According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a meme is “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.” We often underestimate how impactful memes are to our modern culture when it comes to receiving and digesting information, but do memes have a place in marketing?
So many online communities are created and find comfort through memes and the laughter they bring. By recognizing the power of memes as a channel of communication amongst an incredibly broad audience, you’ll be able to better understand and decide whether memes are right for your digital marketing strategy.
1. Building a sense of connection
Humor has always been a way to bring people together and this is no different on the internet. Posting a timely and funny meme is almost always appreciated by anyone scrolling through a popular social media platform. Users follow and engage with brand content that is similar to what they see on their feed regularly, so joining in on the fun is to both you and your audience’s advantage.
For example, Gen Z consumers tend to value more absurd and ironic humor, which is why inside-joke-memes and comical digital interaction (like comments under TikTok or Twitter threads) can be a great way to create a connection. Using memes in your content marketing can effectively optimize your online presence by truly integrating (rather than inserting) your brand into digital spaces.
Cracking a joke with a good meme can create a kind of warmth and sense of community. It shows that a brand understands the cultural context/nuances of current internet humor that probably would otherwise be overlooked by non-users. This is why understanding the context of a meme is incredibly important when sharing one with your audience.
The meme(s) you share should be relevant to what you want your brand to project. Consider how you already fit into your audience’s lives or internet experience and how a specific meme relates back to an aspect of that, so you can laugh with your audience rather than be laughed at.
When a joke begins to go viral, not only does it get quickly duplicated, but it also begins to evolve into different variations or even something completely new. Researching the origin of a popular meme will prevent you from overstepping boundaries and save you from potential misunderstanding or controversy.
2. Quick and easy creation
Of course, it’s important to have thoughtful and quality content, but in the age of curated Instagram posts and glossy influencers sharing an unpolished laugh with your audience is just as valuable.
Creating memes is meant to be simple and nearly effortless for brands (and their audiences). As the definition implies, this type of content is usually shared through an imitated format, so if you stay in the loop the jokes usually write themselves. But, audiences can often detect when a meme is forced and ends up coming off as disingenuous or awkward so it’s important to balance following the latest trends with an understanding of your brand personality.
Memes are designed to be highly shareable. And while there are never any guarantees, this can mean a better chance of going viral because of higher levels of engagement. People who enjoy your joke are even more inclined to share your content with their friends and family.
Using trending topics and pop culture to guide you on your meme journey will lead you right into the inside of the best and biggest jokes (and lead a bigger audience to you). Older cultural references too! There are memes nearly a decade old that internet users still remember and love. By using older memes you’ll be able to have “remember that time…” moments with a wide audience and create an air of nostalgia that will spread farther than expected.
Of course, memes may not be for everyone. Deciding to use memes in your social media marketing strategy is a decision that should first align with your brand’s character and atmosphere. Social media is a space for connecting with others, so creating shareable content like memes can be a great way to create relationships with your audience.