How to use memes in your marketing

How to: Use memes in your marketing

Memes are one of the greatest products of social media. They’re funny, relatable, and new ones are always being created! Using memes within your social media strategy could be extremely powerful for your brand. However, it has to be done right. In this guide, we’ll explain what to do and what not to do to ensure that your memes hit the mark.

What is a meme?

If you’re new to memes, we understand that they can be a little confusing. So, let’s go back to basics. Earliest recordings of the word meme trace back to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Game (1976). Dawkins defined a meme as:

“An element of culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means”.[1]

It is clear to see how this definition has evolved into our current-day definition of the (internet) meme. Nowadays, memes are images or photographs accompanied by a funny, ironic or relatable caption that are “passed from one individual to another” across the internet. Traditionally, memes tend to evolve as one image is taken and different captions are assigned to it. It is through the caption that they usually achieve their humorous status, encouraging social media users to share across their online community.

Here are two examples of the “Evil Kermit” meme. We can see that the meme has been imitated, but adapted slightly to display different humorous messages.

How can using memes help my business?

There are many benefits that memes could have on your social media presence. Firstly, they create a sense of belonging and understanding within your online community. Their relatable caption is usually specific for a niche audience, generating a sense of inclusion amongst your followers encouraging likes, shares, and comments.

Memes are also relatively inexpensive content. The main basis of the meme is usually created by other people and all you’ll have to do is come up with a new caption or twist. Of course, the opportunity to create new memes is always there. However, if your time is limited, adapting an existing meme is often quick but still highly effective!

Memes have the power to adapt the way your brand is seen by the world. By tapping into current internet trends, your brand appears more human, real and authentic. Furthermore, memes are created to be shared, tagged and liked. A great meme can achieve a much healthier repost-rate and reach a wider audience than a mundane, sales-focused post.

Are memes right for my business?

Memes aren’t right for every business, so before you start, it’s important to decide whether they could work for you. This will usually come from a consideration of your brand identity and your target audience. Does your brand tend to remain serious, authoritative and educational? If so, the use of memes could hinder your brand’s credibility and probably aren’t the right route for you.

Often, memes are influenced by a social commentary or satire and can sometimes be rude or offensive. When marketing with memes, it’s imperative that you walk a fine line to ensure that your brand avoids crossing over into this domain.

Finally, in deciding whether memes are right for your business, it’s important to consider your target buyer. Memes are predominantly shared by younger audiences and could leave an older reader confused. If your demographic audience is a lot older, it’s likely that your efforts will go to waste.

It is worth considering the following questions about your target audience to decide which types of meme they will most likely engage with:

  • What music, TV shows, films or celebrities do they like?
  • How can they be entertained?
  • What problems or nuisances do they face within their community?

Although memes don’t work for every business, it’s important to be open-minded. Even the most unexpected businesses, such as high-end fashion brand Gucci, have branched into using memes.

This is an example of how Gucci transformed the “Arthur’s Fist” meme to subtly advertise one of their watches. As a high-end fashion brand, Gucci usually takes a more minimalistic and chic approach.

Where do I begin?

Now that you’ve decided to start generating memes for your brand’s social channels, it’s time to get creative! Making your first meme can be tricky, so let’s consider the ways you might introduce them into your social media.

Reaction to a cultural moment:

Some great inspiration for your first meme could come from a cultural moment, awareness day or recent phenomenon that is in some way linked to your business. For example, the recent occurrence of #InternationalCatDay inspired a marketing-related meme from us here at redPepper.

Participate in meme-style challenges:

Often, nobody knows where they begin, however, meme-style challenges frequently take over social media. Early examples include the Harlem Shake, planking and the ice-bucket challenge. However, examples of more recent challenges are the 10-year challenge and the FaceApp Old-Age challenge. Although they aren’t traditional memes, many brands have taken to social media to get involved in the challenges and as a result, have generated shareable and amusing content.

Create original memes:

Have you taken a funny photo or accidentally captured an entertaining video? If it’s humorous and relevant to your industry, then it could form your newest meme. Creating memes from scratch can be difficult, however, it can often happen unexpectedly. And, there’s a good chance that the engagement you receive will be higher!

Repurpose existing memes:

There are tonnes of meme-generating websites that’ll help give you inspiration for your latest post. A favourite of ours is where you can customise a huge range of popular memes to include a caption that is relevant to your brand!

Share, share, share!:

Creating your own memes can be highly effective for generating engagement within your social media community. However, memes are made to be shared! As long as you give credit to the meme-creator, there’s nothing wrong with sharing a meme that you know your audience will relate to. And, the more you share, the more inspiration you’ll gain for your own memes!

Our 5 quick tips

Hopefully, we’ve given you some inspiration into creating memes that’ll work for your business. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when introducing memes into your social media strategy:

  1. Don’t overdo it, use memes sparingly and only when the time is right.
  2. Don’t rely on memes. They are a great addition to your content but cannot replace original content.
  3. Be thoughtful and considerate. Memes are often controversial and could backfire, it’s important to establish a respectful tone at all times.
  4. Strive towards making memes for a niche audience. This is not the nemesis of your marketing, it’s the aim.
  5. Step away from call to actions (CTAs). Your content is more likely to be shared and reach a wider audience when it entertains the reader rather than focusing purely on the sale.

Are you looking for a little more advice on your social media advertising? Take a look at our other social media marketing blog posts for how-to guides and our top hints and tips. Or, if you’d like some more hands-on advice, feel free to book a meeting with us today. Let’s discuss how we can help get you connected to your future customers through social media marketing.



Content Marketing Manager