At the core of Gen Z and Millenial values is a desire for authenticity and relatability. Meme marketing is the best way to demonstrate to your customers that you speak their language. Memes remove that B2C signal that many users are growing tired of seeing their feeds becoming oversaturated with. Although meme marketing has become more popular over the last few years, brands have been slow to find the proper foothold in viral discourse, particularly as video-centric platforms like TikTok have broadened the definition of memes and viral trends.
Know Your Meme Insights is here to change that. Our Insights team has broken down why meme marketing is so effective for brands and how to get started.
Why Is Meme Marketing So Effective?
- It demonstrates a level of fluency amongst your audience.
As of 2022, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 147 minutes per day, up from 145 minutes in the previous year. Memes are the modern language of that landscape, so by utilizing meme marketing as a brand, you’re meeting users where they are instead of trying to redirect them. This also helps your content blend in a bit more with the other trends in their newsfeeds.
2. Memes Attract An Audience Like No Other
The biggest appeal of meme marketing from a brand’s perspective is how quickly they spread. There is no other visual content form that spreads as instantly or widely as memes do. Why? They’re shareable, remixable, and most importantly, they are relatable. There’s a reason that when a brand gets meme marketing right, you usually see or hear about it on the same day the meme was posted. It’s worth noting that the virality of a brand’s meme doesn’t guarantee it’s well-received, but you know what they say about bad PR.
Examples — Bratz recently joined the viral discussion around Cara Deleveigne and her awkward behavior on the red carpet at the BBMAs where a video of her repeatedly throwing a piece of Meg Thee Stallion’s dress in the air as Meg posed for a photo went viral. The day after the BBMAs, Bratz recreated the scene using two Bratz dolls and tweeted the image with the caption “What’s going on here? Wrong answers only.” The tweet earned 135k likes and 14k reshares in less than 24 hours and was generally well received.
On the flip side, language-learning app Duolingo recently came under fire after its social media team left an “insensitive” quip about Amber Heard beneath a viral TikTok video. In the video, Heard insinuated that she was the target of an online hate campaign, saying: “You can look either of us up online and figure out who’s being abused.” The official Duolingo account commented beneath the clip “Y’all think amber watches tiktok?” (comment has since been deleted). The joke was quickly condemned by social media users, many of whom took to Twitter to express disapproval of a brand trying to take weigh in on a sensitive legal case. While meme marketing is more of an art than a science, it’s important for brands to demonstrate a level of awareness about when it’s appropriate to insert themselves or meme a certain person/situation and when it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.
3. Memes are the dominant form of visual content on almost every major social media platform.
Post-pandemic, the world has been preaching digitalization. From fashion shows to education, everything took an online turn over the last two years which greatly increased the memeability of just about anything. As TikTok continues to pump out viral videos, Gen Z influencers, and trending sounds/music, memes are no longer the future of visual content — they are the present and dominant way of communicating online. Brands who are not able to be nimble in adapting to this modern form of meme discourse will quickly fade out of the periphery of their customers.
How To Get Started On Building Your Meme Marketing Strategy
- Research your audience
If you are not currently informed on what your target audience/demographics are discussing, memeing, and creating across meme-centric platforms like TikTok and Twitter, digging into user research is an essential first step to ensure that your content actually lands with the right users at the right time. Whether you’re targeting Gen Z students or millennial home buyers, brands must develop memes around things their customers showcase interest.
2. Originality will set you apart
Undoubtedly, you want to make your audience laugh. But at the same time, brands can’t forget to lead with memes and work towards increasing their brand awareness. Keep your sole focus on building brand awareness through culturally relevant topics. Brands must understand that every other person on the internet is investing their time creating and sharing avant-garde memes. So, instead of solely focusing on sharing available memes, try getting creative and building your own. A good place to start with this is creating a list of all the “problems” that your product/service solves.
Examples: The Beard Club does a great job of mixing original content with culturally relevant topics, trends, and memes. They also do a good job of cross-pollinating their original content across platforms. Going deeper into their meme marketing, they’ve also demonstrated how brands can tap potentially new customers through fandom content that bridges brand awareness and cultural zeitgeist with image macros of popular Marvel characters, references to trending tv shows, and viral TikTok sounds/trends that appropriately center their products/services.
3. Timing is everything
Once you implement meme marketing in your brand’s digital marketing campaigns, it is vital to execute your timing properly. Some memes come and go like they never existed, while others have managed to become pillars of Internet culture. If you decide to include an existing meme in your digital marketing campaigns, ensure it’s still impactful and trendy. If your brand’s social media manager decides to make a meme themselves, cross-checking the cultural climate is key.
Whether it’s a cultural phenomenon or a contemporary moment, stick to it. Social media is all about how active you are and how fast you can hop on to any current trend. For brands, it’s also vital to react to the random memes getting attention from the world on social media. Be creative, keep track of the world events (ex- pizza day, new series coming out on Netflix, and more), and meme it before another brand does.