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Meme /mēm/ (n.) - an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.
Surprisingly, no, the word meme did not come from what you know today as a ‘meme’. You know, those funny videos or pictures all over your Instagram and Facebook with catchy phrases attached to them that your friends share relentlessly (don’t lie, you chuckle slightly every time). Kind of like the pound sign is still a pound sign, no matter how hard you try to change it to ‘hashtag’...but I digress. Now, moving away from the few things I still hold old school that will never change, let’s discuss what you’re really interested in, trends.
Just like popular memes take the internet by storm, so did the idea of memes in general. Let’s start with millennials, there are more millennials than there were baby boomers (83.1 million vs 75.4 million) which equates to 1/4 of our population currently. That’s pretty huge, in case you didn’t catch on. With these millennials come trends like memes as well as the power to decide which go viral and which tank. They are the biggest consumers currently, hence the importance of catering to them (as much as that may pain some people to accept). They are revolutionizing the economy in a way that will change buying and selling for years and years to come. With millennials, you have one chance to capture their attention and if you fail at that one chance, you will crash and burn. Harsh, but true. This brings us to incorporating memes into your marketing efforts to succeed in grabbing that attention.
First thing’s first, don’t force it. Like sharks smell blood, millennials can smell, from a mile away, something that is forced and it could ruin you. Do your research (or let someone like us to it for you) and look into what is most popular with the younger age group. Mid-teens to early-twenties is your best bet. Find out what they think is funny, the new memes that are circulating, the videos that have gone viral. More than likely, they’ll know before anyone else. The notion that millennials aren’t important is so far off. They are the deciding factors in these trends and spending and can single-handedly be the reason your company effectively grows or shuts down. Follow the curve, and devise a plan that will break the internet, in a good way.
Step out of the box with your marketing. One size fits all is no longer a thing, stop trying to fit everything into a square when there are so many shapes to fill now. Advertising is no longer an order form with how many clicks you pay for or how much ad space you buy. Engagement is key. Let me say that again so that it sinks in, engagement is key. ‘Going viral’ is real and can really make or break you as a business if you don’t go viral the right way. Yes, there is a “right” way.
Timing and sensitivity go hand in hand with the most important details in using memes in your marketing. Hit when the audience is hot, but there is a fine line between jumping on it too early and jumping on it too late. Each situation is different, understanding that timeline is crucial. Make it personal, but not offensive. We live in an extremely personal world but some people either take it too far or are too far removed, it is also very important to understand this. Knowing when something is appropriate and when it does not seem pretty simple, but look at the track record of that with other companies, it’s not that simple. Map out your best and worst case scenarios of everything you do before you do it. Once you have these things nailed down, don’t get comfortable because they will change. Often. Be ready for the change and keep an open mind.
Speaking of keeping an open mind, stop being scared of creativity. The cookie cutter, boring ads aren’t cute anymore. Unless all you’re marketing to is your 85-year-old grandma and her friends (which you may be, and that’s cool too), you’re just not reaching your audience anymore with those ads. People are so numb to advertising, it’s so much more likely that they scroll right by to get where they are going than to take the time to really pay attention to your ad. They may see it, but it isn’t making an impact anymore. Still confused, read on.
[Insert Meme Here] Just kidding, I’m literally going to insert memes here. Take note.
Not sure how to use memes in your marketing strategy? Check a few of these out. P.s. BarkBox is consistently killing the meme game, I’ve included a few below but to really go down the rabbit hole, head to their Facebook and Instagram.
Kit Kat and LevelUp Foods worked off of the Evil Kermit the Frog meme and nailed it.
Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City created a series of memes for Valentine’s Day, not too bad in my opinion.
Last but not least, the masters of marketing, m&ms, just played off the word meme. I’m not mad about it, they got the point across.
Hopefully, you’ll take some of the advice above and incorporate it into your strategic marketing plan. Of course, don’t jump in with both feet (or do, whatever tickles your fancy), but start exploring the world of memes if you haven’t already. They’re a terrific way to get your name out there in a creative sense and they give your business credibility that you’re actually up to date on the latest trends and that you can connect on your consumer’s level. Now that I think about it, why don’t you reach out to your favorite digital marketing agency to start implementing those memes creatively for you? We are always researching the latest and greatest trends and measuring how audiences are reacting to them and engaging with them. Don’t wait too long, this trend could change in the blink of an eye and you’ll have missed out.