Meme marketing: how to make memes part of your marketing strategy

7 different memes scattered around a green gradient background

Memes are a prominent part of internet culture and an effective way to communicate with your customers. As a result, memes have also become a popular tool for marketers looking to reach their target audience.

Incorporating memes into your digital marketing strategy can help you connect with your audience in a fun and relatable way, especially if you are hoping to reach Millennials or Gen Z. The key is to use memes strategically and thoughtfully — not only to entertain on the right note, but also to avoid coming across as inauthentic or insensitive.

In this article, we'll explain just what memes are, share tips for using them in your social media marketing strategy to better connect with your audience, and examine some successful meme marketing campaigns.



What is a meme?

A meme is a cultural element that is shared and spread across the internet. Commonly taking the form of images, videos, text, or other media, memes typically convey funny, satirical, or relatable messages that carry a specific cultural reference or joke. As they are shared online, memes can evolve and adapt as they are modified by users.

History of the word “meme”

The term "meme" was first coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene." Dawkins used the word to describe cultural ideas and practices that spread from person to person, much like genes. He combined the Greek word "mimeme," meaning something imitated, with "gene" to create the term "meme."

According to Dawkins, memes are "our ideas, ideals, cultures, and customs [that] replicate themselves. Almost like a virus, they travel from person to person through imitation, sharing, and repetition."

This definition has since been widely adopted and expanded upon, leading to the creation and proliferation of internet memes in the digital age.

Components of a meme

A meme is often in the form of images, videos, or text, and typically carries a humorous or satirical message. Several key components work together to convey an idea or message effectively:

Using memes for marketing

In the era of digital media, memes have become a potent and unconventional tool for digital marketing. Leveraging the power of humor, relatability, and virality, businesses and brands have tapped into the meme culture to connect with their target audiences on a deeper level.

In this section, we'll explore how memes can be strategically employed in marketing campaigns to increase brand visibility, engage with customers, and generate buzz in an ever-evolving online landscape.

Why memes are a smart, effective addition to a campaign

Memes have become a popular addition to marketing campaigns because of their low cost, ease of creation, and shareability. Memes are easy to read and understand, making them a great way to connect with younger audiences. Additionally, because they are free to make, they are an excellent content marketing tool for startups or small businesses. They are also incredibly shareable, meaning your content can reach a wider audience of potential customers, creating opportunities for higher engagement. And if you can create a viral meme, you’ve struck gold.

Memes also provide an opportunity for brands to showcase their human side through humor. By creating or sharing memes that are funny and relatable, brands can build their brand voice and connect with their audience on a personal level. Additionally, feedback and customer response to memes are immediate, allowing brands to quickly adjust their strategy based on audience response.

Memes are a popular form of social media content marketing that reflects your brand is up to date with current trends. By creating or sharing memes that are relevant to your brand, you can make or support brand relevance and increase engagement with your audience. Overall, memes are a smart and effective addition to any marketing campaign.

Making memes that will be meaningful to your audience

When it comes to creating memes that will be meaningful to your audience, steer clear of content that is too generic. Instead, focus on what your audience is watching or listening to and what will entertain or engage them. This may involve referencing popular TV shows, movies, or music that your target demographic is likely to be familiar with. Make sure to stay current with popular meme formats and meme trends so you can capitalize on potential opportunities – the lifespan of popular memes varies, so stay up to date.

Pop culture is a great starting point for creating memes that will resonate with your audience. Aligning memes with your target audience creates content that speaks directly to it. This could involve referencing current events or trends that are popular within your niche.

Another key factor when creating effective memes is to ensure that the humor or message is appropriate and ties in with your brand values. Memes that are offensive or inappropriate can quickly backfire and damage your brand's reputation. Try to create funny memes that are relatable and relevant to your target audience.

Finally, it's important to experiment with different formats and styles to find what works best for your audience. Try out different meme templates, captions, and visual elements to see what generates the most engagement and shares. Play around with a meme generator to create different iterations of your original memes. By taking the time to create memes that are meaningful to your audience, you can create meme marketing campaigns that are both entertaining and effective.

Examples of successful meme marketing campaigns

Meme-based campaigns harness the humor and relatability of memes to connect with customers on a personal level, generating significant attention and buzz.

In this section, we will explore some of the most successful meme-based marketing campaigns and what made them effective.


BarkBox is a great example of a company that has successfully used memes for marketing purposes in their social media posts. They take common concepts and apply them to their brand message with a humorous touch, creating content that is both entertaining and shareable.

Additionally, BarkBox brilliantly capitalizes on our culture's love of dogs. By incorporating cute and funny dog images into their memes, they are able to connect with their target audience on an emotional level.

One of their most successful campaigns was their "Dog Mood Swings" campaign. They created a series of memes that humorously portrayed the changing moods of dogs, aligning perfectly with the relatable experiences of pet owners.

The campaign resonated with their audience because it tapped into the universal love and understanding people have for their furry companions. By using humor and empathy, BarkBox not only entertained but also reinforced its brand's connection with dog lovers, creating a memorable and shareable campaign that enhanced customer engagement and loyalty. The success here lies in its ability to evoke laughter while showcasing a deep understanding of its target audience's emotions and experiences.

BarkBox's meme marketing strategy demonstrates how effectively humor and an understanding of audience interests can drive engagement and promote brand loyalty.


Netflix successfully used memes for marketing by digging into their extensive library of social media-friendly images and upcycling them to fit their image, creating content that is both funny and on-brand.

By flooding social media with memes that included images from their own productions, Netflix generated interest and familiarity with their content, triggering more views. This is known as content seeding, and it is a smart way to promote new releases and generate buzz around the brand.

One of their most successful campaigns was the "Bird Box" challenge, which capitalized on the viral trend of people attempting to do everyday tasks while blindfolded. By creating memes that referenced the movie and the challenge, Netflix was able to generate significant buzz and engagement on social media.

Overall, Netflix's use of memes and content seeding has been a smart and effective way to promote its brand and generate interest in its content.


McDonald's achieved success with their meme marketing campaigns by pulling from their extensive collection of both famous lines and iconic imagery and marrying them with fun pop culture concepts, creating content that’s both relatable and entertaining for their target audience.

One of their most popular campaigns was the "Travis Scott Meal," which capitalized on the popularity of the rapper and his favorite McDonald's order. By creating memes that referenced the meal and Travis Scott's music, McDonald's was able to generate significant buzz and engagement on social media.

Additionally, McDonald's uses memes to promote their seasonal menu items, like the Shamrock Shake. By creating memes that reference the iconic green drink, McDonald's has been able to generate excitement and anticipation for the shake’s return each year.

McDonald’s strategically mixes their products with relevant pop culture, shaping a powerful meme strategy. By using familiar meme templates paired with their own text and graphics, they can make any meme relevant to their products.

Design tips for successful memes

Creating a successful marketing meme requires more than just a funny image and clever captions. To be effective, memes must be brand and audience relevant and designed in a way that is visually appealing and easy to read.

In this section, we will explore some design tips for creating memes that are both entertaining and effective for your marketing campaigns.

Choosing images

Images lie at the heart of meme creation, and selecting the right one is paramount to your meme marketing success. From repurposing popular and trending images to finding inspiration in existing memes, your choice of visuals can make or break your meme marketing strategy. Here's how to choose the perfect images that will resonate with your brand and audience.

The images you choose for your marketing memes play a pivotal role in conveying your message and engaging your audience. Carefully select visuals that tie in with your brand, appeal to your audience's preferences, and tap into the current meme culture to create memes that leave a lasting impact and drive your marketing efforts to success.

Using the right text

Text is a vital element in meme creation, shaping the message and impact of your meme. The right choice of words can make your meme stand out and connect with your audience. Here's how to use the right text in your marketing memes:

Once you have created your own meme, consider what caption you want to add before posting. Make sure to use search engine optimization (SEO) best practices when creating your caption. Crafting effective text for your marketing memes involves thoughtful considerations of readability, humor, copyright compliance, platform suitability, and alignment with your brand. Strike the right balance for memes that resonate with your audience and reinforce your marketing message.

Memes are a dynamic and influential tool in the world of marketing, offering a unique way to engage audiences, spread messages, and strengthen brand recognition. Through the power of humor, relatability, and cultural relevance, you can leverage memes to connect with your target audience on a deeper, more individualized level. As meme culture continues to evolve, incorporate these shareable, humorous, and relatable visuals into your marketing strategy so your brand stays current, relevant, and memorable.

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