Using Memes in Your Marketing to Liven Up Your Brand
First, What is a Meme?
A meme is a humorous image or video – often embellished with text – that is copied (with slight variations) and can be shared virtually. These images often poke fun at an awkward and relatable social situation that can be shared and related to with friends. Memes are a worldwide, digital, social phenomenon because they are incredibly engaging.
So when it comes to meme marketing, it’s important to keep it light, fun, and fresh. It may sound simple, but what can make marketing with memes difficult for most brands is executing the perfect meme content that appeals to the general online user as well as your main consumer market.
Benefits of Meme Marketing
Memes Break the Regular Online Marketing Norm
From a marketing and advertising standpoint, memes are a remarkable branding strategy because consumers don’t immediately recognize them as a marketing ploy. In this modern world where advertisements are plastered all over websites, news articles, and social media, people have learned to tune out the innumerable ads they are bombarded by every day.
Marketing with humor and familiar media is a clever way to engage hard-to-reach customers because you’re putting the advertisement in a format they like and want to see. Rather than rolling their eyes at another business trying to sell them something, consumers will look at the meme for longer than a split second.
Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy
From an economic standpoint, memes are an extremely cost-effective way to market your brand to consumers. Memes are mostly reposted content from someone else. This saves businesses the time and money it would take to design original graphics.
Memes evolve effortlessly and quickly because it doesn’t take much to alter or personalize them. The nature of meme content is casual and DIY.
Humanizes Your Brand
Memes foster a sense of community and relatability with viewers. They make a company seem more authentic and human. People want to support companies with character and personality, not stiff, robotic companies that only want to sell, sell, sell.
With memes, you can show consumers that you do not take yourself so seriously and that your company is personable and approachable.
Creates Sharable Content
One of the central tenets of the meme community is that memes are made to be shared. This makes memes an extremely engaging form of social media content. They are humorous in nature, so people want to share them with their friends to make them laugh (or at least smile and breathe heavily out their nose).
This spreads the reach of the post not just to your business’s followers, but to anyone consumers might want to share the meme with. The more your meme is shared, the more exposure your brand gets.
However, Meme Marketing Doesn’t Work for Every Business
Despite the many benefits of meme marketing, there are several drawbacks to using memes. One disadvantage of using memes is using them when they aren’t right for your business’s brand.
Trying Too Hard to Be Relatable to Younger Generations
Memes are a great way to appeal to Millennial and Gen-Z audiences – the prime online users. But if they don’t fit your business’s brand, it can seem a little like your grandfather trying to talk to you in street slang – it’s just awkward.
Throwing in words like “YOLO,” “lit,” or “bae” to make your meme more relatable to younger audiences is also a great way to watch your meme fail. If your meme content feels forced or awkward, it will make others feel awkward too.
As a rule of thumb, don’t throw slang in your memes – or really any of your brand strategies – to try and relate to younger generations. It does not work.
Missing the Mark with Your Brand’s Voice
Many meme marketing attempts miss the mark because they fail to make sure the meme matches the brand’s voice. Memes are becoming so mainstream that even high-end businesses can successfully use them. The issue is not with the status of the brand, but the voice of the brand.
Creating successful meme content requires a firm understanding of how others perceive your brand and your brand identity goals.
Memes are usually satirical, lighthearted, and socially relatable. This makes them a lousy choice for brands that are very serious or businesses that deal with stressful situations that are no laughing matter.
Overall, your business’s brand must be one that is capable of joking around for memes to work for you. Memes are meant to be funny and relatable. If your brand can’t channel that energy authentically, meme marketing is not going to work.
Meme Marketing Mishaps to Avoid
Don’t Treat Memes the Same as Other Online Marketing and Advertising Tactics
One common meme marketing mistake is that businesses try to frame their meme content just like they would a regular advertisement. Meme marketing is not about selling products or services; it’s about engaging consumers with relatable and exciting content to showcase your business’s personality and keep your business relevant.
In other words, it is about brand exposure and standing out from the other online marketing tactics out there. If they look the same as the rest, then the meme marketing strategy will be unsuccessful.
Successful memes don’t have call to actions like “buy,” “subscribe,” or “contact.” Amusing, relatable content is more likely to be shared. It will increase your business’s likability and result in people remembering your brand’s messaging longer than other marketing content out there.
Memes Are Not Meant to Be Serious
Another mistake companies make when using memes for social media is when they fail to embody the playful, laid-back nature of a meme. Meme content is not meant to be serious or conservative. The image and text on a meme should be lighthearted, relatable, and comical. This is not the time for a dramatic, emotional appeal. The goal is to be funny in a light, natural way.
If you take yourself too seriously or do not have a firm grasp with the humor you see online, meme marketing may not be your brand’s strong suit. This is where having a digital marketing agency that creates fun, appealing ideas can come to help.
At the Same Time, Don’t Be Offensive
Lastly, be careful not to include any potentially offensive content. Many memes on the internet use dark humor and satire, but this is a dangerous area for businesses to cross into. Research the context and background of a meme before using it haphazardly in your business’s social media.
If you want the dark humor memes associated with your brand, let them come naturally. In other words, let other online users make the edgy meme content that gets shared. You do not want to publish your own unless it is a known element of your brand. Otherwise, don’t try it.
Always get a second or third opinion before posting anything edgy, or it could come back to haunt your brand. Content that is meant to be harmless may come off as out-of-touch and tasteless.
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How to Tell if Meme Marketing is Right for Your Business
While meme marketing is a handy tactic for some businesses, it can be a big mistake for others. If you’re wondering if meme marketing is the right move for your business, consider your business’s brand and consumer base first.
If your primary consumer base is inherently serious and conservative, stop right there. Think about what kind of content that would grab their attention in the right way. If it’s possible to draw humor from any aspect of your business, then you can relate to and entertain your customers through meme marketing.
Just play it smart and keep it cool.
Jessica Smith is a Writing Intern at Catapult Creative Media. She is a senior at LSU concentrating in Political Communication. She has also studied at universities in New Zealand and Indonesia. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys listening to live music and exploring the great outdoors.
Work with Catapult Creative Media Inc. Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving south Louisiana and headquartered in Baton Rouge. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.