With emotions high and voters struggling with feelings about Britain’s vote to leave the EU, many opted to express their feelings by sharing Brexit memes rather than words. In fact, Hitwise data show that online searches for “gif,” “image” or “meme” were up a relative 19% on Friday the 24th, the day the Referendum vote results were announced, compared to the Friday prior. And more than half of the top searches were focused on the referendum.
The most common referendum-related Brexit memes search in this category on Friday was “Boris Johnson meme” followed by “Nigel Farage meme.” In fact, “Farage” and “Boris” were each the subject of roughly one in every 85 image-related searches on Friday. David Cameron, meanwhile, was the subject of just one in every 145 image searches.
The specific image searches that were trending on Friday provide insight into how this audience felt about the Referendum results. For instance, searches for “grumpy cat meme” were up +51% week-on-week and “why meme” searches were up 27%.
Britons were also getting creative and making their own Brexit memes in the wake of the vote with searches for “meme generator” more than triple what we observed the week prior and “meme maker” more than double.
Communication of this sort via image is most common among young Brits with more than half (55%) of those searching for “image,” “meme” or “gif” online in the aftermath of the vote being ages 18 to 34. Since those in this age group account for just a third of the online population, it means they are 1.7 times more likely than average to conduct such searches. Brands seeking to connect with this group of Digital Natives should be considering images such as memes and animated gifs as a communication channel. Doing so may provide those brands with increased engagement and relevance among this generation who came of age with the internet.
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