Memes - those quirky, funny little images - have become powerful marketing tools for brands. Even the most traditional brands have understood their marketing potential and jumped on the bandwagon to make memes.
Memes.com has a combined total of 16 million followers on Instagram and Facebook. Their Facebook Messenger bot is at #1 in the Entertainment category, with 60K+ users uploading and requesting memes on it daily.
You don’t have to be a genius to realize the kind of marketing opportunity memes provide to brands. And since memes are so popular right now, this is the perfect time to tap into them. But it isn’t going to be easy.
Social media platforms, even professional hangouts like LinkedIn, are flooded with high-quality memes. The competition to create better and more engaging memes is stiff. Modern consumers expect catchy and unique content that they can share in their circles and boost their personal brand.
In short, it’s going to be hard to grab eyeballs, especially if you’re recycling jaded meme concepts. That’s why you need a solid marketing strategy if you want your memes to be more than just a joke.
And that’s precisely what we're going to discuss in this post. But first, let’s understand why memes have snowballed into an internet sensation.
Why Are Memes a Great Marketing Vehicle for Brands?
Consumers, especially millennials and Gen Zers, are averse to traditional advertising. So, if your social media content consists mainly of self-promotional messages, you’ll likely get very low engagement from these target groups.
Memes, on the other hand, use humor and wit to convey serious messaging in an off-hand manner. They are easy to consume and share, which is why they witness huge engagement on social platforms.
Memes garner more comments and likes than advertisements since modern consumers are not wary of them. When posted on blogs and websites, they attract inbound links and loads of traffic.
If you need further evidence of why memes should be the crux of your social media marketing, take a cue from Heinz.
Image via Pinterest
The ketchup brand built an entire campaign based on memes, which got them 80K engagements on Facebook and Instagram and 4 million impressions in all. This was 4x their usual advertising return.
But that’s not all...
Memes are incredibly easy to create. You can easily piggyback on popular meme concepts and repost them with a tweak or two. There’s no risk of copyright or plagiarism in the meme world.
3 Proven Tips for Meme Marketing
To become a true blue memer, you need to understand the basics of meme marketing. There are no set rules for it, but there are some things you need to remember when marketing with memes. Here they are:
1. Be Relatable
Balance is essential when you’re using memes. Your memes can fall flat if you try too hard to sound cool. At the same time, you can’t play it too safe and create run-of-the-mill content.
Take a leaf out of Gucci’s #TFW campaign playbook. The sophisticated brand is known for its conservative messaging. But in 2017, they ventured out of their comfort zone by having professional artists create a series of hilarious memes for their campaign.
Image via Instagram
The edgy pictures, catchy captions, and perfect positioning helped the brand reach out to their hipper, younger consumers.
To show solidarity with memes, Gucci created an explainer video about the history of memes on their campaign landing page.
2. Timing is Everything
With memes, timeliness is everything. Since social media users yearn for “in-the-moment” content, they will likely ignore memes based on outdated concepts.
To keep up with the latest trends, set up alerts on Twitter and Facebook. Check out hashtags in your domain and follow influencers in your niche. You’ll get to know new meme concepts and news items that you can latch on to.
Need a real example?
The restaurant chain, Denny’s, has mastered memeology. When Apple’s new Mac Pro came out, netizens joked that it bore an uncanny resemblance to a cheese grater. Joining in on the joke, Denny’s came up with the following meme:
Image via Twitter
3. Brand Your Memes Uniquely
Sure, you can bask in the limelight of popular memes. But don’t forget that you have to create a niche for your brand with meme marketing. You won’t be able to do that if you simply repost published content.
You need to put your thinking cap on. Get creative and stamp your memes with a unique look and feel that people will gradually start associating with your brand. And don’t think that all that time and effort will be wasted.
If you look at stats about visual content marketing, you’ll know that most brands focus on creating original graphics. You need to follow suit or be left behind in the race.
Image via Venngage
Invest in a robust picture editor or hire professional meme creators to create standout memes aligned with your branding guidelines. But since memes are just one part of your digital marketing, you don’t want to spend your entire marketing budget on them. I recommend that you try free editing tools like Canva and Paint.NET.
Do you need a real-life example of a brand that’s killing it with original memes?
Then, check out Barkbox’s Instagram feed. The dog supplies and subscription box brand is popular for its dog-centric memes. Here is an example:
Image via Instagram
By putting dogs in the spotlight, the brand reinforces its brand messaging again and again. The cute and entertaining memes are actually powerful brand-building tools for Barkbox.
Ready to Amp Up Your Meme Game?
While memes may not generate hard leads or sales, they are still worth investing in.
The trick to making meme marketing rock for you is to maintain balance. Don’t be tempted to bombard feeds and inboxes with too many memes. Ride the wave with popular meme themes, but be original as well.
Have fun with meme marketing!