Meme is a term you hear quite frequently in the online world, especially in social media circles. It is predominantly used by those that have grown up with the internet — hyper-connected millennials and their successors, Gen Z.
The term meme came from Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, as a method of depicting a trend or cultural idea that spreads and grows in popularity. Similar to GIFs, memes are a way of visually relaying a message or a catchy joke, many which are recognized worldwide.
Examples of this would be The Success Kid, Grumpy Cat, or The Most Interesting Man In The World. They have all been used over and over in different situations to communicate with others, usually in a humorous way.
Memes – Best Practices for Marketing
As a business person, if you are planning a marketing campaign and are considering using a meme to convey a message, you might want to think again. You have to contemplate what information you are trying to get across to your viewers.
If you are marketing to the younger generation, they may be completely turned off by your attempt to get their attention in such a obvious way.
You may have the best of intentions, but the subculture of people who spend a lot of time on the internet would see right through it. Use a meme sparingly and don’t force it into your content or you may come across like you are just trying to benefit from the trend.
In this post, the number one key when using a meme is to understand your audience and whether or not it is appropriate in conjunction with your brand:
How To (And How Not To) Use Memes For Online Marketing
First, you need to know that memes aren’t for everybody. They’re most appealing to young adults who spend considerable time on the Internet, so they might be seen as juvenile or otherwise misunderstood by other audiences. Similarly, most memes take the form of playful, tongue-in-cheek jokes. If your brand is playful and energetic, this is a good thing, but if you want your brand to be seen as stoic, conservative, and traditionally professional, memes could easily work against your brand image. Consider your brand and your audience carefully before pursuing this strategy.
Read the full post here: How To (And How Not To) Use Memes For Online Marketing
Even before the internet, there were many different memes created that went viral. Leonardo Dicaprio toasting is fairly recent (The Great Gatsby in 2012), but there have been memes for many years in magazines and newspapers, mostly in the form of cartoons or political satire.
A couple good examples are Alfred E. Neuman from Mad magazine fame and Kilroy was Here from World War II.
This video discusses the history of memes. It is done by a young YouTube star who creates videos about history and blends it with current topics:
I had no idea that you could study memes in college, but that shows you how much of our culture they have become. Is it a permanent trend? I believe that as technology continues to advance, so will our memes.
Why? Because almost everyone likes a good joke and that’s what most memes are all about…making people laugh.
One problem with basing too much of your marketing campaign on memes is that they can be offensive and fizzle out quickly. Social media is a huge reason they continue to be popular, but also the reason they can have a short lifespan.
This post gives some good tips on using memes in social media:
Marketing Memes: Do They Work?
Memes Produce Immediate Reactions
This can be good or really bad. Because memes rely so much on humor, it’s somewhat easy to miss the mark or come off inappropriate or insensitive. As you know with anything involving the Internet, there’s plenty of offensive viral content on the Web. But as a social marketer, you have to be careful not to damage your brand in attempts of going viral. Memes produce immediate reactions because they are:
- Easy to read
- Simple to digest
- To the point
- Aim for the quick laugh
See the full post here: Marketing Memes: Do They Work?
The more original you can be with graphics and videos the better. The image macro has been used to death and with the sheer volume of weird videos and funny pictures with text available on the internet, it’s not original any longer.