Meme marketing: how to make memes part of your marketing strategy
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
- Content: At the heart of every meme is its content. This can be an image, a video clip, a block of text, or a combination of these elements. Memes often rely on familiar and easily recognizable visuals or references from popular culture, which make them relatable to a wide audience.
- Caption/Text: Memes often include a caption or text overlay that provides context, humor, or commentary related to the content. The text is usually concise, witty, and plays a crucial role in delivering the meme's message or punchline.
- Visual style: Memes often have a consistent visual style or format that makes them instantly recognizable. This might include using specific fonts, colors, or layouts that are associated with a particular meme template.
- Cultural references: Memes frequently draw on cultural references — like iconic movie scenes, historical events, or internet trends — to create humor or commentary that resonates with the audience.
- Emotion or tone: Memes convey a range of emotions or tones, from humor and satire to frustration and empathy. The choice of content and text should align with the intended emotional impact.
- Shareability: Memes are designed to be easily shared on social media platforms and in other online spaces. They are often spread virally as users share, remix, and adapt them to fit different contexts.
- Internet communities: Many memes are specific to particular internet communities or subcultures. They can serve as inside jokes or references that only members of those communities fully understand.
- Evolution: Memes are not static; they evolve over time as people create variations, remixes, and parodies. The best memes are adaptable and can stay relevant even as the cultural landscape changes.
- Engagement: Memes thrive on engagement. They encourage likes, comments, shares, and discussions, often becoming a focal point for online conversations.
- Impact: Memes can have a real-world impact by shaping public opinion, spreading information, or even influencing politics and popular culture. They have become a powerful tool for communication in the digital age.
- Additional graphics: In addition to the core components, memes can include additional graphics like logos and website addresses. These elements may be added to promote a brand, website, or specific message and are integrated into the meme's visual design.
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.
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.
- Consider the current meme landscape: Explore popular and trending images that are making waves on the internet. These visuals have already gained traction, and by repurposing them with your unique spin, you can tap into their existing popularity.
- Seek inspiration in successful memes: Take a look at memes that have gone viral and examine what makes them click with like-audiences. This analysis can help you understand the visual elements that appeal to your target demographic.
- Examine your competitors' memes and content shared by your audience: By studying what your competitors are doing and what your audience is sharing, you can gain insights into the types of images that resonate with your target market.
- Identify your audience's preferences: Understand what your audience finds relatable and appealing in terms of imagery. Tailor your image selection to match their tastes and interests.
- Ensure image alignment with your brand: Your chosen images should align with your brand's identity and values. Consistency in visual style helps reinforce brand recognition.
- Consider creating or selecting new images: If existing images don't quite fit your message, consider creating your own visuals or selecting images that perfectly convey your intended meme.
- Decide if you want to create a meme in response to something specific: Timely memes, like those related to national news events or product releases, can capture the current zeitgeist and gain attention.
- Stay alert to copyright issues: When selecting images, be mindful of copyright and usage rights. Always use images that you have the legal right to use or seek proper permissions.
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:
- Avoid text that covers up key points in the image: Make sure your text complements the image rather than obscuring it. It should enhance the humor or message, not detract from it.
- Choose easily readable text: Opt for fonts and styles that are legible, even at a glance. Clarity ensures that your audience can quickly grasp your meme's message.
- Infuse humor into your text: Humor is a powerful tool in meme marketing. Craft witty captions or text overlays that tickle the funny bone and resonate with your audience.
- Show self- or brand-awareness: Memes that playfully acknowledge your brand or the meme format itself encourage relatability and engagement.
- Stay alert to copyrights: When using text, as with images, be mindful of copyright issues and usage rights. Ensure you have the legal right to use any text or quotes included in your meme.
- Decide on the inclusion and placement of your logo: Determine whether you'll incorporate your logo into the meme and, if so, whether it will be a subtle watermark or more prominently featured.
- Consider adding other graphics to your meme: Emojis, frames, or other graphical elements can enhance the visual appeal of your meme and reinforce the intended message.
- Choose the right platform for your meme: Broad memes are well-suited for general social media channels, while very niche memes may find a more receptive audience on specialized platforms or communities.
- Evaluate whether certain memes are best shared on your website: Memes that are highly specific to your brand or audience might be more effective when posted on your website or landing pages.
- Schedule memes for optimal engagement: Timing matters. Post memes at times and on days when your audience is most active to maximize their reach and impact.
- Ensure your message is relevant to your brand: The text should align with your brand's identity and messaging, creating a seamless connection between your meme and your business.
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.