Real estate agents may have been late to the “Harlem Shake” party, and one broker found himself in hot water after employing the “Hitler meme” to ridicule a competitor. But 2013 was the year that Internet memes became further entrenched in popular culture, Pando Daily reports.

The “Harlem Shake” found a place on top meme lists compiled by Wired, Time and Know Your Meme. Realtors jumped on that bandwagon in a big way (see videos below).

online poll by Opinion Stage

Memes — ideas and concepts that often spread virally because they are compelling or humorous — resonate strongly with millennials, rookie real estate agent William Ritter told Inman News in May.


In a “#madREskillz” article, Ritter shared his strategy for cultivating clients on social media channels like Twitter with Inman News reporter Teke Wiggin. Ritter designs images like the one above in just seconds using the site Meme Generator.

In a follow-up post on memes in July, “Coin your own real estate lingo for fun and profit,” Wiggin explored techniques for unearthing and creating real estate memes, citing examples found on the Sacramento Appraisal Blog and SoCalLife Team’s Pinterest board.

While brokers and agents who create their own real estate memes may be seen as on the cutting edge, trying to surf a meme that’s already crested could backfire.

Pando Daily puts it in somewhat academic terms: “Decontextualising the ‘foreign’ and appropriating the ‘novel’ can mean homogenisation and hegemony. The lingua franca can assimilate at the cost of diverse voice, undermining one of participatory media’s greatest promises.”

Once real estate agents started doing the “Harlem Shake,” the real estate blog Estately suggested that they and other latecomers were to blame for killing the fad.

If those who jump on an old meme risk looking like followers rather than leaders, are memes themselves a passing fad? Inman News Gahlord Dewald kicked off 2013 with some insight that suggests not:

“The important thing to remember … is that memetic culture — the simple ideas we create and share, and the mechanism by which we share them — isn’t exactly new. This sort of thing has been going on since well before the first knock-knock joke,” Dewald wrote. “What does change with digital technology is how we create, how we distribute and to some extent who we distribute to.”

At Real Estate Connect San Francisco in July, Ben Huh — founder and CEO of Cheezburger Network, the company credited with bringing Internet culture and memes to the mainstream — provided insights on how businesses can profit from the trend.

Ben Huh on “Why laughter can be business’s best medicine” (2:56).

“Harlem Shake” video posted by Whitney Pannell of Prudential A.S. de Movellan Real Estate.

“Harlem Shake” video by Adam Helton of The Deselms Team.

Agents with Re/Max Essential in Wilmington, N.C., show how they roll.

The crew at Dallas-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate David Winans & Associates gets in on the fun.

The Anderson Real Estate Group’s Long Beach, Calif., office goes crazy.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription