December 2, 2014
By: Zulfa Rizqiya @rizqibusiness
If you’re an avid social media user, chances are you’ve come across a fair share of memes, whether through your Facebook newsfeed, Twitter timeline or the occasional Buzzfeed article.
What exactly is a meme? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a meme as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within culture.” While memes are most well known as image macros – that is images superimposed with text for a humorous effect – they can also include viral videos, GIFs and even hashtags.
There are many reasons why you should consider integrating memes within your marketing content:
- They’re easy to produce. With the most popular memes comprising just a few words of text printed over an image, memes can be generated quickly.
- They’re easy to share. Every major social network supports image and video files – some even support GIFs. With a click of a button, memes can be shared across a variety of platforms, ultimately spreading market content.
- They’re already viral. Latching on to a meme, or “memejacking” can bring attention to your brand by entering it into a trending conversation.
- They’re relatable and show personality. By using humor your brand can demonstrate it knows how to have fun, ultimately establishing a connection with the audience.
On the surface, memes seem simple. But before you’re quick to generate and share them, consider the following tips:
- Understand the context. Nothing makes your audience roll their eyes quite like a misused meme. Websites such as Knowyourmeme are great references.
- Know your audience. On a similar note, nothing makes humor fly over the heads your audience quite like an unfamiliar meme. The memes that saturate the web are generally targeted at a young demographic.
- Time is of the essence. The shelf life of a meme can range from a couple of years to only a few days, so if you’re memejacking to be relevant, do it as soon as possible.
- Don’t stray from your brand’s voice. Memes can be silly and contain skewed grammar for the sake of humor. Make sure the humor fits into your brand’s voice and reputation.
When employed correctly, memes can give your business a serious boost. The following companies are great examples of how to use memes effectively:
Since 2009, Wonderful Pistachios enlisted countless Internet memes and viral celebrities in the company’s ads, including Keyboard Cat and “Gangnam Style” singer PSY, to demonstrate how they crack open a pistachio. The brand has honed the skill of integrating pop culture without being derivative, ultimately gaining credibility and cultural relevance.
16-year-old Alex LaBeouf, more popularly known as #AlexFromTarget, became the Internet’s newest favorite meme overnight after a picture of the Target checkout clerk was posted on Twitter. Because of the apparent rarity of seeing someone mildly attractive work in retail, the picture rapidly circulated amongst Twitter users and spawned several other memes. Wasting no time, Target responded to the situation with a simple, yet effective tweet. Because of the power of a meme, this tweet is Target’s most popular tweet to date.
However, not all companies have had success with memes. If you’re planning on using memes in the future, don’t make the same mistakes the following companies did:
Kia took a different approach to memejacking by teaming up with Cheezburger, Inc., a meme database company, for a campaign called “Season’s Memeing.” The contest encouraged fans to generate memes for Kia for a chance to win a gift certificate. However, the campaign was a failure as every submission received more downvotes than upvotes from Cheezburger users and the Kia-based memes lost the context of the original, humorous memes.
FAFSA received an onslaught of criticism after sending out a tweet, which featured the “Help Me, I’m Poor” meme from the movie Bridesmaids. While FAFSA understood that their target audience is a young demographic, the financial aid account strayed from the standards of the U.S. Department of Education by making a joke out of a hardship. The tweet has since been removed and FAFSA issued an apology.
Memes can be a great way of encouraging interaction amongst your users and exposing your content to a greater audience beyond your pre-existing one. While memes should be employed in a timely manner, it is crucial not to rush and overlook the context of a meme and whether it serves relevance to your brand.