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Marketing Through Memes: How To Do It Right

Brooke Spallino

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a meme is worth one million. Memes are a fun way to reflect on current events, trends, and cliches and make your audience laugh. With the help of social media, marketing with humor and familiar media can engage those hard-to-reach consumers. Across multiple industries, more marketers are using memes to build their brand, relate to their target audience, and build a community. 

No matter what social media platform you use, you can’t escape the millions of memes posted online daily. Marketing with memes is a strategy that’s increasingly becoming more popular, which has led to the birth of a new term: meme-jacking. This tactic involves hijacking a popular meme and using it to market your brand or product. Memes can be a powerful marketing tool because they are attention-grabbing, you can share them with just one click, and everyone can relate to them.

Including memes in your marketing strategy will help provide value to your target audience through entertainment without being too promotional. Brand marketing on social media requires a specific formula that includes branded and non branded content. Branded content typically has less engagement because it includes a promotional aspect to it. In fact, research shows that Gen-Z is more advertising-resistant than Gen X or Y.

If you’re thinking about incorporating memes into your marketing strategy, here’s how to do it right.

Why Use Memes for Marketing?

Memes are a great way to develop a funny, relatable brand personality and connect with your target audience. While they may have short lifespans, memes are an incredible engagement tool that can be used to boost customer reach and interaction. The key to using memes in your digital marketing is self-awareness. 

However, like any type of humor, using memes can also create a certain amount of risk as you don’t want to poorly construct a joke that comes off as offensive. Before you take the leap into introducing memes into your marketing strategy, make sure you’ve defined your brand voice. For example, if your brand uses a serious tone, maybe memes won’t help you establish credibility or authority and may not be the best way to engage with your target audience. 

Memes are cheap

Among all the content you can create on social media, memes are one of the most inexpensive ways to connect with your audience. All you need is a trending meme, a good idea, and any basic editing tool. Using memes can save your marketing department time and money that would have been needed to produce original content. 

Memes are shareable

Memes control internet culture and are a way for people to relax, have a laugh, and get their daily release of dopamine. Because of this, memes have become the most shareable content on the internet. With more shares comes more engagement, and more engagement can go a long way in establishing your brand awareness.

Memes support a sense of community

When people see a meme they can relate to they typically send the meme to a friend for a laugh, which expresses allegiance and advocates for your brand. By producing memes that are relatable and make your audience laugh, it creates a sense of community because everyone is in on the same joke. The popular sandwich chain, Jimmy Johns, does a great job using memes to connect with their audience and build brand loyalty through humor. 

Tips for Marketing with Memes

How do you go about creating engaging memes for marketing? There are no set rules to be followed, but here are a few things to keep in mind when creating memes for your digital marketing strategy:

  1. Know Your Target Audience

Like any other strategic digital marketing strategy, the first step to creating engaging content is to understand your target audience. For example, a joke about financial stability isn’t going to fly with a Gen Z crowd – they’re not even thinking about finances. Understanding your audience’s age, race, location, cultural background, and industry will help you tailor content that generates more engagement. 

  1. Be Original 

Keep up with trending meme templates or viral videos, and then add original captions. Spinning a familiar piece of media to speak directly to your community and align with your brand will help increase engagement and brand awareness. For example, BarkBox, the pet subscription service, brings its online community together by creating original memes that bring pet lovers together. The relatability of their memes causes followers to interact more with their posts and allows friends to share their mutual love for pets. 

  1. Keep Up with What’s Trending

Timeliness is critical when you’re marketing with memes. Like all pieces of pop culture, memes have a life cycle. It’s important to choose a meme that is already trending on social media platforms and adding your own brand flare to it. If a trend is already a few days to a week into its lifecycle, consider moving onto the next trend. You do not want to risk your brand looking out of touch. 

Seamless, the US online food delivery service, did a great job at this during the 2014 Academy Award nominations. They created various spoofed film posters about food, such as “The Wolf of Waffle Street” and used the hashtag ’OscarNomNoms.’ By combining timely newsjacking with original memes, they were able to generate a substantial amount of engagement for the brand.

  1. Don’t Overdo It

Memes are incredibly effective when used sparingly and when the timing is right. Using memes everyday on all social platforms will diminish their impact and bore your audience. They should be supplementary to other types of content you’re creating. 

  1. Stay on Brand

Creating a consistent brand persona and sticking with it is crucial for understanding what your brand stands for. Otherwise, you risk confusing and losing your audience with mixed messages. If done correctly, you’ll be able to reach new audiences and give your brand a human element through humor. 

Ready to use memes in your digital marketing strategy?

Memes continue to grow in popularity, showing up across multiple channels like Pinterest, IGTV, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and more. Marketing with memes is a great way to share your brand persona and promote your products/services without coming off too salesy. Remember to follow the latest trends and understand what your audience finds funny.

Will you start using memes in your digital marketing strategy?