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What Do You Meme? A Breakdown of Marketing with Memes

We know you’ve noticed that memes have become part of many brands’ social media marketing strategies. And we bet you’re curious as to why and whether or not memes might be something to include in your strategy, too. The answer isn’t a clear-cut “yes” or “no.” It completely depends on your audience(s) and your brand voice.

Generally, memes are the domain of younger audiences. According to a Forbes article, Millennials spend more than 200 minutes online every day, and because memes are so prolific, there’s a good chance they and Gen-Zers are laughing at and sharing memes. So, if they are among your target audiences and your brand voice skews younger, it makes sense to consider including memes in your social strategy. Let’s explore why.

Marketers use memes that mimic their brand’s voice in order to grab the attention of consumers, because they can get across a culturally relevant, expressive message within three to five seconds, according to Juergen Dold, CEO of Optimist Inc in a Mobile Marketer article. With already-waning attention spans getting shorter seemingly every day, that three- to five-second window is critical. If a popular meme can be used to establish a brand’s voice and personality right away, some of the message’s heavy-lifting is done.

Meme Me

For marketers, “memejacking” – hijacking popular memes for your own messages – can be a great way to show off a brand’s personality, relatability and likability. Memes are already viral, attract likes and shares, are easy to create and perfect social fodder. The challenge is to take advantage of the timeliness of memes; in other words, don’t drag your feet and be late to the party. According to HubSpot, there is a memejacking sweet spot, when a meme has started to spread but hasn’t yet been jacked a lot. But this tip is key: before you hijack, be sure to understand not only what the meme means, but also what it implies. If you aren’t fully aware of the meme’s meaning, you could risk offending your target audience or perhaps worse, embarrassing your brand.

But What About Copyrights?

My team and I have learned to tread carefully when it comes to using images – including memes – that are found online. The intersection of copyrights, fair use and the internet is extremely complicated. The Big Question here is: Are memes copyrighted? The answer is yes and no. In fact, the issue is so convoluted, it warrants a scholarly paper rather than a mention in an article. Since this is an article, I’ll just suggest reading here and here to get more information, and from there you can dig further. I am not an attorney, nor do I intimate I am one. (However, I am married to one.)

So Sassy

The KGBTexas brand voice has a little bit of sass to it in social media. So, it’s not a stretch that there are popular memes that would resonate as an extension of our brand. Case in point:

The tone of voice has the same sassiness as our own. (For more about social sassiness, check out an earlier article of mine here.) However, sass has become a bit mainstream, and that leaves marketers like us to find other ways to make the same impression sass does, like using memes or inserting ourselves into cultural conversations to show personality and relevance via our social channels.

 

So, I can just about guarantee that a meme or two will pop up in our social feeds this fall as we explore that creative opportunity. If you have a meme you’d like to challenge us to play with, drop me a line!

If you have used memes in your social marketing, I’d love to hear more about your experience. What worked for you? What didn’t? And would you do it again? And as always, if you’d like to chat more about memes in marketing, call me at 210-826-8899 or email me at katie@kgbtexas.com.

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