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It’s hard to tell when exactly modern memes were born. We only know that they started gathering steam in the late 2000s with the emergence of platforms like 9GAG. In the years that followed, the rise of Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter further fuelled the meme culture.
There are memes everywhere today. Sometimes it’s a boyfriend who gets a little distracted. Other times, it’s Winnie the Pooh who explains the difference between ordinary and sophisticated language. But memes are not just meant to ridicule human behavior to make the audience laugh. They can be powerful marketing tools that brands can leverage to increase engagement on their digital channels.
‘Meme marketing’ is something that businesses should seriously consider.
Let’s know more about Meme Marketing
Your marketing needs some memes
Memes are about connection as much as they are about humor. They have the power to create an online community for a short period of time. It allows people to feel good, share laughs, and serve as a social glue in politically turbulent times.Sure, brands want to inspire a similar sentiment. Creating caricatures on a regular basis and capitalizing on trends can help engage audiences, create a sense of connectedness, and even inspire brand loyalty.
Here are four reasons why you need to work on your meme-making skills right away:
1. Memes Are Engaging
According to an estimate, Internet users spend 145 minutes a day on social media. These people are there to watch cat videos, share jokes, and take their attention away from everything that bothers them in real life. On social media, 77% of users follow your pages to receive coupons and discounts. Since there are only so many promo codes you can post to generate activity, memes are a great way to reach customers who may not know about your brand.
Share a good meme and you’re almost guaranteed to have impressions, likes, shares, retweets and other forms of online interaction. Memes allow brands to engage customers without appearing as ‘sales’. Even if memes aren’t closely related to your business, they still get your point across. And since first impressions are important, there’s nothing better than introducing yourself to potential customers with some good old fashion humor.
2. Memes make your brand trustworthy
Brands these days are using a more relaxed approach to customer communication, often using a casual tone. Some people have taken things a step further by adding some sass to the mix. All this is done to make a brand less robotic and somewhat human.
Customers need to know that you do not represent a stuck corporate entity, but something that is much more vibrant. This is where memes come in. Nothing lets the humanity of the brand shine through like the humor.
There are different shades of meme marketing. Some brands also create memes at their own expense and as a result gain a lot of traction. Self-deprecating jokes are never funny and people prefer brands that don’t take themselves too seriously. At the end of the day, comedy allows people to build stronger relationships with businesses.
3. Memes cost no money
Ever wondered why there are so many memes on the internet? That’s because anyone can make them. You don’t even need basic photo-editing skills to make one. Meme generators will do the work for you. You need to add text in a pre-made format. Once that’s done, click ‘Generate’ and you’re done.
Meme marketing requires minimal investment. Businesses can hire the experts they want. Quality memes can work well for your social media and therefore, hiring someone who specializes in this sort of thing would not be a bad investment.
However, even if you don’t have the resources for a dedicated meme, you can join in the fun. Anyone who keeps us up to date with popular trends and has social media savvy can create good memes. That’s probably the best part of this whole exercise.
4. Memes can help you go viral
What is the holy grail of online marketing? Be popular. and that is all. A marketer dreams of creating content that spreads like wildfire and travels from screen to screen. But it is difficult to make this dream a reality with promotional posts on social media. Once again, marketing with memes gives you the perfect opportunity to do just that. Marketers invest a lot of resources in creating content that will go viral. Of course, most would prefer something that is directly related to their product like a deal or a discount code. But this rarely happens. Memes are more shareable and they can symbolize your brand for days to come.
How to get meme marketing right
Memes add a bit of flavor to your entire marketing and are easy to make. However, this does not mean that you can simply build one and expect a huge influx of visitors the next day. There is a way to this madness.
You need to put together a little strategy before jumping on the meme train. Good memes are a surefire way to get people to talk about you. Bad memes will either go unnoticed or, in the worst case, leave your brand desperate and out of touch.
Following are the 5 key aspects of meme marketing that you should never ignore.
1. Timing is the Key
Like a good punchline, a meme is delivered at an appropriate time. You need to capitalize on a popular trend. So keep an eye on what’s happening on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter. KFC decided to get in on the action and put their own spin on the rivalry, taking shots at rivals McDonald’s and Burger King. It was an exhaustive tweet that garnered over 155,700 retweets and 705,000 likes.
This is the level of reach that even marketing campaigns backed by huge investments fail to achieve. But KFC did it with just one meme. Along with the creativity and humor, it was the timing of this tweet that made it such a hit.
2. Don’t go in the blind
Comedy works best when it is delivered to the right audience. Show a millennial comic strip with “husband and wife” jokes and you’ll only get forms of disapproval in return. Conversely, someone from the older generation would probably like that kind of humor. Consider your audience’s age, cultural background, race, and economic class before making a joke. Just because your marketing with memes doesn’t mean it has to be done without thinking through the whole process.
Let’s say you are running the Facebook page of the US Department of Health and Human Services. What you don’t want to do is jump into a popular meme trend without first considering how receptive your audience will be to posts like this. Unfortunately, someone thought this would be a good idea. Although Doge is a popular Internet icon, making him the mascot of a government healthcare program might not be the best idea. Health is a serious matter and the simple rule of ‘Know your audience’ could have prevented this mess.
3. Be Confident, Constructive, and Indirect
Memes work a certain way. Someone in one corner of the Internet comes up with a strange format. Often the content comes from a movie, TV show, news, or anything that is currently popular. People add their ingenuity to this format and voila, you have thousands of memes being shared in just a few hours.
Of these, the memes that are most relatable and creative stand out. The third ingredient in this recipe that brands require is indirect. Let’s go back to that distracted boyfriend meme. Many brands jumped on the bandwagon when this image became popular in 2017.
4. Connect Memes to Your Online Identity
A viral meme will attract you on social media for a limited time. But to get the most long-term results from your meme marketing efforts, the content needs to support your online identity. Perhaps no one understood this better than Wendy. The fast food chain was being bullied on Twitter before most of its competitors even knew how the platform worked.
Over the years, Wendy’s has remained consistent with its edgy, pop-culture savvy, and aggressive form of comedy. The restaurant has built a whole persona around its customers ‘roasting’ (abusive) and outright mean to everyone online. Wendy’s Twitter shares a variety of memes on an almost hourly basis. These memes work because they align with the overall online persona of the company. Basically, the memes are on Wendy’s social media in the form of fries to hamburgers.
5. Don’t be discouraged
Let’s be real There is nothing worse than forced humor. As a marketer, you will feel compelled to indulge in a popular meme format. But sometimes it’s better to let it slide if you can’t do something weird. Likewise, don’t drag your brand into popular trends where it doesn’t belong or you risk making people laugh at you instead of with you.
McDonald’s UK made a tweet back in 2018 that contrasted what meme marketing had acquired. The motif came from the “Say No More Fam” meme that ridiculed weird haircuts. The fast food chain made its own version of the meme and you can see where the problem lies. The memes didn’t make sense and instead of coming across as funny and relatable, the restaurant only managed to embarrass itself on the internet.
Marketing has changed a lot in the last few years. Brands can no longer just afford to promote, they also need to be related. Even if your objective is to sell products or services, there is still a need to build genuine relationships with customers. Comedy is a great way to start a conversation, foster a relationship, and then move on to promoting whatever you’re offering. Meme marketing is a more subtle and indirect promotional strategy.
But before you start, you need to get to know your audience and find out what they find strange. Not all of your creations will be an instant hit, but that’s okay. Remember to avoid creating something that people find objectionable. You don’t want to appear desperate to get a few clicks.
Keeping pace with pop culture is also important. See what’s trending, create a topical meme, and don’t get too hyped. People should be able to connect to the meme and most importantly, it should be really funny. Who knows? Maybe you can build a strong brand identity for one meme at a time. The possibilities are endless.
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