Meme: A meme can refer to any form of a self-spreading, viral idea that reaches a mass audience. These memes can take form as either "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation," according to Richard Dawkins.
But what is a meme -- really? Memes are often intended to be humorous in nature. They can be images, videos, quotes, hashtags or concepts that spread from person to person through imitation or mimicry with slight variations.
Internet memes also have a profound impact on media and culture -- and, because they all basically originate from the web, are all traceable and able to be analyzed.
The Internet meme originally began appearing in a more grassroots way, spreading through message boards and social media. However, as memes have shown their ability to gain ubiquity, increasing numbers of marketers and advertisers have turned to the meme as a way to generate attention for the things they advertise in a seemingly organic way.
One example? The 2006 movie "Snakes on a Plane." While the movie itself was forgettable, the weeks leading up to the film's release saw a prolification of the film's NSFW catchprase across the Internet, which in turn brought mass attention to a movie that would have otherwise been ignored by critics.