When creating an Internet Marketing Strategy, Internet marketers in the last few years have split themselves into two separate groups: one loving memes and taking full advantage of their virality potential and the other snickering at memes, casting them off as a waste of time. Who’s wrong and who’s right? Who’s fooling whom?
The first thing to be said is this, memes are much more than just Condescending Wonka being sarcastic and the smart quips by the Rage Comic faces. Have you ever seen an Energizer Bunny commercial, or been privy to someone’s ‘Kodak Moment’? Then you, my friend, have already witnessed the use of memes as a marketing tool. Memes have been around for over 30 years, and the term encompasses a wide variety of cultural phenomena.
What is a meme?
The most concise description is that a meme is the expression of a socio-cultural phenomenon with the power to spread widely, and which usually evolves as it progresses. By that definition, a meme can be virtually anything with virality potential and understood with a certain social/cultural context.
However, for the purpose of internet marketing, only five types are relevant:
- Videos which take the Internet world by storm
- Physical memes (think Ice Bucket Challenge)
- Digital memes – originate and exist only digitally e.g. hashtags, emoticons
- Catchphrases – usually based on an inside joke to some group
- Macros – the online images with witty captions.
The power of a meme in an internet marketing strategy
Here’s the thing about online marketing and an internet marketing strategy: you can do it on your own, or you can fire up a bunch of enthusiastic individuals to do it with you. Memes are the easiest way to achieve the latter – you take a social reference that positively resonates with your target audience and cleverly apply it to your brand/product/campaign.
Even if it doesn’t go viral, that simple move has been shown to increase likes by 65% and comments by 50% and that’s not ineffective at all. If it does go viral, then whoa, we’re talking worldwide exposure within a number of days, even hours, depending on how good the meme is.
But memes are not just about making you more likeable; they’re about demonstrating that your brand has the ability to make your audience laugh. For example, by reporting something, you demonstrate your ability to come up with a subject, conduct research, process information, make inferences and then report on it.
Now, by the same scale, using a meme demonstrates the above, but it also demonstrates on organic understanding of and involvement with the subject (and things they might like), which wins you extra points because, who doesn’t like to find out that someone else just ‘gets’ them?
How to market with macros
- Get acquainted with macros – know every detail of what you’re working with inside and out so that you don’t get misunderstood. And so that you don’t use a stale, overused meme.
- Create your own macro – there are many web services, like http://memes.com, which you can use with Photoshop to come up with fresh, trending and original memes before they spread. Take care so you don’t violate an IP right.
- Be found – share your macros on every social platform you’re on – several times on Twitter. If it increases in popularity, you can take it offline in promotions, and brand products e.g. t-shirts. A very small brand logo covertly placed is allowed at that point.