Is ‘Meme Marketing’ a thing, and does it deserve our attention?

Good Guy Greg. Success Kid. Grumpy Cat. Any of these ringing a bell? If not, where have you been all these years? These are just a handful of the memes that have helped shape the wacky and wonderful world of the ‘internet’.

And I’m not talking about the internet as a ‘global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide.’ (Thanks Wikipedia) No, I’m talking about the ‘internet’ as a community. As the primary mode of consuming media across the western world, jokes, trends, movements and indeed memes are borne of the ‘internet’ community, spreading like wildfire across social media platforms.

It’s worth pointing out that meme’s have become a language in their own right, a manner of sharing ideas and values that strike a common chord with the community it is intended with. In fact, common memes often find themselves used across interests, sectors and industries, as a commonly understood (and fun) way of sharing collective thoughts and emotions. As an established consumer language, should marketers be paying attention to meme culture.

So, should you be paying attention?

Simple answer, yes, yes you should. In fact, all businesses should be fully aware of the latest trends and movements being shared via meme culture. Popular memes come and go at a frightening pace and viral content can emerge from the strangest of sources, but the collectively known ‘internet’ give these sometimes-downright bizarre content pieces life and make them an important part of the media we consume.

A more arrogant approach would be to assume that these content sources shouldn’t find themselves associated with brands and are simply a fad bandied around by the ‘Facebook-generation’. To some extent, there is truth in this school of thought, memes just don’t work for certain brands. More ‘grown-up’ brands that might have a highly affluent, business focused audience bases don’t necessarily lend themselves to memes, and marketers would be foolish to shoehorn them in. Equally though, no one should discount them. Brands such as Game have been making good use of existing memes, growing reach and engagements

It doesn’t have to be original…

One trap that many marketers may find themselves in is the search for original content Utopia for all social media marketers is to create original viral content that works towards brand goals. Meme culture however is built around the recycling of established ideas to share important messages, and their popularity is based on individuals and businesses following the current meme trends and ‘keeping the buzz’ going.

For that reason, marketers shouldn’t make originality their goal as much as staying on top of the most recent trends. A meme that is performing well, or is super relevant is a marketers best friend, and it doesn’t take much browsing to find the most popular memes. Following that, brands need only find an original spin on the established meme to align it with their business goals.

Starting a meme from scratch can be a difficult, as its hard to forecast the content that will really resonate with audiences (case in point, the bizarre, but somehow still funny Charlie the Unicorn). However, there are rules you can follow to give you a fighting chance:

  • Don’t be too serious – Most memes are successful because they are silly, so don’t be afraid to embrace your daft side.
  • Be timely – Memes often react to events, politics, pop culture, sports and a host of other subjects, so its always good to be on top of what is happening in the world.
  • Speak like your audience – Don’t be afraid to embrace meme culture, your memes will stand out for all the wrong reasons if you are not in touch with the language of memes and social media.
  • Have fun – Memes are supposed to be fun, if you’re having fun making them, you’re audience will have fun viewing them.

Memes aren’t going away anytime soon and ‘the internet’ loves them, so why not get involved?

If you’d like to discuss your social media strategy or how you can make the most of meme marketing, get in touch with the Heybridge team today, we’d be happy to help.

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