In case you haven’t heard, it’s #LEOSZN, which means that it’s time for our fire sign friends and enemies to thrive. Also, Mercury is no longer in retrograde so you can finally start taking responsibility for all the laundry you keep accidentally discolouring and the 3PM martinis you’ve been sneaking. For a lot of people who do not answer to a higher power, it is hard to make sense of the world and things that happen beyond our control. Here is where astrology comes in. Attributing meaning to various portions of the natal chart gives our lives a semblance of structure. It offers explanations for why we are ‘crying at the club rn’ (@kalesalad reference), why our job search is unyielding, why we can’t get a date to the prom, or why we never win the lottery. It’s because your Sun is in Pisces, Brenda.
If it can do all these things, can it also tell us what to buy and who to follow on Instagram?
Astrology memes have become immensely popular on Instagram recently, overtaking a number of the OG meme accounts in terms of performance. A lot of them have grown rapidly, more than doubling in audience in the last two years.
While the concept of astrology itself has been around for a long time and was immensely popular in the 60s, millennials have combined the phenomenon with memes and taken it to a whole new level, making ‘astrology memes’ one of the biggest things to happen to Internet culture.
Here are 4 examples of how astrology meme accounts mimic the behaviour of Instagram Influencers.
1 – Smaller Audience, Higher Engagement Rate
The numbers just don’t lie. I compared 8 popular astrology accounts to 4 popular mainstream meme accounts to get a better idea of their performance. When looking for influencers to work with, brands often look at the number of followers and engagement rate, where the latter is a better indicator of performance.
Despite the fact that @fcknaries only has 21.5K followers, they benefit from an engagement rate of 44.92%, in comparison to @9gag which only averages a 1.44% engagement rate. Oftentimes, the larger an account’s following is, the lower their engagement rate because of the sheer inability to aggregate sufficient likes and comments as a ratio of the total following.
2 – Carving a Niche
Unlike regular meme accounts, all astrology meme accounts deal with a single topic: astrology. Rather than compile and repost content from just about everywhere, their posts are more curated and they straddle a fine line between being a vertical account and one that posts original content.
For example, the top performing post on @zodiacboyfriend is a PowerPuff Girl original meme with an astrology twist.
Using popular TV shows or characters (there was a KimYe meme in the Top 5 posts) to providing original readings of the signs has allowed these accounts to ensure that they have a niche and that their audiences fully appreciate their content.
On @bitch.rising, their niche is further exemplified by the use of a specific meme format/aesthetic:
It is the ‘screengrab followed by fictional and overtly dramatised scripted dialogue that is somehow so relatable’ manner of presenting information, so it is no wonder that this account is performing at an 8.7% engagement rate — still significantly higher than mainstream meme accounts.
3 – The Element of Relatability
The biggest pull on any Instagram account — be they verticals, influencer profiles, brand accounts etc., is relatability. We want to be able to see ourselves in the posts we scroll through on social media. Influencers understand that to gain a loyal and interested following, they need to stay rooted and relatable. But what better way to do this than to create content based on natal charts?
This meme, also by @zodiacboyfriend, is an excellent example of how and why astrology meme accounts perform so well. Using Lady Gaga’s 4 MET Gala looks in various stages of undress to characterise the star signs is by far one of the most up-to-date pop culture references that a meme account can make.
@spicygeminimemes chooses to use Queer Eye instead, and it is precisely the ability spin a narrative about each sign and their interactions from a single image that makes these accounts so impressive and relatable.
4 – Self-Promotion is the Best Promotion
A lot of these astrology meme accounts are ironic/satirical, which allows them to self-plug their videos & other work while passing it off as part of the act. This generates a feedback loop and ensures that reposted content always leads back to the creator’s account.
Whether it is a link to Twitter, YouTube, or Etsy, these accounts have their bases covered, which is one of the most important things for an influencer to do as well.
How has this worked for brands?
So far, we have not seen any collaborations between brands and astrology meme accounts, possibly because they are ‘faceless’ and do not front a single personality. In my opinion this is a huge opportunity missed, because of how precise these accounts are at capturing the long-term attention of their followers and effectively influencing them to behave in certain ways. What brands have done, however, is use the concept of astrology in mainstream marketing. This is especially so for beauty brands.
This post by @colourpopcosmetics is their top performing post this month, with people eager to find out which palette they should purchase based on their star signs.
This is an amazing incentive to buy a palette as well as a helpful decision-making tool, which further drives impulse buying. For all the affinity that people feel towards their star signs and how it impacts character/behaviour, using it as a marketing tool is very clever.
@fentybeauty did something similar for #NationalLipstickDay:
And the comments show us just how much people appreciate and/or desire the combination of astrology and material goods.
Fenty Beauty and ColourPop are not the first nor are they be the only makeup brands to ride on this trend of millennial appreciation for astrology to sell their products. And so we return to my question: if astrology as an idea (reflected by the two brand case studies) and as a meme account (reflected in my analysis) is so powerful, why hasn’t it been integrated into influencer marketing yet?
If astrology can collaborate with memes, astrology meme accounts can collaborate with brands. Maybe yours should be the first to try it.