How to Use Memes for Social Media Marketing

SOCIAL MEDIA | CONTENT MARKETING

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by Desmund Ullrich

May 19, 2020 8 min read

Pop Culture Geek | Content Strategist | Marketing Manager

Memes are becoming expressions of the most popular forms in the online community, and definitely that’s with good reason. Besides being funny and entertaining, their concise nature makes them ideal for consumption as people tend to have a very shorter attention span while scrolling through social media sites like Facebook or Instagram. Often described as infectious, we all agree that there is a lot of marketing potential that lies behind these memes. 

Most people will passively share memes they like most with their friends and family. While that’s fun and a great way to connect with the people around you, what if you lay down a strategy of how you can use these memes to share your content instead? Think about it, memes can help you get exposure for both your products and services within a short period of time — especially when they are used effectively.

Why you should be marketing with memes.

Marketing with memes is similar to the concept of newsjacking, a term coined by the revolutionary PR and Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott. Newsjacking is the process of adding your thoughts and opinions into breaking news stories. It's piggybacking on trending news topics to get yourself noticed.

To successfully tie your brand to a trending news topic it must be relevant to your story and popular enough to attract attention from a wider audience. To be successful at this strategy you must get in before a story peaks and it’s popularity begins to wear off.

Similar to news stories, memes have a certain lifecycle of first becoming popular, then spreading, and then duplicating before eventually burning out. Every now and then a meme does have a second or even a third revival, but these cases a few and far between.

That said, here are some of the ways in which you can take advantage of the popularity of memes to your advantage, integrating them into your social media marketing and campaigns.

Create a meme library.

A meme library is an online database of memes that can be shared and exchanged publicly through services like Giphy. These memes are automatically added to SMS/iMessage, Instagram Stories, Google Image search, and Facebook comment options. When your memes are properly watermarked with your username, @, or website, they will serve as a constant billboard back to you, your product, or your service. 

Your meme library could either have original memes that you have created on your own or existing ones that you have repurposed to fit your needs. When it comes to repurposing existing memes, you need to add unique captions on some of the most trending viral videos, GIFs, or images. These captions will help you connect to your new audience and bring delightful moments to your followers. 

Creating original memes will allow you to brand your memes and keep your content unique. However, this could be a little challenging as you have to source materials for creating the meme and develop relatable commentary.

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Use memes that match your brand voice.

Many marketers know that memes are an appealing way to connect with their audience. However, the biggest challenges come when you incorporate them in a strategy while still maintaining the consistency of your brand. A high-quality meme needs to be funny and at the same time insightful. 

A very important tip is that memes should be structured as a cultural commentary. This is to say that you should not rush to add an action item like ‘subscribe’ ‘follow’ or ‘buy’ in the body. From a business perspective, you also want to avoid topics that can be offensive or derogatory — unfortunately many memes cross this threshold and lose out to the potential benefits that humor can provide.

When your audience finds the memes you share entertaining, they will pass them around hence giving your brand more exposure. This will help you to generate more visitors and sales in the long run. 

Keep up with the trends.

When you are using memes as your social media marketing strategy, you need to understand that timelines are very crucial. That said, you need to watch out for both Facebook and Twitter and find out what people are talking about. 

Your meme is more likely to go viral if they are based on some of the most popular trends. Like this Popeye's Chicken Sandwich meme created by my team as a campaign to increase followers.  However, you need to resist the temptation of going overboard. Your audience is likely to get bored fast if you overuse memes to market your brand. Use them sparingly. 

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Participate in the popular meme-style challenges.

Meme-style challenges come up every now and then. You can take advantage of these trends by participating in them. Let’s say for instance the popular Facebook #10yearschallenge. You could compare your logo 10 years ago with the current one. For example, in a clever meme poking fun at before and afters, my team cashed in on the "old face" trend that went viral with the creation of the Apple store FaceApp.

Final verdict? Memes have proven to be one of the best ways to market your brand to a wider audience without sounding too salesy. Besides being very cheap to produce, they are relatable and increase your engagement. Understand the needs of the audience, what they find funny, follow popular trends and you are good to go.

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