Memes, Memes Everywhere

The term “meme” usually brings to mind a silly BuzzFeed article or social media post. But when employed correctly, memes can be surprisingly effective in PR and marketing.

A meme is a popular Internet trend that pairs an image with a clever phrase to create a relatable or funny situation. Memes can also include popular GIFs and videos. When marketers attach brand messages to already-trending memes, it helps audiences remember and relate to the brand. The results: more engagement and higher reach.

Just ask Moz, which transformed a boring press release into a series of memes. Or Virgin Media, which used the popular “Success Kid” meme in billboards and online materials.

Virgin Media Meme

Benefits of Using Memes in Marketing Materials

In Leveraging Memes for Your Own Viral Marketing, Stephan Spencer observes the benefits to integrating memes in marketing content. They include:

  • They’re easy and cheap to create. Websites like enable users to find a popular meme and customize it with their own text. You can also upload your own images.
  • They establish an emotional connection with audience. Memes are often used to instill humor in content. Content that invokes emotions (humor, especially) increases sharing.
  • They’re already popular. Why not use content that’s already popular? Like newsjacking, “memejacking” is an effective way to infuse the brand into trending content.

Tips for Marketing with Memes

Like any marketing tactic, memes can backfire. Before creating meme-inspired marketing materials, it’s important to consider your audience. Memes resonate best with millennials and tech-savvy folk. If you’re a B2B or market primarily to older crowds, your meme might fall flat with consumers.

In addition, there’s always the chance your readers take offense to the meme. Consider the consequences a meme will have on your audience before its publication.

An infographic by Who Is Hosting This illustrates tips for successfully “jacking” a meme in marketing. The tips include:

  • Know what a meme means before using it. “Bad Luck Brian” usually contains unlucky situations, while “One Does Not Simply” addresses seemingly-difficult situations.
Bad Luck Brian
  • Focus on something that is memorable, but ties back to your brand. With that approach, people will remember the meme and the brand that it’s related to.
  • Don’t change the original meme too much. It’s important to keep the core components.

Brands that Used Memes Successfully

As Virgin Media proved, meme campaigns can drive significant brand awareness — and often go viral. We’ve assembled several other brands that found success with memes. They include:

Wonderful Pistachios: Honey Badger

The Honey Badger videos gained so much success on YouTube that Wonderful Pistachios decided to move it to the “big screen.” The commercial aired on television and showed the famous honey badger cracking open pistachios.

HipChat: “Y U NO” Guy

“Y U NO” Guy bears an enraged stick figure and quickly spread through the Internet via Rage Comics. HipChat borrowed the “Y U NO” Guy to create a simple billboard that said “Y U NO USE HIPCHAT?”

Y U NO Use Hipchat

HubSpot: What People Think I Do/What I Really Do

HubSpot leveraged a popular meme consisting of a series of photos that echo several different points of view about a person’s job. As a marketing software company, HubSpot used the meme to create a Marketers version to appeal to its audience.

What People Think I do

Bottom line: humor is an effective way for marketers to connect with their audiences and encourage interaction. Memes can help invoke emotion, and drive greater reach for social media and blog content.

This article originally appeared on the CyberAlert Blog.

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