The last decade has witnessed a significant shift when it comes to brands’ social media presence. Now, brands no longer wish to present themselves as polished and formal on social media and are striving to attain a more human-like and personalised image. The objective now is to boost following by leveraging relatable and entertaining content that resonates with their audience.
This has taken shape as a response to a very significant problem – how to showcase your products or services to the audience who gets repelled by ads? This relatable content with a subtle integration of the brand works well in this scenario and makes your content more shareable amongst your audience. This is why brands are understanding that memes are more than just topicality and making them a considerable part of their ongoing marketing budgets.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through memes. Meme marketing is a subset of viral marketing and has evolved as one of the most successful modes of advertising, communication, and engaging with the target audiences without seeming salesy. Also, as we have seen in the past, memes drive everything that goes viral, be it the #IceBucketChallenge #TheSuccessKid, or the latest one to hop on to the bandwagon, #BINOD.
Leveraging memes on social media has now become an integral part of marketing budgets for brands to appear relevant online. Brands are also using popular meme pages across social media platforms to garner a relevant audience.
Memes have proven their effectiveness as a marketing tool by emerging as the most viral creative format. Millennials are somewhat averse to overtly promotional content and ads. Brands who are depending on these groups for the majority of their sales can find themselves at an impasse if they pursue the traditional forms of content marketing to try and appeal to this particular demographic. Memes, on the other hand, have carved a special place for themselves in the lives of millennials. In fact, an average millennial look and twenty to thirty memes in a day and also tends to share them with their friend groups.
Another thing that makes memes an excellent marketing tool is a provision of leveraging meme pages and reaching out to a wider audience base. It’s not surprising that 38% of millennials follow meme accounts on social media. After all, memes have become the catalyst for all the things that millennials stand for.
Another advantage of using memes is that they are much more cost-effective than a variety of other means of advertising. Meme marketing can be up to sixty percent cheaper than influencer marketing making them a high- ROI yielding option. Moreover, paid memes garner engagement rates of about 30% across Facebook and Instagram, far above the rates of 1%-15% seen for an influencer or branded content posts, making them a win-win choice.
Current meme trends
1. The 2020 Challenge, aka, Reese Witherspoon Challenge charts out the emotional journey over the past 8-9 months.
2. My Plans // 2020 highlights what you thought your year was going to be in a photo, followed by how it turned out.
3. Binod trend originated with a person named “Binod Thakur” commenting his name “Binod” under YouTube comments.
Brands riding the meme wave
Many major brands have hopped on the bandwagon of meme marketing. To put this statement into context, here are three of the major propagators of meme marketing that have carried out this strategy in stride.
1. Netflix India turned a clip from their trending show Indian Matchmaking into a relatable meme.
2. Fevicol used subtle humour for creating a brand connect with a meme.
3. Prime Video promoted its show with a relatable meme on avoiding spoilers.
Get started with memes
The first step to getting started with meme marketing is identifying and analysing your target audience. Known for their catchy & self relatable humour, memes help establish emotional connection with the audience. Moreover, memes help in amplifying your message organically without force-feeding an advertisement to your target audience. However, to be able to do that, you need to be aware of the kind of content that sparks interest in your audience and identify the kind of memes that they’ll enjoy.
One way to jump on board is through Memejacking. Memejacking refers to the practice of reusing or hijacking popular memes while integrating your brand message. However, this can be a tricky business and requires caution. To leverage an existing meme effectively, you need to keep an open eye to know what’s trending. This can incite shares, reach a wider audience, and help build advocacy for the brand.
A few other effective options include starting a viral meme or reacting to ongoing moment trends and formats. Popularity for memes as a marketing tool goes up significantly ahead of festive seasons and other topical days making them an excellent tool for moment marketing.
Another essential thing to note is that memes can have a limited lifespan. This is why it is important to stay updated with the latest trends and use trending hashtags to make the most of the limited life span of memes. Aside from this, it is advisable to utilise digital native lingo to make these memes more relatable to the younger audience who is more likely to interact with them.
Maintain brand connect
Having said this, one thing you must keep in mind while leveraging memes in your social marketing strategy is that no matter what, they should be in sync with your brand values, brand elements, and brand aura. While it is important to follow the trends while leveraging meme marketing, you must not deviate from the value your brand stands for.
Needless to say, since these memes are reaching out to the audience your brand caters to, it is essential that the memes are constructed understanding the target audiences’ psyche, thought process & tolerance levels. This will help in creating memes that they will enjoy seeing.
While adopting an already trending meme, it is not advisable to deviate much from the template aesthetics to ensure relatability. However, this should be done keeping the brand value system in mind.
Missteps to avoid
While memes are the current big thing in the digital marketing world, it can be very easy to go wrong with them. However, there are a few missteps that brands can steer clear off, to ensure smooth sailing for their meme marketing strategy.
The first thing to ensure is that you’re creating memes in good taste by avoiding destructive criticism or below the belt digs, attacks on gender, or race. In other words, your strategy must be inclusive and considerate towards the sentiments of not just your audience but the larger community.
Aside from this, you need to ensure that your memes aren’t overly promotional or contain ‘in-your-face’ branded communications. What makes memes unique and more effective than conventional ads is their very sharable nature. Making memes overly promotional will strip them off this very property.
Meme wars have become incredibly popular in this day and age. While it can be harmless to indulge in a healthy meme war, brands must be careful not to hurt customer sentiments.
Effective and appropriate distribution is incredibly important for the success of your meme marketing strategy. The most popular and effective distribution channels these days are meme pages. These pages can be utilised to enhance the reach of your meme marketing campaign. They have a loyal and active audience that is ready to consume the kind of content that is produced by those pages. Having a subtle integration of your brand on the memes shared on these pages can significantly increase the reach of your campaign.
Memes are also becoming a seamless part of influencer marketing and can be used to create the perfect social media cocktail & strengthen the influencer campaign. Aside from this, memes are also being used extensively in omnichannel marketing, making them popular amongst all demographics. They are also the go-to tool for viral marketing considering the humor and simplicity that encompasses memes.
Memes have undoubtedly become an inseparable part of social media. With their sharable properties and simple yet humorous characteristics, memes have established a unique and indispensable space for themselves. By following the above-mentioned steps and leveraging these insights, brands can ideate, create, and distribute memes effectively and accelerate their social media efforts with the help of meme marketing.