From funny photos of dogs to celebrities and cartoons, memes have become an integral part of internet culture. And just like anything else which predominantly lives on the internet, cryptocurrencies were also prone to succumb to the trends.
This article dives into the psychology behind investing in meme coins and why people love them so much.
The Rise of Meme Coins
The number one reason as to why meme coins have gained popularity is due to their humorous streak related to a certain internet meme. The first-ever meme coin, dogecoin (DOGE), was created in 2013 as a parody of the cryptocurrency phenomenon and ironically took off.
Since then, they have been popping up left and right with some of the biggest being DOGE, pepe (PEPE), a coin inspired by the Pepe the Frog meme and shiba inu (SHIB) another meme coin inspired by the popular Shiba Inu dog meme.
Meme coins are designed to go viral and are often heavily promoted on social media platforms, creating hype around a new project. Author of NFT: From Zero to Hero, Anndy Lian, explained that meme coins often gain momentum when members of the community buy into the newest token created “in order to be in on the joke”.
“Once it gets popular and spikes in value, retail investors sometimes jump on board and further boost the coin. Additionally, meme coins are mainly community-driven and can gain popularity overnight due to online community endorsements and FOMO [fear of missing out].”
Psychologists agree, saying that one of the biggest reasons as to why people tend to invest in meme coins seems to be FOMO.
“Memecoins frequently create a sense of urgency and excitement, causing apprehension about missing out on possible profits. People may be compelled to invest because they are afraid of being left out,” Dr Ketan Parmar a psychiatrist and mental health expert told Technopedia.
Licensed counsellor and therapist Marissa Moore added that the popularity of meme coins can also be linked to social proof, or people being influenced by the actions of others, their association with a sense of fun or excitement as well as the sense of community which fosters a supportive environment for many investors.
Meme Coins and Internet Culture
David Kemmerer, the CEO and co-founder of CoinLedger said that one of the key driving points in the success or failure of a meme coin is internet culture. He added that because memes are community-driven and are heavily dependent on market sentiment they continue to drive the hype surrounding meme tokens as well.
Lian added that online platforms in the likes of Discord, Reddit, Twitter, and TikTok serve as catalysts for their viral marketing campaigns and allow meme coins to connect with a diverse range of users. In addition, humor and meme culture, two great catalysts in the success of the said cryptocurrencies, can also have a number of effects on investor behavior.
Dr Parmar noted that humor can foster innovation and novelty in the crypto space, while also reducing risk and seriousness of investing in an asset as volatile and speculative as meme cryptocurrencies.
Moore added that viral marketing and emotional connection associated with meme cryptocurrencies can also influence investor behavior.
Emotional Investing and Meme Coins
Although, with assets that are as dependent on emotions as meme cryptocurrencies, emotional investing could be a key influence in meme cryptocurrency culture.
Emotional investing is the process of making financial decisions based on one’s emotions rather than rational analysis. Dr Parmar explained that emotional investing could include heightened risk-taking, it could affect decision-making as well as amplify or dampen an investor’s confidence and motivation.
“Emotions can cloud judgment and lead to impulsive decisions, such as buying or selling meme coins without considering the underlying fundamentals or risks. [It] can lead to significant gains but also exposes investors to greater losses when sentiment shifts.”
Bandwagon and Herd Mentality
Investors who tend to invest in more “traditional” cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin (BTC) are doing so to make a profit, however, when a person chooses to invest in a meme token, they could be mostly motivated by jumping on to the “bandwagon” and hype surrounding a certain asset. This makes meme coin investors higher risk-takers, while traditional crypto investors are a little more risk-averse, Kemmerer explained.
“People may invest in meme coins because they see others doing so, or because they want to fit in or avoid being left behind… Such cognitive biases can affect how people perceive and evaluate meme coins and influence their investment behavior,” Dr Parmar said.
Moore added that when investors see others profiting from meme cryptocurrencies, they may feel compelled to join “the herd, leading to increased demand and potentially inflating prices.”
The Bottom Line
Kemmerer explained that most meme coin investors tend to be very cautious when it comes to investing in the cryptocurrencies. This is due to the tokens being more of an entertainment and depending on the narrative and the community standing behind them.
“Meme coins are heavily community-driven tokens. Since they do not have any fundamental economic or business use case, their prices are usually influenced by social media and online sentiment. This often brings a lot of hype, but also FOMO and financial risk. Memes 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. Due to the hype around meme culture, many investors are turning to digital assets in hopes of striking it rich.”
While the psychology behind why so many people chose to invest in meme cryptocurrencies is fascinating, investors should remember that these assets are highly volatile and never invest money, they can not afford to lose.
Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.
Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.
An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.