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Marketing with Memes: The Dos and Don’ts

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Memes are the trending tool that you need in your marketing strategy. Yep, you read that right. Once a niche form of online entertainment, memes are now an incredibly effective way to increase your brand awareness and audience engagement. But what exactly is a meme? The term was in fact coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book ‘The Selfish Gene’ to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Today, memes are commonly understood to be a humorous image, video or text that is spread rapidly online, often with slight variations.

When used effectively by your brand, memes can go beyond a quick laugh and become a powerful form of marketing. The best part? Memes are cheap and easy to create, feel entertaining rather than promotional and, if they go viral, spread quickly across social media. So, how do you create one that will get your brand the right attention? To help you make your meme the most memorable it can be, we’ve put together a list of handy tips.

Here are the dos and don’t when marketing with memes

Keep up with trends

When marketing with memes, relevance is crucial. To gain the most traction, you need to post your meme when its popularity is peaking. You want your brand to look current, so avoid recycling memes that have fallen out of fashion. Once a meme’s popularity has dissipated, it’s quickly deemed irrelevant and unfunny. There isn’t an exact lifespan for memes, the only way to know what’s trending is to stay up to date online. So, make sure you follow the latest trends on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to know what’s popular. It’s also worth exploring Reddit, 9gag and KnowYourMeme.com to discover new memes that are gaining traction.

You should also avoid memes that have moved offline and broken into mainstream media, as they’ll quickly become unfashionable due to oversaturation. Remember that memes are largely considered an inside joke that are specific to the internet and social media. As Sam Blum writes for Life Hacker, when a meme “starts cropping up on cable news” or “in the family text chain,” it’s safe to assume it’s “dead.” Use a meme that’s peaking online but has yet to be ‘meme-jacked’ by any other brand or media outlet. This will ensure that your marketing strategy feels fresh and generates the most audience engagement.

Trends

Be on brand

While it’s tempting to jump on a meme that’s gone viral, it’s worth considering whether it’s actually relevant to your brand. Not every meme will work with your image, so it’s okay to be selective. It’s always better to use memes sparingly and effectively than to look like your brand is trying too hard. The right meme should still feel authentic to your brand’s identity and mix well with your regular content. If it’s done right, your meme will both strengthen your brand’s identity while tapping into what’s trending.

When you do find a popular meme that works for your brand, try to put a fresh spin on it. Popular memes are quickly replicated and shared, so yours will need to be creative to stand out from the crowd. Consider how you can incorporate your brand’s name, logo, or tagline into the meme in a way that’s creative, funny and a bit edgy. The most original take on a viral meme will garner the most attention, so the more brand specific you make it, the better.

Popular

Know your audience

The key to any effective marketing strategy is creating content that appeals to your audience. Marketing with memes is no different. Research what your audience is interested in and what they find entertaining. Create memes that will be in line with their sense of humour to generate the most engagement. For example, Netflix will regularly tweet memes using screen grabs from the movies and shows that are trending that month. They’ll also retweet memes that their viewers have created about their movies or shows, which is an extremely effective and easy way to market with user generated content.

Be aware that different generations will have different tastes in memes. Millennial and Gen Z internet humour can be so incongruent that there are in fact memes about that very topic, with the two generations making fun of each other online. To make your meme effective, you first need to understand who your target demographic is and tailor it to their specific sense of humour.

Millennial and Gen Z

Be appropriate

As funny as memes can be, it’s still important to ensure they’re not offensive. Before you create your meme, research its origin. If the original meme makes fun of a particular community, uses slurs, or has offensive imagery, you’ll want to avoid it even if it’s trending. Memes should be a source of entertainment and a fun way to increase your brand awareness, never content that degrades people’s identities.

You want your memes to strengthen your relationship with your audience by demonstrating your relatability and shared sense of humour. If your meme is excluding or disrespecting a particular group, it will have the opposite effect and decrease your audience’s trust in your brand. So, make your meme as wild and edgy as you deem appropriate for your brand, but don’t make it at the expense of someone else.

Audience

Incorporate these tips and you’ll soon see how easy it is to create memes that are funny, easy to digest and above all, memorable. They’re sure to be a hit with your audience and get people talking about your brand. If you’re looking for more advice on how to implement memes in your marketing, or want more guidance with your strategy, why not get in touch? We’d be happy to help.

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