Whether you’re aware of them or not, marketing memes are everywhere online these days. Brands are creating their own memes—even in security, data center, and other high-tech sectors. As a marketing professional, are you taking advantage of these short form visuals?
First off, what is a meme?
A meme (rhymes with “dream”) is an image, video, or most often a combination of an image overlaid with text that is shared across social media networks. A meme typically references a popular cultural symbol, icon, or concept. Frequently, although not always, memes are humorous in nature.
Perhaps you’re familiar with Evil Kermit
In a nod to Star Wars, Kermit faces off against his hooded, evil self while having an inner dialogue between his good and bad impulses. It went viral because it struck an emotional chord most everyone can relate to. People keep repurposing and reposting Evil Kermit, adding their own text to the image.
But marketing memes?
Absolutely. When cleverly created marketing memes hold enormous potential to broaden and engage your audience. Here are a few key reasons to consider memes as part of your overall marketing strategy:
- They’re already viral. Memes are highly shareable content. Because they exist as images or videos, they are supported across major social media networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instgram, and Twitter. This makes them astonishingly easy to share, even across platforms.
- They’re low cost and easy to create. Once you’ve nailed your message and creative approach, memes are quick to create because of their simplistic nature. They’re also low cost. Post it to your social media pages and, if your meme resonates, your audience will spread the message for you… for FREE.
- They make your brand relatable; particularly to millennials. As marketers we’re always looking for ways to engage with our audience. Memes—especially if they’re humorous—are a way to make an emotional connection with your viewers, particular if they’re younger.
- The best marketing memes accomplish three things:
1. They tie in with your corporate brand.
2. They are timely and have a pulse on what’s happening now.
3. They are good-natured and do not offend anyone.
Here are examples from brands that are “getting it right”:
This Valentine’s Day Airbnb, an online marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world, posted this light-hearted meme playing off the romance of the holiday and a famous movie quote; all while promoting their core business.
When the breakup of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt made headlines, Norwegian Airlines quickly seized the opportunity to post a clever marketing meme showcasing their cheap flights to LA and their good sense of humor (GSOH).
Who can forget the Great Dress Debate of 2015? The world never really decided what color that dress was, but this cultural phenomena tied in perfectly with this brand’s key messaging.
Marketing memes can also promote good will for your brand.
Visa and Mentos
When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling to uphold the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, some companies took the time to recognize this historic decision with poignant messages in the form of memes.
Visa, played off their well-known tagline, “Everywhere You Want To Be” to create the “Love. Accepted Everywhere” marketing meme.
And Mentos’ “two of the same is beautiful” meme struck just the right tone.
Certainly, knowing your target audience well goes a long way in developing relevant memes for your brand. But with the right message and imagery, memes are a way to employ social media to humanize your company, and perhaps even broaden your reach.
What is a Meme, Lifewire.com, Paul Gil, November 30, 2016
Viral Memes Blur Lines Between Cute Videos And Savvy Marketing, CBC News, Dianne Buckner, May 23, 2016
Why Certain Things Go Viral, HBR Video, January 11, 2016
5 Insanely Clever Marketing Campaigns That Went Viral, Waterfall.com, Krissy DeAngelis on September 1, 2015