Table of Contents
- What is meme marketing?
- Reasons to create a marketing meme strategy
- How to use memes for marketing
- Interested in meme marketing for your business?
Memes are an integral part of our vernacular today. The word “meme” represents both a:
- Meme (noun): a cultural item in the form of a graphic, phrase, video, etc. that’s spread throughout the internet and can be altered creatively or humorously
- Meme (verb): to spread or create such memes, or to turn an item or subject into a meme
You’ve probably seen digital marketing memes if you use social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Animals like cats, characters like Kermit the Frog and scenes from movies get memed every day. Senator Bernie Sanders has been memed. So has a Drake music video. And who could forget the boyfriend checking out a woman who’s so not his girlfriend on the street?
Memes are a popular form of communication today. Smartphone users can have entire conversations via meme, with a buffet of graphics and GIFs to pull up right in a text messaging app.
That makes memes a potentially powerful marketing tool for businesses, too. Memes are relatable, are easy to understand and get to the point quickly. If you want to build deeper, more effective connections with your customers, here’s why you may want to consider meme marketing for your brand.
What is meme marketing?
Meme marketing is the use of memes in a business marketing strategy. Memes use recognizable images, short animations (GIFs) and phrases to convey new ideas in a creative, and often humorous, way.
Memes can be created with a variety of methods. Some people use meme generators to choose an image template and add their own unique copy onto the visual. Others take a popular phrase and create their own branded image. For example, GE used the popular opening phrase, “Hey, girl,” to create a series of Thomas Edison-themed memes for its Pinterest page.
The bottom line: take something that’s instantly recognizable, and add your own brand twist to it for a shareable meme.
Spreading memes is particularly popular with younger generations. A Statista study of 2,200 Gen Z and Millennial respondents (ages 13 to 38 years old) found memes created by someone else were the second-most likely shared content on social media. The study reported 35% of respondents were “very likely” to share memes on social media, while 31% were “somewhat likely” to share memes. Meme sharing was second only to travel experiences.
Brands can incorporate meme marketing in a variety of channels and content types. They can be used:
- As social media posts on sites like Instagram and Facebook
- Within pieces of content, like blog marketing, email newsletters and videos
- In SMS marketing messaging and promotions
Any type of visual marketing channels you use, you could incorporate memes where relevant. Since research has confirmed humor is the most popular tone in meme marketing, when humor is an appropriate tone in your marketing strategy, memes fit right in.
Reasons to create a marketing meme strategy
If you have Millennial, Gen Z, or younger consumers, meme marketing can help you attract their attention and motivate them to engage with your brand. Memes can be consumed in mere seconds, which makes them a great marketing tool as attention spans continue to dwindle. A 2021 Microsoft study found attention spans clocked in at just 8 seconds, which dropped 25% compared to a few years prior.
Memes provide many potential benefits compared to other forms of marketing. They’re:
- Shareable: As the Statista study found, memes are among the most likely to be shared content by younger social media users. That helps you boost social media engagement, which can help your content rise up on social channel feeds and generate more leads and sales.
- Quick and easy: Memes require just a few words to get your message across. The visual part of a meme alone makes a big impact. You can use a template and add your own message, or overlay a popular phrase on your own branded content in just a few minutes.
- Recognizable: Memes grab attention because they’re highly visual. As we’ve reported, content with visuals is viewed more than 90% more than content with text only. Memes may be recognizable because your target audience is already familiar with the visual or message you’re using. They may also grab attention because the visual or message resonates with the user, regardless of whether they’re familiar with that specific content or not.
- Relatable: Memes help establish an emotional connection between brands and consumers. This can help humanize brands, including B2B businesses, since they show off relatability.
Since memes fit into so many marketing channels, you can easily repurpose them. You can even use the same meme template, whether it’s the visual or the message, and repurpose it over and over again by infusing it with new creative content. They’re the marketing gift that keeps on giving, as long as they relate to your audience.
How to use memes for marketing
Memes won’t make sense for all marketing channels or for all brands. If your business is very serious in nature and elsewhere in brand marketing (say, you provide disaster relief for impoverished nations, or you offer grief counseling for families who have lost loved ones to substance abuse), meme marketing may not make sense for your brand.
However, meme marketing could help you evolve your brand and reach new demographics. B2B brands may want to be aware of meme marketing strategy as the decision-makers purchasing their services become younger, for example. In the future, we could see more professional and serious social networks feature memes, as well, like LinkedIn meme growth.
If you’re considering using meme marketing for your business, follow these best practices to make it effective.
1. Understand your target audience
First, determine who your target audience is and what their interests are. Then, analyze whether or not your target audience uses memes, and, if so, what kind of memes are most popular in that demographic.
It’s helpful to involve people who fit that target demographic in your meme marketing strategy. They can make suggestions for memes they’ve seen and help you determine if your messaging will be effective.
2. Ensure meme compliance
Memes go viral every day, but that doesn’t mean a business can use a meme to advertise their product or service without facing potential legal repercussions. For example, when Warner Brothers used the popular cat memes Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat in a game, the meme creators sued the company.
Memes may be considered intellectual property, which protects the meme creators from unfair use. Your business most likely won’t get sued from sharing memes from other accounts’ pages on the internet, but if you’re going to use popular content in memes that advertise your brand’s products, that’s where things get riskier. Run memes you’ve created by your legal team before publishing them.
3. Think creatively
One way to protect your business when using memes is to create more of your own original meme content. You could take a cue from GE and use a popular phrase to create memes with a new visual slant, for example.
Or, build off popular meme formats and adapt them to your own content. You can still use a familiar, popular idea and spin it in a new way that ensures you’re not breaking copyright laws.
4. Be inclusive and friendly
Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to memes. On social networks and on forums like Reddit, memes have been used to spread conspiracy theories and harmful prejudice.
The best practice with memes is to lead with humor and make the content inclusive so that it doesn’t offend or alienate your target audience. This is another reason why getting input from your team members who fit your target demographic can also be helpful before you share a meme.
5. Stay consistent with branding
Always consider your audience with meme marketing. Does a target buyer in his 50s want to see a meme in a Whitepaper? Probably not. Does a meme make sense to B2C customers on Instagram? Maybe, as long as it’s not offensive or exclusionary.
As you create and evolve your meme marketing standards, integrate them into your marketing brand guidelines. That way, your designers, copywriters, social media marketers and content creators are all on the same page to create a consistent meme marketing strategy for your brand.
Interested in meme marketing for your business?
If you have any type of social media or content marketing strategy, meme marketing may make sense to include. ClearVoice solutions include social media marketing and content strategy. Our team of designers and content creators can help you create a meme marketing strategy that fits your brand.