If you are a social media aficionado like me, chances are you have met ‘The most interesting man in the world’, ‘One does not simply’, ‘First World Problems’, ‘Futurama Fry’, ‘Y u no’, ‘Bad Luck Brian’, ‘Doge’, ‘Grumpy Cat’, ‘LOLcats’, and ‘Condescending Wonka’.
Even if you say you don’t, just fire up Facebook or Instagram on your mobile right now and scroll through your feed; It’s only a matter of seconds before you encounter a meme. Memes have become extremely popular on social media because of their ease of sharing — and this can lead to memes snowballing and spreading like wildfire throughout the web.
This hasn’t escaped the notice of brands and marketers, who have started to incorporate them more and more in campaigns and advertisements, due to the engagement they generate. One other reason for their popularity is that they bridge the gap between your target consumer and your brand.
Let’s look at it from the perspective of America’s favorite condiment: Ketchup. We all have our pantries stocked up with ketchup. We imagine our fries and hamburgers without ketchup, but how likely are you to share, like, or comment on a social media post that featured a bottle of ketchup touting to save you 50 cents on your next bottle. No way.
Heinz knows that, which is why they recently deployed a meme-focused social media campaign that ended up yielding 80,000 engagements and four million impressions across Facebook and Instagram. The ‘Is tomato a fruit or a vegetable’ debate has been raging on for a long time, which is what Heinz played on. They encouraged their fans to chime in by using hashtags.
Why Should You Include Memes In Your Social Media Campaigns?
In a time when consumers have had enough with ads, marketing imbued with familiar media and humor can even engage those hard-to-reach consumers. For creative pros, entertainers, entrepreneurs, digital marketers and professional storytellers, meme marketing is an extremely easy and low-cost way to attract a following.
Across every industry vertical we are seeing, more and more marketers are using memes to imprint their brand on the minds of their followers, relate to their audience, or build a community. Here’s why you need to start taking memes seriously… no pun intended.
Memes Are Inexpensive Content
Memes play off of content created by others, alleviating you from the need to always fabricate original content yourself. You just have to creatively riff off of existing media by giving it a twist or adding a new caption and save a lot of time. Not to mention, its perfectly ok if you lack any design skills, since the memer community is all for DIY, low-resolution content.
Memes Support a Sense of Community
Memes are downright hilarious, well most of the time and if you know the context, which helps foster a sense of community among your followers. Since everyone’s in on the same joke if they relate to the situation you refer to, memes create a sense of belonging in your audience. When you make people laugh and reminisce, you help them relate to your brand. Throw in a catchy tune and an absurd visual, and your meme is sure to go viral.
Meme-Based Content Triggers Shares
Memes are supposed to be shared and people love sharing them, which means that your meme is likely to reach an even wider audience across the web. When people re-share your meme, they advocate for your brand subconsciously.
Memes Create Brand Relevancy
Memes are always related to a current trend or event, which makes your brand seem human, modern, or real. Memes appeal to cultural or contemporary events which your audience is most likely already following. This makes your brand content appear fresh and authentic.
Using Memes, the Right Way
1 .Your Meme Shouldn’t Be At Odds With Your Brand Voice
While all marketers how that memes are audience magnets, the challenge is to incorporate them in a way that seems coherent with the overall brand voice. However, with the growing popularity of memes, even high-end lifestyle brands are tinkering around with this media to grow a following and stay relevant to a tech-savvy Millennials.
A high-quality meme is both insightful and funny, leveraging a mix of nostalgia, social commentary, and satire. However, it’s a double-edged sword. Memes can be rude and offensive as well, which means that marketers have to walk on eggshells, when It comes to meme marketing. Stay up to date with the current viral memes that your audience is interested in. The key is not to be overly conservative while staying authentic. Edgy content gives your brand personality a spark and puts it above competitors.
While not every meme will appeal to everyone, they help you reach a specific community and support niche positioning. The first step to refining your tone is to determine your target persona:
- What content does your audience prefer?
- What celebrities, TV shows, music, videos they like?
- How can you please them?
- What problems are faced by the community?
Once you know what type of content your target audience is interested in, you can craft tailored memes, drawing on the latest cultural trends and fads. Committing to a subculture or niche is the epitome of good marketing.
2. Get The Image Right
While they work for most social media platforms, they are especially suited to Instagram, since they superimpose a line or two of text over images. To make sure your Instagram memes are an instant hit, choosing the right images which will surely engage your audience is the key.
Barkbox, a subscription company for dogs, is one brand that gets their meme images right. All their memes have dog pictures that have been either been sent in from customers, picked up for free from creative commons or they have snapped themselves. All their memes are centered on Animal lovers, which ensures that their memes get shared a lot. Incorporating memes in social media marketing in this way sure reaps great results.
3. Jump in on the Popular Culture
- React to a Trending Cultural Phenomenon or a Recent Moment
Craft a reaction to something that just happened in real life, such as a live event like the Women’s World Cup or a random holiday.
For instance, one of the most surprising outcomes of the success of Netflix’s Stranger Things was the flood of memes surrounding a demised character, Barb. While this phenomenon was a surprise to even the creators of the show, Netflix did not hesitate to leverage it to their advantage. The brand was quick to share images that appealed to a cult following around Barb and used the memes to generate even more buzz about the show.
In a social media crazed world, timing is all that matters. Remember the blackout in the Superdome during Super Bowl XLVIII in New Orleans, which caused a 34-minute delay? Well, Oreo was quick to capitalize on it.
Participate in Meme-Style Challenges
A lot of brands capitalized on the Facebook #10YearChallenge to compare their old selves to new.
Look for Trends
Denny’s is all too famous for its off-the-wall social media content, characterized by internet slangs, memes, and emojis. As soon as the ‘Zoom in’ trend gained traction on the web, Denny’s jumped on the bandwagon with a meme that asks users to zoom in on particular parts of an image, before revealing the eventual punchline: “Has this distracted you from overwhelming existential dread lol”.
The reason this post generated so much engagement was that it was fresh and original at the time, especially helping Denny’s being the first brand to jump on the trend.
Screenshot a Tweet
When you are short on time, Social media managers can whip up something quick by repurposing Twitter content for Instagram to fabricate a meme in line with the brand, such as ‘that feeling when…’ meme or the ‘me when I …’ meme. Just be sure to incorporate the Twitter handle and account name of the original creator in your screenshot so as not to appear a perpetrator.
Repost Relevant User-Generated Memes
Because memes are by meant to be shared, meme creators encourage others to repost their content. Marketers can reshare memes directly, although double-check to make sure you’re resharing legally! Look at the example of Running world. The brand reposted a swear jar meme with proper credit in the comments, ensuring good content for the brand, while giving the smaller publisher.