24 Aug By The Power Vested in Memes
Everyone loves a good meme—it’s one of the many things that makes the internet great. We have access to an abundantly creative, inspiring platform where we can make, find and share memes that are hilarious, cringe-worthy, educational, promotional or just downright wrong (we’re looking at you, whispering sloth).
By definition, a meme is a packaged cultural concept, idea, or system of behavior sent from one individual to another, and they’re often widespread or viral. They are littered all over the internet that some 3.5 billion of us browse every day; on social media, in blogs, in the ads alongside news reports. Memes reach such a wide audience, and we’re all familiar with seeing them replicated. So how can we use the trend to our advantage?
The answer is simple. Behold, the fun, the interactive, the awe-inspiring… *drum roll*
Memes are designed to be engaging, creative and funny; which is perfect for a brand hoping to implement a marketing strategy that incorporates these qualities. Popular memes are usually already viral and therefore widely understood, so it can be easy for a company to make an impression when they’re used correctly. Memes are super shareable, so by customizing and including a brand name, logo or ideals in a meme, there’s the potential to spread a branded message as far as other well-known memes. For a while you couldn’t scroll through social media without seeing Spongegar pop up.
You might have seen our previous blog post where we employed the always-relevant troll face meme and created our own graphic from it. Some big brands like Seamless have had success using existing memes, with their own personal twist, in online advertising.
Memes are easy to consume—they’re familiar, and take little to no effort to understand and appreciate. This is what makes them so enjoyable to users on social media, and why they can be such an effective marketing tool. Rather than big chunks of advertising or promotional pieces, a meme is quickly absorbed and, if done well, extremely memorable. It’s a lot harder to scroll past a picture of Trump’s face frozen in a, shall we say, unfortunate expression, with a few short, tempting words on it, than a status that is so long you have to click ‘read more’ to see the whole thing. Users of social media are constantly saying they don’t have time to see everything on their news feeds, so creating a small, quick post that gets a message across quickly is a great attention-grabbing tactic.
Brands can also use memes in non-visual ways. The use of ‘word memes,’ or sayings usually associated with a viral meme, in promotional copy will make people who understand the reference feel like they’re ‘in’ on the joke. And if they don’t understand it? No harm done, it’ll just go over their heads. So, use ALL THE WORD MEMES. One does not simply have marketing with only visuals. Remember that hashtag that was blowing up around New Years? Girls posting hilarious, cruel things they were suggesting we do to guys? “Wait for your wedding day then send him a photo from the airport, saying ‘I catch flights not feelings’ #WasteHisTime2016.” Hilarity (and a great example of the elusive word meme) ensued.
Memes go viral because people like to share the latest easily-consumable slice of familiarity, hilarity and absurdity that they stumbled across, and probably giggled to, with their family and friends. Using a well-established meme is great because it means a wider audience is already familiar with it. However, if you can’t find a meme that works, make your own! A meme specifically made for a brand can be an excellent tactic. Just think of all the unexpected success of memes that’ve gone viral (who would have thought after all these years, Arthur’s clenched fist would be spotted all over the internet?), and imagine what that kind of exposure could do for a brand! Creating unique, branded memes is a great way to inspire conversation among a brand, that brand’s audience, and the further removed users the meme is shared with.
However, a word of caution for the over-enthusiastic meme marketer: before you use a meme, make sure you fully understand it. There is nothing worse than using a meme incorrectly. People will make fun of you. We’re saying this because we care. Ensure you have a clear understanding of what the meme in question is all about, how it’s generally used, and how it relates to your brand. The memes chosen to promote a brand should always be relevant, otherwise the target audience won’t be interested. And they will laugh at you.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with memes for marketing, but always keep brand goals and target audience in mind. As always, be sure to post content that accurately reflects your brand and resonate with the people you want it to reach. The best thing about memes is they’re fun! So whatever you do, don’t suck the fun out of memes. They’re intended to be amusing, witty, cute and enjoyable, so be sure to use them as such.