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15 Recent and Popular Social Media Memes

Meme hard! Meme often! Use this list of recent popular social media memes to inspire your content calendar this week.

Stacey McLachlan January 23, 2024
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Whether you’re “extremely online” or just a weekend Instagram warrior, you’ve definitely encountered a meme at some point in your social media life. A sad dog with a hilarious caption; a panel from Spiderman with some perfectly stupid new labels; an overlay of a dancing Bill Hader interrupting a TikTok video.

The more time you spend online, the more familiar you’ll get with popular or recurring social media memes. You might even start to see mash-ups of well-known memes (and that’s probably when you should put down your phone and go outside for a bit).

If you’ve never dabbled in the fine art of meme-ery, maybe now’s the time to consider it. Memes can really help fill your social media content calendar and are pretty much guaranteed to delight your audience. And with fresh memes going viral daily, you’ll never run out of inspiration.

Obviously, memes aren’t appropriate for every type of account. If you run a funeral home, for example, maybe this isn’t the blog post for you.

But for brands that want to come across as playful, personable, and authentic, read on for more meme intel and dozens of viral examples to get the creative juices flowing.

Bonus: Download our free, customizable social media calendar template to easily plan and schedule all your content in advance.

What is a meme on social media?

A social media meme is “a joke or comment made for sharing on social networks. It usually appears in the form of a graphic or GIF with text above the image or superimposed.”

Another way of looking at it: memes are visual or textual media (or, on TikTok or Reels, audio clips!) that have been manipulated by an internet user for the purpose of self-expression.

Often, memes are created from images, video, or audio that existed for another purpose. A screenshot from a movie, a clip from a news broadcast gone wrong, an image from a comic strip that’s used to express a reaction to a current event. Memes can also be text-based though, taking a phrase (like a great line in Succession or a mispronunciation by the Pope) and putting it into all sorts of new contexts.

Memes spread across social media networks, with users taking a format and putting their own spin on it. There are dozens of websites and apps out there that can help you generate your own meme in just a few seconds.

And memes are popular: memes are the second most common type of content for Millennial and Gen Z users to share. Some social media accounts are even exclusively devoted to sharing memes — either re-posting other people’s meme creations or producing their own riffs on popular memes.

They’re so easy to make (even if you aren’t a pro at creating social media visuals), and are basically joke machines: just take the existing template, and put a spin on it that will crack up your specific audience.

That being said, memes can also be used for not-so-funny purposes, too. As the BBC put it, “memes can have a serious side, according to researchers looking at modern forms of communication. They are a language in themselves, with a capacity to transcend cultures and construct collective identities between people. These sharable visual jokes can also be powerful tools for self-expression, connection, social influence, and even political subversion.”

What is meme short for?

“Meme” comes from the Greek word mimema, which means “imitated.” Pretty high-brow heritage for a bunch of goofy internet jokes, right?

British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term in 1976 as a way to describe replicating and mutating cultural ideas. In his work, cultural memes are parallel to biological genes, which also carry information and have the ability to evolve.

“Memes,” in Dawkins’ original definition, could be applied to ideas, skills, fashions, or phrases, and transmitted through communication and culture — conversations, TV broadcasts, emails, you get the gist. Religious or political ideas, for example, are considered memes in his work.

But internet culture has really claimed the word for user-made and distributed media. Today, if someone refers to a meme outside of an extreme academic context, you can be sure they’re talking about a LOLcat.

Viral memes on social media in 2023

While most memes have a pretty short life cycle, there are plenty of memes that have stood the test of time (we’re looking at you, Confused Math Woman). Maybe these 2023 all-star memes will turn out to offer lifelong laughs? Either way, if they spark some inspiration in you — to either share them or make ‘em your own — follow that instinct. Meme hard! Meme often!

Kevin James Smirking

This Getty Images photo of Kevin James sheepishly smiling with his hands in his pockets makes the perfect blank canvas for adding a sassy caption.

Kevin James smirking with hands in his pocket memeSource: Know Your Meme

“Girl Math”

A joke (told by women, for women) about justifying costs. If your audience primarily identifies as women, go on and have a laugh about how the “cost per wear” of an outfit makes a fashion splurge seem like a totally reasonable idea.


#itsbasicallyfree but it’s also basically a secondary income 💁‍♀️ Let us know if you need us to #girlmath one of your purchases! 🤪

♬ original sound – FVHZM

Celebrity Relationships

During the writing of this story, we saw the rise and fall of Kylie Jenner and Timothee Chalamet, so we’re not getting too attached to the Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce relationship. But the “it” couple of the moment provides a great opportunity for meme-able paparazzi photos. Young love brings plenty of dramatic facial expressions, it seems.


If Taylor likes football we ALL like football 😤 #taylorswift #traviskelce #taylorswifttraviskelce #memes

♬ Red – (Taylor’s version)

…or hilarious contrasts, as in the case of Justin and Hailey Bieber.

Barbie vs. Oppenheimer

The launch date of two diametrically opposite movies provided a lot of fun for the internet. Obviously, the trend has died down now, but take it as inspiration anyways. What kind of hilariously contrasting pop culture moments are happening right now that you can pit against each other in a meme?
Oppenheimer Barbie movie release opposite style of houses next door

Crunchy Cat

Though this green screen effect cat (eating something very loud and unidentifiable) was first uploaded to TikTok in 2022, it really popped off in 2023 as a hilarious accent to pretty much any situation.


nam nam nam 😋😋😋 #paris #bones #cat #crunchy #crunchitymunchity

♬ original sound – GOOSE

Animals. Always

When will funny animals ever go out of style for memes? Relabel this chill chicken, or any other animal, with your own context.

Our fave? These fuzzy besties:

Astrological Signs

No one can resist an astrology meme. It’s… in the stars.

Which Are You?

Encourage your followers to tag themselves (as you simultaneously totally roast them).

Dancing Bill Hader

This clip from an old SNL sketch just brings the feel-good vibes. Layer it on top of a big product announcement you’re feeling smug about, why dontcha?

Kardashian Pregnancy Announcement

Back in the summer, Kourtney Kardashian made a dramatic pregnancy announcement using a sign at a concert… which naturally turned into a blank canvas for meme creators around the world. Look for future celebrity milestones like this to transform into your own memes.

Renaissance Paintings

It’s instant comedy: contrast an image from a Renaissance painting with a modern problem, and you’ve struck gold.

Roman Empire

Though this social media meme started with creators asking the men in their lives just how often they think about the Roman Empire (spoiler: a lot?), it’s now a fun thing to post about what your Roman Empire is: the thing you can’t stop thinking about.


asking my dad how often he thinks about the Roman Empire #romanempire #romanempireboyfriend

♬ original sound – liv baron

Smurf Cat

Why is this photo-realistic Smurf Cat trending? We couldn’t say. But the people have spoken, repurposing this cutesy character in all sorts of contexts.


WE LIVE WE LOVE WE LIE🗣️🔥#catsmurf #smurfcat #thespectere #edit #vsp #youthshake #meme #fyp

♬ original sound – Crcl.𝖆𝖎𝖒

“Bad Idea, Right?”

Use this clip from Olivia Rodrigo’s latest single to underscore a hilarious mistake.


“I want curly hair” – no you don’t💀

♬ bad idea right? – Olivia Rodrigo

This Guy Reading a Book

A vintage comic strip that features a blank canvas (the book) and a dramatic reaction (the face)? You really can’t go wrong.

A Scary Halloween House

This spooky Halloween house dominated the meme cycle in October 2023. There’s still time to add your own hilarious caption! We believe in you!

Text-based posts

There’s a wide world of people sharing screenshots of text content to visual apps: Tweets that really make people laugh tend to make their way to Instagram to be repurposed and captioned.

It’s good practice to credit where you find these. Savvy brands might punch up these sort of minimalist posts with a punch of color or by using a branded background, to help them blend in with the rest of your feed.

By their nature, memes are always evolving and changing. Your best bet for keeping up with what’s going on in the world of TikTok, Instagram, Twitter/X, and Facebook is to be active on those platforms.

Explore popular content, and watch for emerging trends and patterns first-hand by getting right up into the action. (Feeling overwhelmed by the endless content? Set up specific Streams in your Hootsuite dashboard to focus your attention on the memes that matter most to your company or industry.)

Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. Publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversations, engage your audience, measure results, and more — all from one simple dashboard. Try it free today.


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By Stacey McLachlan

Stacey McLachlan is an award-winning writer and editor from Vancouver with more than a decade of experience working for print and digital publications.

She is editor-at-large for Western Living and Vancouver Magazine, author of the National Magazine Award-nominated 'City Informer' column, and a regular contributor to Dwell. Her previous work covers a wide range of topics, from SEO-focused thought-leadership to profiles of mushroom foragers, but her specialties include design, people, social media strategy, and humor.

You can usually find her at the beach, or cleaning sand out of her bag.

Read more by Stacey McLachlan

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