5 ways to effectively integrate memes into your marketing campaign

Virgin Media success kid lrge

For some reason, a lot of people tend to overlook memes when they’re coming up with their marketing campaigns. That’s a shame because the format presents a great way to integrate popular Internet humour into campaigns.

Here are just a few reasons why people should include memes in their marketing:

  1. They are easy to create. With websites like memegenerator.net, you can simply create your own meme by filling in text boxes. You can upload your own image, or take advantage of incredibly popular memes and get in on the fad.
  2. They are cheap — as in, completely free. (Though there may be copyright issues in certain cases — more on that later.)
  3. People feel in on a joke. The familiarity of the meme creates the blueprint of laughter; people know to expect a laugh.
  4. It is a great way for your brand to seem relevant and fresh.

If you’ve decided that you want to take advantage of a meme in one of your marketing campaigns, here are five specific things to keep in mind.

1. Get on board quickly
The most important part of capitalising on a meme is not waiting too long. Like most things in pop culture, there is an inherent short shelf life to memes.

They follow a pattern: catching on, escalating in popularity, peaking and then gradually falling by the wayside. That’s why it’s so important to get on board while a meme’s popularity is growing and not waiting until it’s played out.

Jumping on right away positions your brand as a trendsetter. Waiting until a meme is stale can actually have a negative effect, because consumers see your brand as awkward and behind the curve.

It’s possible to stay on top of trends by routinely checking Know Your Meme. As the go-to site for everything meme-related, it will keep you abreast on what’s popular and what’s trending.

There is also a section where you can submit your own ideas for memes. It’s also important to follow social media sites like Facebook, Reddit and Pinterest to see which memes people are sharing.

When you notice that a particular meme is getting a lot of shares, that’s a trend to pay attention to. The most important factor is developing your own internal barometer of where a meme is in its lifecycle. It’s also helpful to consider production time on anything you’re creating – if something takes a month to develop, it’s hard to know if a trend will still be hot.

2. Relevancy to your audience
You have to select memes that are relevant to your audience and to your brand. If you have to introduce your customers or prospects to a meme before they see your spoof, it’s not going to work.

Content must engage and resonate with the people you’re trying to reach. The Harlem Shake, for example, was fairly mainstream; the vast majority of people were at least somewhat familiar with it when the barrage of spoof videos appeared.

That’s why it worked so well and was used by many companies and soon enough there wasn’t a corner of the internet one could turn to without being greeted by The Harlem Shake.

Jumping on a meme that doesn’t click with your audience is simply a waste of time and can potentially cause a rift between you and your audience. When deciding which meme to focus on, see what your social media followers are saying about it. If your followers are sharing it, you could have a marketing goldmine on your hands. Otherwise, move on.

3. Creation costs and timeframe
Meme based marketing is highly opportunistic, and should only be used when the right factors align. The cost or time to create something good could be prohibitive or mean that your window has passed. It can be expensive to piggyback on a meme.

On a small scale, creating a video of employees dancing and singing along to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” or to the Harlem shake can be done inexpensively. All it takes is a video camera or smartphone.

On a larger scale, the Virgin Mobile “Success Kid” campaign cost significant money to buy the rights to the image from the Success Kid meme for use on billboards nationally.

Brands need to ensure that they’ve budgeted appropriately before they tackle this kind of project. Simply reproducing the meme is often not enough. Try to be as innovative and creative as possible so that the end result builds your brand. Putting a fresh spin on a meme while maintaining its original message is a big part of being successful and connecting with your target audience.

4. Sharing and distribution
For meme marketing to be successful, you need to have a distribution plan that gets it in front of consumers as quickly as possible. Social media channels can be a powerful catalyst for exposure.

Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ tend to work well because people can immediately see the image or video screenshot on their feeds. Meme marketing is a good fit for social media, as it can have a powerful humanizing effect on your brand.

Social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg, Delicious and Stumbleupon can also help memes spread quickly. Always include social share buttons around the content for maximum visibility. This also results in increased social signals, which have been shown to play a role in improving search engine rankings.

In addition to pushing out content through standard channels, memes can also be submitted to various syndication sites. The content can also be repurposed and added to your blog, newsletter etc. Brands need to invest energy in getting the meme exposed to their audiences.

5. Let it go once it cools off
Continuing to use a meme after its popularity has waned is a bad idea. It makes your business seem like it’s out of touch with pop culture. That’s why you should understand that your content will only be relevant for a limited amount of time.

Memes are continually popping up and what was hot a few months ago may have barely any relevance now. Make the most of your meme window, and be diligent about letting it go once its popularity has past.

The unending stream of memes means plenty of opportunity. There’s always something fresh out there. Although you can’t expect to maintain steady traffic and exposure from a single meme, it’s likely that a sizable number of people will return to your site and potentially make more purchases in the future.



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