies have been introduced and tested and one that is widely used is Internet memes. Despite its widespread use, there is a need to know if iconicity of memes would be affected when they are used in local contexts. Iconicity refers to the match between form (images and texts) and meanings. This paper reports findings from a qualitative study that investigated the iconicity of memes used in marketing by analysing their language features in relation the feedback obtained from the target respondents namely Malaysian youths. A total of 50 respondents were involved and they were told to rate 30 memes in terms of their level of understanding and interpretation. The subsequent in-depth interviews were conducted on five respondents. The findings show that most of the memes were high in terms of iconicity and only seven of them were low. The predominant language features were also analysed and memes with low iconicity tend to use complex sentences, full of short forms and slangs as well as imperative words. The findings from this study may not be generalised but it has provided insightful outcomes for local businesses in planning their social media marketing especially those that plan to capitalise on the rising trend of Internet memes.

How to Cite
Kee-Man Chuah, Yumni Musfirah Kahar, & Looi-Chin Ch’ng. (2020). We “Meme” Business: Exploring Malaysian Youths’ Interpretation of Internet Memes in Social Media Marketing. International Journal of Business and Society, 21(2), 931-944. https://doi.org/10.33736/ijbs.3303.2020