So, meme marketing is a thing now.
Marketing content is constantly taking different shapes and forms: One month, short-form content is king, and the next, it’s long-form content. The month after that might be video.
And meme marketing is no exception. A dynamic strategy that’s been sweeping through social media platforms, this snazzy new marketing tactic provides businesses with a new approach to foster growth and establish connections.
But what exactly is meme marketing? Let’s dive in to see how it can turbocharge your audience growth.
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What Is Meme Marketing?
Meme marketing refers to the use of popular memes as a promotional tool for brands and businesses. Memes are cultural symbols or ideas that spread virally, primarily through the internet.
A meme can be images, videos, text or a combination of these, which are often humorous in nature and thus highly likely to be shared on the internet.
In its essence, a meme represents a contemporary manifestation of shared inside jokes in the virtual sphere.
In most cases, memes speak for themselves. They’re often visual-heavy and are always paired with text:
A few key points about how meme marketing works:
- Popularity and Virality: Memes are widely recognized and shared, making them a powerful tool for reaching a large audience in a short amount of time.
- Relatability: Memes often resonate with a broad audience because they touch on common experiences, feelings or cultural moments. This relatability can create a strong connection between the brand and its audience.
- Engagement: Memes encourage user interaction. People often share, comment on and create their own versions of memes, leading to higher engagement rates compared to traditional advertising.
- Cost-Effective: Creating meme-based content can be relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to traditional advertising campaigns.
Keep in mind that meme marketing also comes with risks. Using a meme incorrectly or in a way that’s perceived as insincere can backfire, leading to negative publicity. Good memes require a deep understanding of internet culture and the specific audience being targeted. And, memes have a short lifespan, so timing is crucial.
The Genesis of a Viral Meme: A Sneak Peek into the Process
So what’s an example of a meme marketing campaign that worked well? For that, we’d have to turn our attention to the Marketing Millennials, who have done a really solid job at wielding memes to grow their audience.
The Marketing Millennials serves as a vivid benchmark, as their consistent meme generation strategy has helped them achieve hundreds of comments and thousands of likes on their posts:
The thing about meme marketing that makes it effective is its organic nature and home-brewed feel. Behind every meme is a relatable thought or idea, and with every meme, people can get a sense of the mind responsible for making it. And when a particular meme hits the nail on the head with the intended audience, it can create cascades of interactions:
Encountering a meme that triggers genuine laughter or a sense of connection has become a shared experience in the digital age. Consequently, memes offer an unparalleled opportunity for both brands and individuals to engage with a broad audience on a profoundly relatable level.
In an online social climate where connections are often characterized by rapid content consumption, memes condense humor, emotion, and cultural relevance into bite-sized units that possess the power to ignite conversations and prompt action.
The Evolution of Trends: Ride the Meme Wave
Trends come and go faster than a blink of an eye in the digital realm.
Remember the days when NFTs and the metaverse dominated conversations? Albeit, it wasn’t that long ago, and it was swiftly replaced by the craze for generative AI. And even AI was a big buzzword in the 2010s, which later evolved into “machine learning” and back to AI again. These things are all destined to repeat themselves in due time.
But for right now, we’re noticing that memes are the cool kid on campus.
With meme marketing, your content can swiftly adapt to trending topics, ensuring that you’re always riding the wave of what’s current. For instance, Elon Musk is known for embracing memes, acknowledging their power to tap into popular culture and effectively communicate messages.
Meme marketing capitalizes on this cultural phenomenon to connect with audiences on a more relatable level.
The Jab-Jab-Jab Strategy: Creating a Relationship with Memes
The jab-jab-jab-right hook strategy, popularized by Gary Vaynerchuk, emphasizes delivering value before asking for something in return:
In boxing terms, the “jabs” are the consistent value-driven content pieces that engage and nurture the audience, while the “right hook” is the clear and compelling call to action.
Meme marketing is all about jabbing:
- Jabs with Memes: In the context of meme marketing, the “jabs” are the memes that are relatable, humorous and culturally relevant. These memes are not overtly promotional but are designed to engage the audience, make them laugh, think or feel understood. By consistently sharing meme content, as The Marketing Millennials do, it’s easy to foster a sense of community among your followers.
- Understanding the Audience: Not all memes will resonate with every audience. It’s essential to understand the preferences, humor and cultural references that appeal to your target demographic. By tailoring your memes to your audience’s tastes, you’re effectively “jabbing” in a way that feels personalized and genuine.
- Building Relationships: The continuous sharing of value-driven memes helps in building a rapport with the audience. Over time, this consistent engagement creates a relationship where the audience feels a connection with the brand, making them more receptive to any promotional content or “right hooks” the brand might throw.
- The Right Hook: After a series of “jabs” with value-driven memes, the brand can then introduce a “right hook” – a clear call to action, whether it’s promoting a product, announcing a sale or any other direct promotional content. Given the relationship built through the jabs, the audience is more likely to respond positively to this direct approach.
Curate Your Memes and Don’t Veer off the Path
The quest for impactful memes requires you to be a vigilant “meme dealer.” Just as Elon Musk proclaims himself, scouring platforms like Reddit, Twitter and Instagram is your mission. Seek out the gems that resonate with your industry’s pulse, the ones that evoke laughter and engagement.
It can be very tempting to see memes in other verticals that are just raking in the comments and likes and feel like you want a piece of the action by either sharing it or posting something similar. But it can be a trap if you’re not exceedingly cautious about it.
Meme selection must be laser-focused on your industry and niche. Posting irrelevant memes might gain you followers, but they could be a mismatch with your regular content.
So it’s crucial that you maintain a thematic alignment between your memes and the industry you serve. Going off-topic may lead to attracting followers who won’t engage with your core content, potentially undermining your long-term growth strategy.
Final Thoughts on Kickstarting Your Meme Marketing Engine
Meme marketing isn’t just about generating laughs and likes; it’s about using humor to forge meaningful connections and ignite growth.
The strategic deployment of memes, aligned with your industry’s nuances, can build a following that eventually converts into loyal customers.
Remember, memes are more than just entertainment; they’ve become a powerful tool for boosting your business’s growth trajectory in tandem with providing a lighthearted allegory to things related to your industry.
So, as you try out meme marketing, remember to keep delivering jabs of value, and your brand will be ready to throw the right hook when the time is ripe. As trends ebb and flow, your brand’s adaptability and relatability will stand strong, making you a true meme marketing maestro.
If you’re ready to level up your brand with creative content like memes, Single Grain’s content marketing experts can help!👇
Repurposed from our Marketing School podcast.