Memes have become a powerful way to connect with your audience on social media.
And though memes started out as a part of internet subculture, they've now become a key aspect of mainstream social media use. They can also drive people to take action, for example, memes played a key part in driving people to watch Netflix's film, 'Bird Box'.
The meme generation is growing rapidly too, with both millennials and generation-Z finding memes a way to connect with friends.
But like all new things, social media marketers need to be aware of the impact of memes on their audience and make sure to nail the delivery of each one.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid hiccups and master meme marketing.
Do’s and don’ts of meme marketing
Butchering a meme on social media can be a real mistake for brands that experiment with meme marketing without truly knowing their stuff — the cringe factor of mis-interrupting a meme can leave your brand backtracking and even in some cases damaged.
In contrast, delivering a meme in a stylish fashion, with your own flare, can really help you to connect with your audience, spread joy and laughter, help your brand appear relatable.
Here are the do's and don'ts of meme marketing...
Meme marketing do's
Know your meme...
One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is posting a meme without really knowing what it means.
If you share a meme to your social channels, you need to understand the meaning behind it. To understand a meme you need to know the origin, the intention and why it’s humorous.
Optimize the timing...
As social media marketers, many of us know about the half-life of tweets, Instagram Stories and all other types of social media posts. The same applies to the world of meme marketing.
Memes tend to have a short lifespan and the most important part of using memes in your social media marketing is delivering them in a timely and contextual manner. For example, releasing a Super Bowl-related meme two weeks after the Super Bowl, probably won't boost your engagement, but priming a campaign as soon as a meme begins to reach peak popularity — and using it in the right way — could work wonders.
Become well-versed in memes...
Memes aren't a shortcut to overnight success. In order to be successful with memes in your social media strategy, you first need to have a good understanding of meme culture.
Before publishing any memes, try to immerse yourself in the topic: Get involved in meme Reddit communities, research memes on sites like KnowYourMeme.Com and understand how memes are used by influencers and other brands.
Meme marketing don’ts
Avoid controversial memes...
Like with all aspects of marketing, there are boundaries you need to set for your brand when it comes to memes. It's important to note that some memes — no matter how great they are — just won't fit with your brand.
Many companies try to avoid controversial memes. But others fall into the trap of posting them in the hopes of a quick-fix to boosting engagement with their audience. Align the memes you post with your brand, and don't just post what's popular at that moment in time.
Don't overdo it...
Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Your role as a brand on social media isn’t to be a meme curator, it’s to grow your business. And whilst memes help increase your engagement, remember the big picture, and why you're on social media in the first place. Sharing memes too often can lessen their impact.
Don't force it...
Understanding your audience is often the number one priority for social media marketers. If you sell high-quality raincoats for the over 65s, you aren’t going to be posting memes or using TikTok to post all your content, right?
So taking the time to understand what memes are most relatable to your target customers will help you deliver the best results.
6 Examples of meme marketing in action
Memes will take time to master, and some of these brands are already seeing huge engagement from memes. Take note of how each brand delivers the content, and think about how you can apply the same methodology to your own brand and audience.
Pet subscription service, Barkbox, is known for sharing relatable memes that help them connect with dog owners.
This example shows a classic “Monday Blues” style post with a pug accompanied by a coffee mug on Monday and a red beer cup on Friday. Perfect for their audience and extremely relatable, the post proved successful with over 11,000+ likes and hundreds of comments.
2. Domino's Pizza
The pizza giants are known for their wit on social media. Dominoes tends to combine perfect timing and custom designs when they post memes to their social channels. For example, it posted a “Legend of Zelda” related meme around the release date of a Zelda new game.
The tweet received well over 10,000+ retweets and 17,000+ likes — plenty of engagement here for the pizza brand.
3. Netflix US
Netflix is very lucky that is has its own bank of content to use for memes. They typically post 2-3 memes per week that go down great with its audience, whilst also promoting its own programmes that viewers can watch instantly.
This particular campaign got over 10,000+ likes and just under 2,000 retweets on Twitter.
4. Greggs UK
The “Alexa, What is...?” is a popular meme based on the voice commands used with Alexa. Greggs, a UK sandwich shop and bakery, retweeted a customer, with the caption “Alexa, what is heartbreak” after they dropped a sandwich just outside of their store. This is a perfect way to use memes as an engagement strategy and combine it with user generated content.
Seamless is an online food delivery service, it constantly keeps up-to-date with trending memes and the latest GIFs. In a campaign last year, they began creating their own memes. This campaign used the “Chart” meme — where a chart gives only one outcome. Re-creating memes from scratch is tough, but this is one of the best deliveries.
HipChat, a team messaging tool, which is now owned by Slack, delivered a very humorous meme on a billboard. This was very early on in the world of meme marketing and got a lot of attention. The issue with billboard ads like this is the lifespan of the post is much longer, something to note if your brand is sorting out physical promotion of memes.