Looking for a fun way to engage people on social media? Have you considered using memes in your marketing?
In this article, you'll discover how your business can use memes to engage and connect with people.
4 Reasons to Include Memes in Your Social Media Content
In a time when many consumers skip ads whenever they can, marketing with humor and familiar media can engage hard-to-reach consumers. For professional storytellers—digital marketers, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and creative pros—meme marketing can be an extremely low-cost way to create engaging content that attracts a following.
On social media, memes usually take the form of a GIF or static picture playing on a familiar theme, meaning, or phenomenon, often with text layered on top of or over the image.
Across industries, more marketers are using memes to build community, relate to their audience, and stick in their followers' memory. Here are four reasons memes should be part of your social media content.
Memes Are Inexpensive Content
Memes play off of content that's created by other people so you don't need to create an original video or photo yourself. They save small businesses and digital marketers time that would be needed to produce original content.
Instead, you can riff off of existing media by adding a new caption or twist. Also, memers value DIY, low-resolution content so don't worry if you have limited design skills.
Memes Support a Sense of Community
Memes are funny, and that helps foster community among your followers. They create a sense of belonging because your audience can relate to the situation you refer to and everyone's in on the same joke.
If you can make your audience laugh, you'll attract followers and help viewers relate to your brand. If your meme includes an absurd visual or catchy tune, brand recall improves.
Meme-Based Content Incites Shares
By definition, memes are supposed to be shared so the content is often reposted and re-memed across the internet to reach an even wider audience. When people send the meme to a friend for a laugh, they express allegiance to and advocate for your brand.
Memes Create/Support Brand Relevancy
Because memes are often related to a current trend or event, they make your brand more real, modern, and human. Memes appeal to contemporary or cultural events that your viewers know about, which feels authentic and fresh. This content serves to bring a community together around a common touchstone and makes your brand seem more relatable.
#1: Make Sure the Meme Matches Your Brand Voice
While most marketers know about memes that might appeal to their audience, it can be difficult to incorporate them while maintaining brand consistency.
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But as memes become more mainstream, even high-end lifestyle brands have begun experimenting with them to stay relevant and grow a following. Memes could expand your reach significantly, especially if your target buyer is a Millennial or younger.
Memes usually leverage satire, social commentary, or nostalgia, meaning a high-quality meme is both funny and insightful. Because memes can also be rude or offensive, marketers must walk a fine line when experimenting with meme marketing. You'll need to educate yourself on current memes.
The key is to be authentic and not overly conservative. Edgy content demonstrates that your brand has a personality and unique voice to set your company apart from bland commercial competitors.
Although memes can be divisive and won't appeal to everyone, they help support niche positioning and reach a specific community. When refining your tone, start by clearly defining your target persona:
- What content does your customer consume?
- What music, TV shows, or celebrities do they like?
- How can you delight and entertain them?
- What problems do they face that are common to their community?
Once you have an idea of the content your target persona is interested in, make relatable jokes and move quickly to comment on relevant fads and cultural trends. Committing to a subculture or niche is the goal, not the enemy, of good marketing.
Pro Tip: Many meme marketing attempts miss the mark because they're fundamentally structured as generic ads rather than cultural commentary. Successful memes don't include an action item; there's no “buy” or “subscribe” in the body.
But when your social media content delights and entertains those who interact with it, the content is more likely to be shared. Your brand can reach a wider audience, making it easier to generate leads and sales in the long run.
#2: Develop Your Meme Library
To develop a meme library of content, you can leverage existing memes or create your own.
Repurpose Existing Memes
Look through trending meme templates or viral videos, images, or GIFs, and then add an original caption.
You can also reimagine the dialogue from a popular GIF or movie scene. This method works well for first-time meme-makers because the format gives an outline for the joke.
When you add a funny caption, you spin the familiar piece of media to speak directly to your community, giving your followers a delightful moment. Viral YouTube videos often end up as memes, so keep an eye on highlights and funny moments from trending videos to source fresh content.
Here, Netflix uses the existing expanding brain meme to promote the popular show Riverdale.
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Netflix is often hailed as one of the best examples of meme use in social media marketing. In December 2018, the Netflix original film Bird Box went viral after memes from the film started cropping up on popular meme accounts. Meme marketing helped the movie get more than 70 million views in the first 24 hours.
Netflix continues to use a blend of mainstream meme formats that viewers recognize and original memes using Netflix content. Memes create a community for Netflix fans, turning a solitary activity (watching TV) into a social activity (engaging with memes).
Create Original Memes
Original content is a bit more challenging because you have to source material for the meme, decide on a format, and overlay some relatable commentary. It takes more time, energy, and creativity, but there's a higher chance that your content will be shared.
To illustrate, you can turn a funny clip that you accidentally catch into a short, looping video or GIF. For a physical product, try displaying it in unexpected use cases.
If you have a product that customers can easily take photos with, ask permission from your community to use their photos and videos. Alternatively, you and your team can film/shoot content yourself.
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating custom memes for your brand:
- Meme types: There are many different ways to create memes online, whether it's with photos, screenshots, videos, or GIFs. Experiment with them all and see what users react most strongly to!
- Fonts: Montserrat or Helvetica Neue are the standard meme fonts because Twitter uses this styling, but creators also use Arial, Comic Sans, and others in different contexts. Although it was popular 5 years ago, Impact font has gone out of fashion and tends to make memes look outdated.
- Style: Consider using emojis, rounded corners, and embedded text. Meme consumers are used to these visual elements and will recognize them immediately.
Animals are a popular subject in “wholesome” internet culture so dog-related brands can engage with that meme community without controversy. Also, people who own dogs tend to follow dog-related social media so Tooth & Honey's funny, shareworthy content attracts pet owners organically.
#3: How to Incorporate Memes in Your Social Media Content
For social media managers new to meme marketing, here's a list of ways to incorporate memes into your social media content:
React to a Recent Moment or Cultural Phenomenon
Post a reaction to something that's happening in real time like a random holiday (Chipotle's free burrito day) or a live event like the Women's World Cup.
Participate in Meme-Style Challenges
Castaway Clothing turned the Facebook #10YearChallenge to their benefit by comparing their new logo to their old one.
Screenshot a Tweet
Social media managers can create a quick joke by repurposing Twitter content for Instagram to set up a brand-related meme like me when I… meme or that feeling when… meme. Make sure you include the account name and Twitter handle of the original creator in your screenshot.
Repost Relevant User-Generated Memes
Because memes are by definition made to be shared, meme creators generally accept or even encourage others to repost their content. Marketers can regram and reshare memes directly, although double-check to make sure you're resharing legally!
Running World (298K+ Instagram followers) reposted a swear jar meme from smaller running accounts with attribution in the caption, giving the small publishers more exposure and the brand more good content.
Memes continue to grow in popularity; meme-related content is showing up across visual content platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, IGTV, LinkedIn, and Twitter. There are more people than ever creating and consuming memes online.
Many brands use memes as an effective vehicle for their marketing strategy. Like most creative processes, trust your instincts on humor. If you don't think a meme you've created is funny, interesting, or insightful, your customers probably won't either. Use your best judgment and know that the more memes you consume, the better you'll be at creating them. Go forth and meme!
What do you think? Will you consider using memes in your social media marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
More articles on social media marketing:
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- Discover 10 metrics worth tracking for your next marketing report.
- Find a step-by-step plan for developing a social media marketing strategy that works.
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