Mar 2019

The internet is flooded with a multitude of memes, and sharing them and tagging friends on a regular basis has become #FriendshipGoals. What is a meme you may ask? It is basically an image, video, gif or an idea, typically humorous in nature, that spreads across the Internet. And memes that start to trend, spread like wildfire and are popularly known. This makes them viral content pieces — an obvious tool that marketers would want to leverage for their own advantage.

To get a better understanding of how marketers can use memes, let’s first understand why people love them. Memes are easily consumable, grab your attention, are funny and easy to share and everyone can relate to them in an instant. The most successful memes are the ones that resonate with a large audience; they may be about a trending topic that’s in the news or even trivial day-to-day problems that we all experience but don’t share.

Memes essentially play off the popular culture of feeding into everyone’s need to “be in the loop”. Above all, memes are funny because they can be a momentary escape from everything going on in one’s life and sometimes we all just need a good laugh.

In a digital environment however, memes have a specific connotation and what makes them so special is their way of communicating attitudes, feelings and situations. Even though they are not seen as serious pieces of content, if used in the right way, memes can be used to attract customers by leveraging their virality.

When executed successfully, meme marketing can help brands connect with their customers on a personal level which will make them more willing to engage with the brand. Mainly because memes aren’t overly promotional and they give people a good laugh with a subtle reference to your brand.

A few things to keep in mind while diving into meme marketing would be to:

  • Ensure that the content has entertainment value and is not just self-promotion. Nobody wants to see branded content on their feed.
  • Keep the messaging simple and easy to understand
  • Use memes that are relevant and haven’t been over-done. Be original!
  • T & T — Timeliness and Timelessness. If you want your meme to have a good response, you have to make sure it’s either Timely — relevant and in sync with what everyone is talking about, or that it is timeless wherein its relevancy is not affected by the passage of time and is relatable at all times.

A good example of a brand that cleverly fed into a timeless debate on whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables, is Heinz. In order to increase brand awareness and engagement on social media, Heinz partnered with and created a brilliant campaign. Be it the famous blue and black vs gold and white dress or laurel vs yanny, getting people to debate over a subject brings attention to it, and Heinz understood that and leveraged it really well. Their campaign creatives included graphics that read “We can send a car into space, but can’t figure out if a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable.” and they asked people pick sides using hashtags.

In addition to crossing 80,000 total engagements across Facebook and Instagram, Heinz received over 4 million impressions, which was four times their goal.

While experimenting with meme marketing, brands must, however, ensure that they fully understand a meme before using it. The content that they put out must be original and actually funny. Marketers must know that the meanings of memes change over time and you don’t want to end up using a meme that was once funny but is now offensive.

If done right, meme marketing can increase your brand’s reach and influence, all while giving your audiences a good laugh. We at Happy Marketer are giving it a shot as well.

Bird Box holds one of the top positions on the list of movies that got popular because of the memes surrounding it. Whether they poked fun at the storyline itself or used the blindfold imagery to joke about selective sight, the Bird Box memes broke the internet. We decided to use its popularity and virality, and give it a digital marketer’s twist focusing on the importance of Google Analytics.

Here’s yet another in-house meme that became a hit with the audiences and clients alike. This meme was published 2 days after the Oscars which ensured its timeliness. By highlighting the chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper who had become the talk of the town, we tried to focus on the shared joy between agencies and clients when they hit those digital milestones. We try our hand at meme marketing every now and then, do share your thoughts on them!

Pansy Pinto