Memes have held a tight grip on social media since they were first popularized in the mid-2000s. They’re found in everything from casual Instagram posts to professional email blasts and just about everywhere in between. Memes are humorous pieces of content that usually feature an image, text, and some sort of pop culture reference. While memes often poke fun at something that’s trending in the media, they use humor to convey a message to a very specific audience.
When they first popped onto the scene, memes were used for personal engagement purposes, but as time’s gone on, they’ve found their way into the marketing space. Now, brands use memes for marketing themselves, piggybacking off of pop culture and social media trends to promote their brand.
If you’re not using memes in your marketing, now’s your chance. Here’s how your brand can level up its social media marketing strategy with these pop culture sensations.
What Are Memes?
Before we can dig into how you can use memes in your marketing efforts, let’s take a step back and talk about what they are. Memes are catchphrases, jokes, or concepts that usually come from pop culture references, such as TV shows or movies. Richard Dawkins coined the term in 1976 when he stated that audiences could quickly grab ahold of an idea and spread it around, just like genes can multiply.
Memes come in all forms, including images, videos, or plain text. Savvy marketers use a mix of all these to elicit responses and conversations online. Today’s social networks are the perfect places to transmit these cultural genes. If you create a meme that’s a hit with your audience, it can go viral almost instantly. The most successful memes often capture moments, thoughts, or feelings in visual, social media-friendly formats.
Why Use Memes in Marketing?
You want to expand your brand presence, right? After all, that’s largely the entire point of growing your social media platforms. The thing is, your followers crave funny, share-worthy content that they can relate to and re-share to their feeds. They’re willing to do the work for you if you just give them the right piece of content that gets their friends and followers talking.
Brand awareness aside, there are some other great reasons you should use memes in your marketing. Let’s take a look:
Memes Are Inexpensive to Produce
You don’t have to have a flashy, expensive graphic design studio to make a great meme. In fact, they require very basic tools and editing skills. Really, anyone can make a meme.
When you think about it, there’s a certain homespun charm to internet memes. They can easily be created online or even on your phone whenever the moment inspires you. Be mindful that you absolutely can use memes created by other people in your marketing campaigns. However, creating your own is always a best practice. After all, you don’t want to be known as a brand that isn’t creative enough to come up with your ideas.
There have been some really successful examples of companies monopolizing existing memes for their own marketing benefit, so it certainly can work! (This is called memejacking.)
Usually, the hardest part of creating a meme is twofold: staying on top of cultural trends and coming up with a witty tagline that’s memorable and resonates with your audience.
They’re Relevant and Relatable
The secret to successful memes is designing them around trends and current pop culture events. While you always want content to be relatable, this is especially true with memes. Your audience shouldn’t have to think too hard about what you’re referencing. Create memes that are relevant to the current social media climate, and keep up with what’s trending. This is especially true for younger audiences and avid social media users.
Memes Are Great for Engagement
Memes often rely on comedy, so when users come into contact with something that makes them laugh, they’ll naturally want to engage with it and share it with others. Whether you’re promoting a sale, teasing a new drop, or just trying to get your followers excited about or re-engaged with your brand, memes are your go-to.
Don’t forget, however, that you’re using your memes for marketing purposes, so you’ll still want to ensure they tie into your brand’s mission and values. Since there are already millions of memes out there, you’ll need to put a little work in to make sure you’re standing out from the crowd.
They Show The “Human Side” of Your Business
When brands use memes, they’re putting out the memo of, “Hey, we’re people, too.” It shows your audience you’re engaged with the same content and trends they are. Mutual interests, especially when spiced up with a little humor, really unite the customer with the business on a more personal level. Plus, customers appreciate your efforts to connect with them.
Memes don’t always have to be funny. They can also be thought-provoking and insightful. Often, it feels like the safer thing to do to lean into the funnier, lighter side of the internet, but a little philosophy can go far in the right circumstance, too.
The key is to be genuine to your brand and not overly cautious. When you present edgy content, you demonstrate that your brand has a personality and unique voice that helps set you apart from bland competitors. Don’t be afraid to take risks, so long as they aren’t offensive or tone-deaf.
Memes Can Enhance Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Rankings
You can use your memes in more places than just social media posts. If you include them in your blogs, for example, you’ll create more engaging content that keeps readers on your pages longer and encourages shares. When you reduce your bounce rate and earn links back to your pages, Google and the other search engines take notice and will likely reward your efforts by putting your pages in front of more people in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Brace Yourself: ZGM Is Coming
Need help making memes that really get your audience talking (and sharing)? We’re here to help! At Zero Gravity Marketing, our social media superstars are the experts in all things memes! With the knowledge and experience we’ve gained over years of helping companies boost brand awareness and relate to their audiences, we’re the secret to a social media marketing strategy that covers all the bases. To learn more about our marketing services, contact us.