What if I were to tell you that the very memes that engage you as a reader every day can be used to engage your own audience, thus becoming an integral part of your social media marketing strategy?
All silliness aside, there’s no escaping the truth that memes mean something to today’s internet readers. The concept may sound a little out there, especially if you’re more accustomed to straightforward, traditional marketing concepts. But really, memes aren’t entirely different from past methods of print advertising, and can open up an entire avenue of relatively inexpensive digital marketing. Learn how you can use this idea to boost engagement instantly.
What Is a Meme?
We tend to think of memes as a more recent cultural phenomenon, newly inspired by the union of the Internet and photo editing software. It turns out that the term “meme” was coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. He defined the concept as the method through which:
Our ideas, ideals, cultures, and customs replicate themselves. Almost like a virus, they travel from person to person through imitation, sharing, and repetition.
Hence how a meme can go viral in just moments!
Dawkins’ findings have been investigated in the animal kingdom, and meme-like sharing patterns have been observed in microbiology. Today, the term is generally used to describe commonplace cultural images with a witty caption. Essentially, cartoons, only with pop culture references instead of drawings.
Why Should I Include Memes in My Social Media Marketing Campaign?
The meme phenomenon is any marketing professional’s ideal scenario. A catchy phrase, saying, or caption is placed over an easily recognizable image. That image is shared on a social media account, where millions of people have the potential to see it.
But more importantly, the audience for whom the image was created see it. And they like it. And they comment on it. And they share it. And the people who received it from them share it yet again… again and again, your image is shared, each time credited to you and your business.
Next thing you know, the meme is appearing on Google searches, pop culture news sites like Buzzfeed, and you’ve gone viral for your impeccable wit. Added bonus: all of this can be accomplished for little to no investment in time or money.
But aren’t memes pretty informal? Memes are intended to be witty, ironic, or thought-provoking in a light-hearted way, so there are certainly businesses or situations that might clash with the concept. At the same time, we know that just the right amount of humor can be beneficial for many businesses. The secret to meme success is making sure it fits your brand image.
Think of a meme as an “in-joke” with your audience. It doesn’t have to be absolutely hilarious, or vulgar, as long as your audience can relate to it. Many of us categorize memes as unprofessional based on those which we’ve shared personally, but there is a whole world of gentle ribbing, “if you know, you know” types of memes that aren’t offensive, mean-spirited, or uncouth.
Before you make a decision regarding including memes in your social media marketing, consider doing a search for one of your keywords, accompanied by the word “meme”. This will give you an idea of what currently exists, and provide you with guidance on what topics or keywords are popular, and which to avoid.
How Do I Incorporate Memes in My Social Media Marketing Strategy?
The actual creation and sharing of a meme is the easy part. Free programs like memegenerator.net can help you get started without paying a cent.
Of course, a free meme is going to look like a free meme, complete with watermarks and the potential of someone else sharing it and benefiting from it. Depending on the photo editing software or design professionals available to you, you may be able to create your own top-notch, personal memes in-house. If you choose to go this route, be aware of any licensing or credits required for the photos or images you choose as the base of your meme: you don’t want this to backfire with potential copyright violation.
The hardest part of making a meme is sprinkling in enough ingredients to make it go viral, or at least impress your target audience.
The first decision you must make is whether memes work for your brand identity. As mentioned earlier, do plenty of research. What types of memes are popular in your market? What are some in-jokes specific to your niche? Don’t just look for memes that are kind of funny to you; dig deeper to find out how audiences are responding to the meme. Is it being shared?
Creating The Perfect Meme
Next, turn the same close eye to your own audience. Each type of social media responds to and incorporates memes in their postings in a different way. Look at what is popular on your feed, in feeds related to your niche, and pay attention to what your own audience shares and likes.
Shopping for just the right image, and then coming up with just the right text to strike a chord with your followers is a bit daunting, especially at first. Social Media professionals can be hired to assist you with your campaign, if meme-writer’s block occurs. However, when working with a contractor, make sure they appreciate and understand your brand’s identity.
There’s no single recipe for creating the perfect meme. In fact, what’s shared on one day might generate no interest on another day, simply due to the other things that are trending on social media at that time.
At the same time, set your meme posts up for success by making sure they reflect your brand identity. If it comes out of nowhere, your audience may react negatively. Make sure the message of the meme is clear, and will make sense to the individuals who read your posts frequently.
Using memes in your social media marketing campaign can boost engagement right away, since users love to share and react to things that make sense to them.
Like the cartoons used in print media, memes are short, to the point, relatable, and witty. Your audience loves reading memes, and even better, people love to share them.
This can mean instant traction, boosting engagement on your social media site, attracting new organic traffic, improving your SEO, and establishing your brand identity: all for little to no cash investment. All you need is some careful planning, time, and a good sense of humor.