Brands can benefit from memes in many ways. A successful campaign will get the brand’s message across and produce an engaging piece of viral marketing content. So, what are some popular meme marketing strategies for brands?
Embrace the ironic style
Irony has become part of youth consumer culture, particularly on social media. Marketers use the ‘ironic’ style to connect with millennial audiences that embrace subversive messages and appreciate black humor or gallows humor (humor that derives its amusement value from subjects such as death, disease, deformity, handicap, or warfare). The popular meme marketing strategy here is to use humorous images with ironic captions where the irony isn’t immediately which needs further explanation (e.g., the “Successful Black Man” meme).
Reinforce your brand’s values
Millennials tend to trust brands that share their beliefs, and attention online is precious. If a millennial consumer feels that you subscribe to similar values, they’re more likely to buy into your product or service. The popular meme marketing strategy here is to use memes (and viral videos) that include messages and themes consistent with the brand itself. For example, Wendy’s used the wholesome humor of children’s illustrated educational book illustrations in their social media posts, reinforcing its branding message of an old-fashioned burger joint where people are treated with respect and friendliness. Check Meme Scout for wonderful ideas.
Use trending hashtags
Hashtags are valuable tools for meme marketing as they help increase your content’s visibility on social media. Brands also have the opportunity to spark a trend with a witty or quirky hashtag that makes their content go viral. The popular meme marketing strategy here is to use hashtags popular among millennials and related to your brand’s target audience, e.g., #Blessed, #YOLO, etc.
Partner with influencers
Influencer marketing is a valuable tool for gaining exposure by piggybacking onto someone else’s large following, which shares similar demographics with your brand’s customers. For example, Arby’s collaborated with YouTuber George Janko (3 million subscribers) to launch the Meat Mountain – homage to the sandwich-eating challenge from the film, The Sandlot. Janko, a self-proclaimed ‘meat enthusiast,’ wore a branded t-shirt as he ate each sandwich on Arby’s menu – featuring every meat item on the menu.
Establish your memes
Creating your memes is an excellent way to reach and engage with your target audience. It can be fun and incredibly insightful for both you and your consumers if done correctly. Successful memes go viral, but it’s not as simple as creating an image with text overlayed. Memes require timing, context, and relevance to be effective. The popular meme marketing strategy here might involve using already trending content that you can piggyback on. Or, you might team up with influential social media personalities to create new content on behalf of your brand.
Use shareable visuals
Research suggests that millennials are yet another generation influenced by ‘instant gratification’ – the need for things now rather than later. According to a recent report, companies have moved toward more timely product launches as new digital technologies have shortened the release cycle from years to months or even weeks. The popular meme marketing strategy here is to use trendy imagery that reflects fast-paced consumer lifestyles where messages must be understood quickly without much thought or analysis. So, memes are perfect tools of expression for sharing snippets of daily events captured in photos and videos.