Do Memes Get Better Instagram Engagement than Other Photos?

Dash Hudson
4 min readJan 28, 2019

[Originally published on the Dash Hudson blog.]

Ever wondered if memes receive higher Instagram engagement than all other content? This is your lucky day. ♠️

These are the days.

Memes are Instagram crowd-pleasers. They touch upon the most universal emotion: humor. We’ve seen thousands of accounts dedicated entirely to the wordy visuals sprout through the years — and it’s not rare for them to be followed by millions of users.

Their relevancy is indisputable. Memes are modern day digital satire, offering comedic commentary on the cultural zeitgeist. We know they resonate based on how much activity they generate. One glance at a meme’s comment section instantly reveals visceral reactions… And the holy grail of Insta scores — tagged friends.

People want to share the laughs because memes can be profoundly relatable. They want to have exchanges with their pals about something that rings true, for better or worse. Imagine if we could see how many times meme posts were sent via DM. No doubt we’d be floored.

A lot of brands include memes in their content mix because of how well they resonate. It’s long been speculated that memes perform better than regular images, and we wanted to get to the bottom of it once and for all. We selected five accounts in different categories, where we separated the memes from the rest of the content from the past two months into Boards to see which group garnered more engagement.

Here’s what we found.

1. @theklog

The first account we looked at is The Klog, a K beauty forward skincare guide that likes to pepper its native content feed with memes.

Here we have both Board overviews side by side. The most important lines are the bottom two: average engagement and effectiveness rates. While the regular content is performing at an already high average of 1.40%, the memes are altogether averaging at 3.47%, which is more than double. Meanwhile, the regular content effectiveness rate is an adequate 4.65% while the meme effectiveness rate is 18.31%. Whoa.

So what does that mean? The Effectiveness rate, which takes into account saves and impressions (which are likely higher from all the sends memes receive), indicates that there is a lot of unseen activity on these posts and that people are all about them.

Memes win by a landslide.

2. @netflix

Switching gears and moving along to Netflix. Again we’re looking at the last two lines, where in this case, memes are clearly not as popular as regular content.

This is likely because Netflix’s typical posts revolve around the many popular shows it produces, which garner a whole other level of fandom.

3. @forever21

Now looking at fast fashion retailer Forever21’s foray into memes, it’s obvious that the brand’s audience can’t get enough of them. The regular content averages out at 0.21% (how ironic), while memes are more than double, communally landing at 0.52%.

They should probably consider adding more to their content mix. Just a thought.

4. @chipotle

And now for Chipotle, which has been including a very healthy dose of memes in its Instagram output, likely because its followers can’t get enough of them. While the regular content averages an already very high 1.80%, the memes leave that in the dust, coming in hot at a collective 3.47%. And would you just peek at that effectiveness rate!

5. @girlboss

Last but not least, we took a look motivational account Girlboss, as its social team often includes memes within their posts.

You might have suspected by now, the memes crushed it. Collectively averaging 2.19% verus the regular content’s 1.14%, which is still pretty darn great.

Here’s the deal. Memes crush the game. They completely slay Instagram engagement. It doesn’t seem to matter what industry, the amount of posts, the meme-to-regular image ratio, people react more to visuals caricaturing societal happenings than beautifully created and curated imagery. Period.

But because every rule needs an exception, if you’re posting about celebrities or other fan-rearing occurrences, you’ll trump the meme. 🤡

Header image: @instagram

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Dash Hudson

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