Brands are constantly implementing different marketing strategies to face and outdo new challenges. No matter what product or service you sell, you can no longer afford to be just promotional. You need to relate to your audience as well, to encourage them to interact with you or even buy from you.
However, as trends are moving faster than ever, it’s pretty difficult to know where to invest your time and money. So, how can you stay on top of the latest changes in the world of marketing?
Simple. By leveraging the one source that will never get old — Memes.
Memes have revolutionized the field of marketing. What was once used by millennials and Gen Zers for entertainment has now turned into an incredible strategy for brands to engage with their potential customers.
In this article, we’ll discuss what meme marketing is, how you can leverage it, and see brand examples that are doing it right.
What are memes?
A meme (pronounced as meem and not me me) is an amusing or interesting image, GIF, video, or just plain text usually derived from popular culture or current events. Memes usually capture an idea or belief widely shared over the internet, and something that people can relate to.
Memes usually are used by brands to add a humorous touch to their marketing strategy. Done well, they can spread rapidly through social media, email campaigns, and forums.
The word “meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, in 1976 in his work. The Selfish Gene. The word stems from from the Ancient Greek word mimētḗs, which means to imitate. He likened memes to a unit that carried a cultural idea or practice ahead. While he later distanced himself from this word, it also resulted in a field of study called Memetics.
Here’s an example of a popular meme — Pepe the Frog.
What is meme marketing?
Meme marketing is a process of using memes as a part of your marketing strategy. It’s a fun, subtle way to connect with your target audience, start conversations, foster relationships, and boost your brand engagement.
Memes are an effective tool for marketing because they are relatable, refreshing, and can increase your brand visibility. This marketing tactic is an indirect way to promote your brand without appearing too salesy. And the best part, it doesn’t require big budgets!
Why should you try meme marketing?
Some of the most notable brands in the world — from Netflix to Gucci — include memes in their marketing strategy. Here’s why:
1. Memes are inexpensive
Most companies are always on the lookout for low-cost marketing tools that can yield a good response from the audience in return. This is where memes work best.
Anyone can create memes using free meme generator tools and customize them according to their brand identity. Besides, you can also personalize content created by other people by adding a new caption or twist, saving you tons of time and resources that you would have otherwise spent on producing original content.
2. Memes boost shares
48% of social marketers use shares as a metric to measure the campaign’s success. However, getting social media shares is not an easy feat, especially when your followers are bombarded with tons of content over different platforms. That’s where capitalizing on trending memes can help.
Memes are created to be shared, reposted, or re-purposed across the internet to reach a broader target audience. The more widely it is shared with friends or family, the more people get aware of the brand. Plus, people sharing memes become an advocate for your brand.
3. Memes humanize your brand and bring communities together
When brands use memes, they add a human touch to their content strategy and give you an authentic voice. Memes foster a sense of community among your followers because they can relate to them. Plus, it shows that you are easily approachable — and not a robotic company that only wants to promote its products and services.
4. Memes generate instant feedback
There’s no guarantee every meme will go viral — some can backfire too. They can come off as inappropriate and insensitive to your followers. In this case, failed memes can be an excellent learning opportunity for brands and not a reason to eliminate them from their content mix.
As long as your meme doesn’t flop, you can use it to gather feedback from your customers and tap into new opportunities and insights to improve them for future campaigns. Furthermore, avoid producing content that can damage the brand’s image and offend your audience's feelings.
5. Memes aren’t going anywhere
Trending memes may come and go, but memes as a content format aren’t going out of fashion ever. They’ve been with us for quite a long time and are here to stay for longer. In fact, they will become more prevalent in the future — especially as a fun yet effective digital marketing strategy.
So, if you haven’t started incorporating memes in your content mix, NOW is the right time to do so.
Meme marketing examples from brands
Wondering which brands are winning the meme game? Let’s find out:
1. Slim Jim
Slim Jim, India’s first online hemp lifestyle store is who we call the OG of meme marketing. They started using memes in their social media strategy even before it was a trend, growing exponentially in no time. Their meme marketing success has been shared across the internet as they still continue to grow with the same strategy. You can read all about it here.
2. Slay Coffee
Slay Coffee, an online FMCG brand that sells coffee is nailing meme marketing. They use popular snippets and dialogues from movies new and old, to create relatable posts - such as this one as a reaction to not getting coffee:
3. Paws India
An online pet supplies store, Paws India is another good example of using memes in marketing and at the same time, keeping up with trends. They annotate the memes with common pet family scenarios to give them their own unique twist!
4. Dr. Sheth's
Dr. Sheth’s is another popular name in the beauty industry for their natural and medicated skincare products. They too have been seen leveraging popular memes to promote their products or educate their consumers. Take a look at this one that captures the trending meme from Shark Tank India.
Yogabar is one of India’s most loved nutrition-led food companies. Since they address a wider demographic with their products, their brand theme is typically cheery and relatable in terms of the content. They use meme marketing pretty actively to keep their followers engaged. Sometimes to send them a reminder, and sometimes to subtly drive information!
HealthKart is one of the leading online marketplaces for buying health and wellness supplements in India. They actively use trending memes as an engagement strategy on social media. But they make sure that they’ve added a ‘healthy’ touch to the memes with the content that goes along with it.
7. The Whole Truth
Another brand that is known for its health and wellness products, but also funny content is The Whole Truth. The brand leverages different content formats, including meme marketing to keep their target audience actively engaged with their informational content as well.
How to put meme marketing to work?
Now that you’ve seen what memes can do for your brand, it’s time to incorporate them into your marketing strategy. But before you jump in, here are a few best practices you must consider:
1. Know your audience
Like any other marketing strategy, the first ground rule to create memes is to know your audience well. This is critical even before choosing a meme template. Your goal here is to ensure your target audience gets the joke without explanation. And also to understand whether your audience will appreciate memes in the communication.
For example, a joke about Among Us isn’t going to fly with 30-40 years old. Whereas a meme featuring 80’s movies won’t be suitable for millennials or Gen Zers.
By understanding your audience, you can create relatable memes without offending anybody’s feelings or leaving them clueless about the joke.
2. Add originality to trending memes
Instead of posting a popular meme that everyone on social media is already sharing, put in some effort and get creative with your messaging.
Understand the meme and try to include your brand’s slogan, mission, product values, or simply an image to give it a unique look. Not only will it result in a few extra laughs, but it will also make your followers feel associated with your brand, boosting brand recognition.
Sure, it takes more time and creativity to create original content, but there’s a high chance that your meme will be widely shared.
Check out how Wakefit, a mattress brand, added an original touch to one of the Squid Games’s most popular meme:
3. Timing is everything
While some memes are timeless, most memes have a short lifespan that you can measure in days or even hours. So, to ensure that you’re sharing your meme at its peak, be quick at chasing trends. Watch out on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit to find out what memes are trending and how popular they currently are. Further, follow top influencers and meme creators so that you don’t miss a trend.
If you can manage to create a meme around a trending topic or news at the right time, you are more likely to get the traction you want from your audience.
4. Stay on brand
A viral meme is a great way to tickle the funny bone of your followers and get traction for a limited time. But, to get long-term results, make sure your meme feels authentic to your brand.
Incorporating memes in your content mix can be tricky as you might risk losing your followers when a meme flops. Therefore, make sure to align your meme with the brand voice before publishing it on the internet. This way, your brand can reach a specific yet relevant audience, making it easier to generate leads and sales in the long run.
Remember: No matter how funny a meme is, it's best to ignore it if it doesn't relate with your brand and audience.
5. Less is more
Just because your audience encounters hundreds of memes a day doesn’t mean they only want to see memes from you.
Remember, memes are not your main content. Too many memes on your feed can harm your brand reputation and make your customers question your professionalism. Plus, it can make it seem like you're desperate to get your audience’s attention.
So, use memes only occasionally when creativity strikes and at the right time.
6. Don’t be offensive
The thing with memes is that every brand wants to include them in their marketing strategy. However, many get involved in the meme fun without understanding its consequences.
Brands should be careful about what they make fun of because their every action is noticed by their followers and competitors. One wrong move and you're likely to lose your loyal audience forever.
To make sure your memes aren't offensive, ask yourself the following questions. Does the meme:
- Offend the feelings of a particular group or community?
- Make fun of a specific group or community?
- Uses inappropriate imagery or language?
If your answer is "yes" to any of these questions, you may want to scrap your meme or change it.
7. Follow the meme rules
Here are some additional guidelines to keep in mind while creating memes:
- Keep it short, sweet, and straightforward
- Use easy-to-read fonts and colorsMake sure your audience can still recognize your meme after you customize it
- Don't rush to post your meme without understanding the context behind it. After all you will not want your meme to go viral for the wrong reasons
- Create a meme library to fasten the meme creation process. You can add in your text quickly to any meme when inspiration strikes
- Avoid changing the meme's meaning unless you’re sure it will be easy to understand and relate to the original
- Avoid including CTAs in your meme (unless it fits in the meme theme really well). Remember, the primary purpose of memes is not promotionbut engagement
- If you are gathering images from different websites, make sure to check for any licensing considerations
- If you’re including memes in your strategy, be sure that the images have a creative commons license; if not, you will need to recreate the images yourself to avoid copyright infringement
Where can you use memes in marketing?
Let’s check out the best spots where you can use your memes:
A catchy meme is an excellent tool to add spice and humor to your blog posts. Not only does it make your content easy for readers to digest, but it also boosts SEO rankings. It increases the click-through rates as people are more likely to check out viral content and share it with others.
Besides, memes add a touch of humanity to your blog posts and provide comic relief to your audiences.
2. Social media
57.6% of the world's population uses social media, making it one of the best channels to connect with your audience and grow your following. Posting relatable and timely memes on social media have a strong potential to expand your target audience and build meaningful connections with them.
What's best is that memes work on multiple platforms without too many changes in context.
3. Email campaigns
Email is the most widely used marketing channel, making it a great place to use memes. Including memes in your emails can make it more visually appealing and bring up a few laughs, resulting in a positive response. And since they have a relatively smaller size and shorter load time, they are a perfect option to add to your emails.
When used correctly, memes can boost the overall email’s effectiveness. When used excessively, they can irritate your readers or obscure the central message of the campaign.
Memes are generally not used for profits — they’re used to connect with your audience on a deeper level and showcase your brand voice. However, incorporating memes in your advertisements can work wonders in boosting your conversion rates. Not only do they attract the target audiences’ attention, but they also make your ads more click-worthy.
This is especially effective for brands targeting younger audiences as they can be notoriously hard to please. So, when creating memes, using the appropriate language and trending topics is a creative way to advertise your products while keeping eye-rolling to a minimum.
WhatsApp is another crucial platform to reach and connect with your customer base. Creating and sharing funny memes to promote your product or an upcoming event or tell them about seasonal discounts can be an excellent tactic to create a lasting impression on your customer’s minds. However, whatever memes you share, make sure they are relevant to your brand and the audience.
Publishing memes on different marketing channels is not an uphill task. The main challenge is to find the memes that are trending in a timely manner. But don’t fret, as there are a plethora of websites and tools available on the internet that can make your meme search a cakewalk — which we’ll explore in the next section.
How to find the best memes for marketing?
Looking for popular, unique memes? Below is the list of websites that not only help you find the trending memes but also recreate and download them.
Know your meme is an unofficial encyclopedia of memes founded in 2007 with an aim to document and make memes more accessible to people. It not only shows you the meme but also explains its meaning and how it’s used. Further, you can also search who used a particular meme first and how it went viral.
Me.me is your best source for the best and latest memes on the internet. You can find endless memes on the main page. Plus, they are sorted by categories, such as funny, dank, horoscopes, politics, sports, and cute. You can also create an account and save for favorite memes for later use. What’s best is that it covers meme news about the origin of a meme and the reason behind its virality so that you can stay abreast of the happenings in the meme world.
ImgFlip is a meme sharing and creation website that allows you to find, add, or personalize memes by typing in your text. You can find millions of funny and trendy images from the ImgFlip collection shared by its users. Further, you can customize these images instantly, save them on ImgFlip, and share them on your social media platforms. Besides, you can also submit your creations on this website to let more people know about your memes.
Memedroid is one of the best websites to explore, rate, and share memes and funny pictures. It provides daily updated memes and curates a list of top memes of the day, week, month, or ever. Memedroid comes with additional features, such as meme generator, chat feature, and ranking system. And it is also available on Android and iOS devices.
9gag is a worldwide platform for memes, GIFs, funny pictures, and short videos. You can find a wide variety of memes sorted into categories such as funny, animals, gaming, lifestyle, movies, cars, and more. It also promotes user-generated content and allows you to upvote and comment on posts after signing in. Further, you can connect with like-minded folks and chat with each other.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of websites that allow you to create free memes. However, some sites also add their watermark to your images which isn’t ideal for branding.
Sure, you can use Photoshop to create and customize your memes. But, it can be a time-consuming and expensive process. This is where free meme generation tools can come in handy. Not only do they allow you to explore and download memes, but they also personalize them by adding your text and other branding elements.
Meme generator tools you can use
Here are some tools to get started with meme creation:
Canva is a popular image editing application. However, it also comes with a meme generation tool that makes it easy to create your memes. You can either upload your original photos or choose from a wealth of meme templates and stock photos. It has a Text tool that allows you to add some words to your selected images. Plus, the formatting tool lets you customize your memes with different fonts, effects, colors, and sizes.
Next comes Meme Generator, one of the best and easiest meme creation tools available online. It provides access to a vast collection of the most popular memes to choose from and even allows you to upload your photos to make custom memes. You can add various customizations to the images, such as texts, stickers, and drawings. Plus, this tool automatically positions the text within the meme.
Imgur is an image hosting platform where you can explore the latest memes and funny photos and customize them by adding in your text. Besides, users can also upload their own images to convert them into memes. What’s more, you can instantly share your created meme on the website itself and provide users with a URL.
4. Make a Meme
Make a Meme is a free meme creation tool that’s super easy to use. It comes with a database of multiple meme formats to choose from. Its search and organizational tools help you find the best meme for your needs, and the editing tool lets you customize its font size, text color, and much more. Further, you can also post your memes directly on social media channels using the submission tool.
Mematic is an excellent meme generator application available on iOS devices. It provides a massive library of memes, free premium pictures, and GIFs to choose from. This fast and easy tool allows you to customize or add captions to the photos and share them with your friends with just a few clicks. What’s best is that it respects your privacy and does not show third party advertisements.
DIYLOL is another great yet simple meme creation tool over the internet. It stands for “do it yourself laugh out loud”. The tool doesn’t have various customization options compared to others on the list. But, it enables you to create and download memes quickly from pre-selected images. Plus, you can edit the font color, size, and width. And also, add additional text boxes with a single click.
Which businesses should use meme marketing?
Often, people are skeptical of using meme marketing for their brands. They perceive memes as a marketing tactic reserved only for millennials and Gen Zers. However, that’s definitely not the case.
Anyone can make memes a part of their marketing strategy irrespective of the audience they cater to. But to get it right, the key is to have a solid understanding of your audience and how they might respond to the memes. This helps you know how memes can seamlessly fit in your content mix and resonate with your brand’s persona.
If done right, memes can become a valuable tool in your marketing strategy. They are a fun way to reach your audience and interact with them. Plus, they can help you increase brand awareness and boost engagement organically.
Memes are taking over the world, and more brands are creating and sharing memes online than ever. Are you ready to hop on the meme marketing bandwagon too?
Does meme marketing not suit your brand? Well, here are some other marketing resources you should explore:
- How to create a marketing plan that actually converts
- How to use email newsletters for marketing?
- Beginner’s guide to influencer marketing
- How to get started with Instagram video marketing
- How to sell on Instagram