You just can't go anywhere online without running into the latest memes that are showcasing a politician, actor or adorable cat. And, though no one really expected it, memes are now big business. Whether it is creating software to make them easier to create and spread or building a platform where they can be posted, discovered and shared.
The latest company to throw its hat into the meme ring is Google+.
The quickly growing social network created by the search engine giant announced on Tuesday that it added features to the photo sharing aspect of the site that makes making and sharing memes undeniably quick and easy.
Also as an addition and extension of this feature, Google+ has also activated a hashtag auto-suggestion tool that allows people to label and quickly find related trends on the site.
Memes have been raising some funding lately. Last week, BuzzFeed Media announced that it has received a $15.5 million funding from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Lerer Ventures, Hearst Media, Softbank and RRE Ventures.
Traffic for the buzzy meme aggregator BuzzLink tripled in 2011, bringing in over 25 million unique monthly hits. The current editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, joined BuzzFeed last December to expand the site into the realm of more original content -- especially in the realm of politics.
Based in New York and founded in 2008, BuzzFeed has raised $27 million, to date.
And last month, the meme software that was bought by Evernote finally was re-released on iOS products.
The photo application for iOS products was, at one point, $19.99 and a best-selling app in the Mac App Store -- this product is called Skitch. Then in August, Evernote picked up the company for an undisclosed amount and rolled out the new iPad version Thursday -- for free.
Skitch's services allow you to grab screenshots, crop, resize and add sketches or notes to your images (think about how easy you can make your memes now.)
One great ability that I use is a function that lets you screen grab websites that stretch past the view on your computer’s screen.
Since Evernote bought the editing service, it has removed all fees connected to it and added an Android application.
The Android version offers many of the same features as the desktop app, although optimized for mobile.
How do these Google+ tools work
If you have a photo that is just screaming out to be meme-ified, all you have to do is drag the photo into the share box on your Google+
To try it out, drop a photo into the sharebox on Google+ and then click the "Add text" button underneath the photo. Type in something funny, then share with your circles or the public.
Tying in with these hashtags is the new ability for Google+ users to auto-search and organize based on the Twitter-staple: hashtags.
Google+ sees this system of hashtags as an easy way to categorize photos, video and written content, as well as a way to discover what others are writing on a particular topic.
As of Tuesday, when a user starts typing a hashtag in a post or comment, Google+ will present a list of hashtags you might be looking for.
Google+'s bursting toolbox
While Google+ is still struggling to finds its niche, it has amassed more than 62 million users in just a few months and has been adding new tools and features every few days.
Between the new search capabilities that the network has folded into its parent search engine and the capabilities of broadcasting and hosting multiple-person video conferencing, Google+ looks like it can out innovate Facebook, but has yet to translate that into revenue.
While Facebook gears up for its spring IPO, Google+ is showing that there is room for competition, especially in an environment where many are getting fatigued by the new advertisements and over-sharing that Facebook is leaning on in order to turn an impressive profit.
What will be interesting is if Google+ can convert enough people with its great tools and features without eventually going down the same advertising and virtual good path that Facebook has taken over the last two years.