These days, even news feeds contain an abundance of cat videos. Indeed, memes have become one of the biggest staples of our everyday digital lives.
But as incredulous as this fact may seem, memes aren’t actually a recent invention. The etymology of the word comes from Ancient Greek – and it means ‘something that is imitated’.
Which is completely fitting, seeing as memes are one of the most widely spread trends ever. According to statistics from Google Trends, the word ‘memes’ is a search term that is almost more popular than ‘Jesus’.
Richard Dawkins actually coined the modern version of the word back in 1976. His argument was that ‘being viral’ wasn’t just a trait that could be used to describe diseases; but rather, that it was applicable in an anthropological context as well.
Therefore, he defined that a meme was an extremely shareable piece of culture. Indeed, something of an artefact that is able to spread through society with a shared culture with the speed of a wildfire.
And in the age of the Internet, memes have a special place and a very specific meaning in the digital world.
The thing that makes memes so distinct as a medium is their method of communicating situations, feelings and attitudes. And with that in mind, the appearance of meme marketing is no great wonder.
Why Do Marketers Use Meme Marketing?
Do you ever wonder how much time millennials actually spend online each day on various devices? The answer is a whopping 200 minutes!
And a good chunk of that is spent chuckling at various memes. With that in mind, it’s really no wonder that meme marketing has become a big part of the digital marketing world.
After all, it’s one of the cheapest ways brands can reach a practically global audience. But if you want to advertise your company online through meme marketing, the question is – where do you start?
Naturally, like all other advertising methods, social media marketing has its pros and cons. And one of the major downsides of brand marketing via social media is the endemically low engagement.
It’s fairly logical, once you think about it; no one likes seeing their feed filled with branded and sponsored content. Everyone just yearns to skip the (often lame) commercial content and move onto the things they’re actually interested in.
The Gen Z Internet users are especially averse to viewing content that they haven’t signed up for, for example. They can see a paid ad coming from a mile away, and they absolutely hate it.
And that’s precisely where meme marketing swoops in to save the day. If it’s done the right way, this can be extremely successful; particularly with millennials and the Gen Z audience.
Naturally, the reason for that is a simple fact: meme marketing is just one of the most natural ways to reach a digital audience. It’s a method that’s the most in tune with how people of a certain age use the Internet nowadays.
And memes are good for brands because they’re, as a medium, already designed for social media. At the same time, they can give people a laugh, while only casually making a reference to the appropriate brand.
Meme Marketing 101
If you want to dabble in meme marketing, there are really two ways of going about it. One is making your own meme, and the other is using an already existing one. As you might’ve guessed, the former is much more difficult.
After all, people create memes with the sole purpose of humour. And making a meme that has the potential of going viral, from a corporate point of view – is not that easy.
But if you want to use an existing meme, that’s not a piece of cake either. Mainly because one of the major downsides of memes as a medium is the fact that they’ve got a short lifespan.
If you want to be effective at using an existing meme for meme marketing, you need to constantly follow online trends and keep your ear to the ground.
Plus, you need to have a good understanding of what a meme represents before utilizing it in your media campaign. Memes are organic things, and their meaning may change over time.
Rules of Marketing Through Memes
If you want to start your own meme marketing campaign, you’ll need to know a couple of basic rules first:
1. Being natural
When you’re hiring someone to share and write memes for your brand, make sure that they’re a digital native.
The worst thing you can have is lingo that’s not on point. That will permanently damage your relationship with the audience, as they’ll see that you’re just trying too damn hard to appear cool.
2. Being relatable
One of the things you need to understand about memes is: not all people will understand them. In fact, memes are a pretty compartmentalized thing.
It’s like an inner joke for a huge society. So, don’t attempt to make a meme that everyone will pick up on; it’s bound to seem watered down. Only work to reach your specific targeted audience.
3. Timing is key
As you’ll see, some memes can stick around for ages, while others last for mere weeks. So, if you’re taking an existing meme and running with it, make sure that it’s still trendy, and that it has the potential to last.
Otherwise, if you’re making your own, be certain that you’re not tone-deaf for the current cultural climate.
Shristi is the Chief Content Officer at Raletta. She enjoys writing about food, fitness, finance and everything in between.