To meme or not to meme

20 April 2016

To an evolutionary biologist a meme is a behaviour, idea or action that is passed from one person to another within a culture.  It’s the evolution of ideas through the spread, replication and adaptation of words. They are infective and viral and compete for your attention.

The internet meme stays pretty true to this and they are a great viral addition to the modern marketing toolkit. Your meme can be a word meme, video meme, photo/image meme, animal advice meme or something dreamt up in a marketing moment of magic. Make it familiar, topical, shareable, succinct and funny and sit back and watch it go viral.

So let’s take a look at memes that have worked , some meme creation platforms and then decide where to best position your meme for maximum effect.

Memes that work

With your brand in mind think carefully before you leap on board the meme train. Memes are fun and can be adapted to fit virtually every brand but may, and do replicate, and turn the tides of public opinion against you. What ideas do you think will resonate with your clients and their demographic? Overt marketing is a big no-no, remember that a meme is fun and interactive and think through the consequences of using culturally insensitive images or words. They could come back to bite you. Bill Cosby posted a picture of himself in 2014 inviting people to meme him and boy did they.

Social media success is within your reach…

Baby Sammy’s fist clench denoting ‘success’ or ‘frustration’ started life as an image taken by his mother and was uploaded to Flickr and Getty Images. Since then it has snowballed and captured the imagination with success memes going viral in their thousands. Virgin Mobile paid an undisclosed sum to licence the image for advertisements and it was even used by the Whitehouse for an immigration campaign. Sammy Griner maybe the most recognised baby on the internet… after North West . This meme also significantly raised money through crowdfunding for Justin Griner (Sammy’s father) when he needed a kidney transplant in 2015.

Poor Shrek will never escape the swamp

There were some great meme campaigns last year including the “Straight Outta … “meme generator which promoted the film “Straight Outta Compton” boosting ticket sales at the box office. Try it yourself here . The great thing about this campaign is the ease with which anyone can participate and share their meme. The public loved it creating hilarious memes,  and no animal, politician or cartoon character was safe.

Meme Generators

There are plenty of meme generators to help you in your quest including the following:-

  • imgflip. Has a stock or established images which you can caption however there is also the option to upload your own images.
  • Dubsmash app can be downloaded and will allow users to create well known movie scenes and video lip synch to their favourite songs.
  • Meme Generator was the first online meme generator and will allow you to caption popular characters and animals like ‘grumpy cat’ and will also allow you to upload your own images and meme those or invite others to so.
  • QuickMeme

There are always more meme generators popping up on the internet so keep an eye out and do let me know if you have a favourite app or generator. If you don’t think you can summon up the right sense of humour then have a browse through KnowyourMeme and exercise your inner comedian.

Get your Meme Seen!

Now that you had created your meme and discussed its role in your marketing campaign where are you going to put it?

  • Reddit is the number one place to post your meme on the internet, look for the right subreddit and submit your meme. If it does make it to the front page then you will get a dofollow backlink. It is also a great place to have a look what is trending and in a few weeks you will see the memes trending on more conventional social media sites like Facebook. You could hijack and get on board a trending topic like the impeachment of Brasilian President Dilma Roussef before others or just use it to test out the virality of your created meme. If your meme is popular it will be adapted and go viral quickly.
  • Tumblr . This is a hybrid of social media and a blogging platform. If your content and images are liked then you can benefits from reblogs which do give backlinks. With 10 million users and rising this is the platform not to ignore, especially for great content writers.
  • Your meme can be shared, liked and commented on, driving traffic to your Facebook page and increasing your followers. Whether they are your target market is a question you should have a think about when creating your meme.
  • Supported by appropriate hashtags your meme could be picked up by influential retweeters in your region and further. Just search for the popular hashtag #firstworldproblems and you will see how effectively this hastag has gone memetastic.
  • StumbleUpon .A great place to submit your memes with millions of users it will definitely drive traffic to your website but again be aware they may not all be your target market and have a plan in placeto market additionally or gain subscribers on the landing page so visitors may turn into customers or brand advocates. The added advantage is that backlinks can be produced.
  • No handy backlinks on this site but plenty of users and a perfect fit for meme humour.

Hopefully you are not ready to produce your memes.  Just remember your sense of humour.

ISM’s next Social Media Marketing Course is running  from 26th to 28th April in Dubai. Please get in touch through [email protected] if you want to learn more .

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