If you are here, chances are, you have seen a meme. In fact, you probably see at least one meme every day – on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even WhatsApp!
But why are memes so popular?
Memes make people laugh. It’s as simple as that. Pictures and videos of regular people or animals overlain with funny or sarcastic jokes and puns are funny… if done correctly.
But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s find out…
What can a brand gain by using memes?
1: Easier to humanize the brand
To anyone not working for a particular brand, the brand is faceless. It might as well be run by machines (who would know?!). It’s difficult for a lot of people to imagine that there are actual people making creatives, writing captions, and posting on social media; this is where memes come in. Memes add a sense of humour that only a real life people can think of. It makes posts personal rather than promotional and allows people to think of a brand not as an entity, but as a person… and even a friend.
2: Show off their funny bone
Brand: “Buy from me, buy from me, buy from me.” There are only so many ways to send this message across and only so many times people will actually buy it. Eventually, marketers will run out of words to say and buyers will stop caring. Communicating in order to create a bond becomes more important than selling all the time and what better way to do that than by cracking jokes, making parodies and being punny?
3: Create deeper connections
Sharing relatable posts on your social pages, can, over a period of time, help develop real connections with your fans and target customers. Building such connections are important because when people relate to you, they remember you and can even become brand loyalists and evangelists.
4: Increase social engagement
The point of having relatable or funny posts is that they won’t relate to only one person or be funny for only one person. Such posts are universal in nature and appeal to a large audience. That is why, funny posts such as memes get higher likes, comments and shares. Memes put up by brands often go viral too.
5: Increase brand recall
After liking and sharing a brand’s posts many times and developing a connection with them, there is high top of the mind brand recall by people. Thus, not being too promotional and pushy can have long term benefits for your brand.
All this being said, ‘memejacking’ (using already created memes to your advantage in a marketing strategy) is a sensitive and risky business. Here’s why –
Although memes are popular and loved by all, sometimes it can stir up negative emotions and serious problems. For brands especially, whose reputation is always on the line, it can mean a serious PR nightmare and sales crash.
Here’s how things can take a turn for the worst –
1: Using memes incorrectly
Every meme has a meaning. Using a meme incorrectly can seriously backfire and hamper your brand image. People will get annoyed by your post and turn away from your services completely. That’s why, if you are not an avid meme consumer and are given the task of making memes, research on it and know exactly what it means and how to use it. www.knowyourmeme.com is a great resource for doing this.
2: Not checking the usage rights
Chances are slim that you will end up on the wrong side of the law, but why take the chance? You can end up with a copyright infringement or plagiarism claim if you’re not careful about the memes you use. Therefore, check the copyright rules and the terms of service behind every meme you use and share.
3: Jumping in too late
Every trend has a peak time. Some memes are evergreen, while some are popular for only a few days or hours! So, don’t jump in on the bandwagon after it has left the parade, do it ASAP!
4: Not bothering to know the backstory
The people in the memes are not fictional. They really exist, and have feelings just like we do. Imagine, a person, simply going about his/her day as usual, got captured and suddenly became famous, overnight. There are bound to be certain repercussions such people’s lives. They may get bullied, fired or abandoned. Their lives can take a turn for the worse, we just don’t know about it. Some can even sue. So it’s best to use memes of well-known people or at least know the backstory of a meme before deciding whether it’s safe to use it or not.
5: Making it look like an endorsement
Sometimes, you may get excited about a big event happening and want to jump at the opportunity of using it to your advantage. But if it ends up looking like an endorsement, the public might get annoyed and shun you; and your campaign may end up becoming a ‘do not’ example in authoritative social media blogs.
6: Not matching your brand or audience personalities
If you are a brand that targets a young audience, go ahead and use all the youth lingo and trends you want to. If, however, your products and services cater to a more serious market, then your audience may not understand current trends and may even take your memes in bad taste. Moreover, you will end up diluting your brand, instead of making it stronger.
Worried? Don’t be.
Here’s how you can overcome the negatives and deliver good memes to your followers:
1: Develop a clear policy and social media tone
Figure out what the brand’s tolerable level of risk is and form guidelines that can be followed by everyone on the team. Also, agree on a tone of voice that is easy to understand by the masses and matches the brand personality.
2: Know your memes and your audience
Know the backstory of a meme, how it is used, and if it is free to use. Also understand your target consumer’s psyche, thought process and tolerance level. This will help to produce memes that your audience will enjoy seeing.
3: Consider alternatives
You can consider licensing an image, if it is protected. You can even MYOM – Make Your Own Meme – this may be a tougher option, but you benefit from originality and freshness. Besides, it can really improve brand image in the consumer’s mind.
4: Develop a great taste for humour
If you are not witty or funny, hire someone who is! Someone who can leverage trends by turning them into witty brand takes, can go a long way in developing an emotional connection with your audience, especially if they’re not expecting that level of informality with your brand.
5: Create content that can be meme’d
Once you have understood the concept of memes, you can try creating content in such a way that it can easily be turned into memes and circulated all over the internet! A lot of big content creators are already doing this.
Final words and things to remember:
- Using memes will not help you rank higher on Google, in the long run, however it will augment brand recall (which is better).
- If you are a new company looking to go viral, using existing memes may be a good idea. But, if you are already an established brand, consider creating original memes (as long as they have a great concept). This will help you beat your competitors and go viral due to your already existing large and loyal follower base.
- Using a popular or overused meme means the weight of your post will suffer as it will get lost in the crowd or be ignored by people.
- Trends come and go, but good posts remain evergreen. If you think that using memes is not the right way for you to go or is not working for you, forget it. Focus on creating evergreen content that will help your brand in the long run.
- If you have succeeded in making a meme, don’t try to trademark it or elements of it, it won’t go well with the people.
What do you think about using memes in social media posts by brands?