Memetic marketing is a marketing technique that uses memes for marketing. First, let’s discuss what a meme is. The term “meme” was coined in the 1970s by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. For the sake of brevity, we’ll skip the boring parts of the Britannica article.
A meme is any form of media, be it video, image, music, etc., that has the propensity to go viral and evolve into something different. For example, you may remember LiMu the Emu from the Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials. LiMu, Doug, and their antics are, or could be, considered a meme.
They’re a memorable duo that makes you laugh. Their commercials cause people to seek the ads out specifically to share, and as a byproduct, these meme ads go viral. In fact, this meme is so cleverly crafted that the Emu’s name is akin to a periodic table abbreviation for Liberty Mutual!
So, how can memes help your marketing campaigns? Surprisingly, there’s a ton of ways they can help out.
Anytime something funny, sad, or messed up happens on Saturday Night Live, or a person chokes on an interview, there’s a meme for it made the very next day. Not only that, but there’s thousands of memes being made about it that are being shared by people all over the internet.
If you happen to make the meme that hits everyone’s funny bone, it will be shared time and time again. This pushes your company to parts unknown if your watermark/logo is discreetly planted on the meme.
Avoiding Branded Content
Companies have been advertising to Millennials and Gen Zers since they were in grade school. These consumers have experienced so much advertising that even the faintest whiff of branded marketing has them screaming to get away. They’re tired of the never ending cycle of ads.
This is where memes can help out your marketing campaign. Sure, branded content is important, but so is being human. You hate seeing ads, I hate seeing ads — and I work for a marketing agency!
A well-placed meme is like a breath of fresh air to consumers who just want to enjoy their media without being bombarded by ads. If your company is that break in the waves of “Buy me! Buy me!” you’re going to be remembered better. Your website may even get more visits because of this.
An example of this is an outdoors company called Cannae Pro Gear. I had never heard of them prior to a Facebook ad, but their ad was a meme that made me laugh. I had no idea what they were trying to sell; in fact, I thought they were a camera gear company. Their meme prompted me to visit their Facebook page, which then prompted me to visit their website.
To date, Cannae Pro Gear is the only company producing backpacks that I remember the name of. Why? They made me laugh instead of pushing the hard sale.
Becoming the Meme
There are times where forming your company or company’s social media accounts into a meme can be beneficial. The biggest one you might remember is when IHOP declared they would be changing their name to IHOB. This change put IHOP on the front page of every newspaper, every news channel, and on every single person’s social media feed.
Their intention was never to change their name to IHOB. They wanted to cause a massive shock to the world that would produce them free, but not bad, publicity. Needless to say, it didn’t only work when they made the announcement. It worked when they reversed the announcement, as well.
An uncommon but effective example of “Becoming the Meme” is Wendy’s Twitter account. Whoever runs that Twitter account is an absolute savage when it comes to creating a personality that people want to follow. They participate in “National Roast Day,” get into hilarious spats with other companies, and properly use the current lingo. Examples include using “sammies” instead of “sandwiches,” and “nuggs” instead of “nuggets.”
Many college marketing textbooks like this one actually mention Wendy’s effective marketing strategy and how much it caused their social media accounts (especially Twitter) to grow.
Knowing When to Meme
To meme, or not to meme — that is the question you must answer. Memetic marketing is an art form that requires you to understand who your core audience is and who you want your audience to be. Some audiences won’t take kindly to memes. Other audiences will absolutely love memes (when done correctly) and share them. These shares will grow your following.
Only you can make an educated decision on whether your company should participate in memetic marketing and how it will participate in memetic marketing. Will the company’s social media pages become a meme? Will it only share memes on occasion? Or, are memes simply not appealing for your target demographic?
The Results of Effectively Using Memes
So, at this point you’re probably wondering how effective memes actually are.
Sure, it’s easy for me to write an article telling you that you should consider using them. But, can I put any weight behind my words?
The analytics below are from one of our firearms-industry clients. Part of their social media strategy includes using memes 3 days per week. These memes are almost always their highest-commented and most-shared posts. As you can see, the page saw astounding growth from January 31, 2021 to December 31, 2021:
How much would your business increase if your social media page was growing by 400-600% each year? Memes can make that happen!
Use Memes to Your Business’s Advantage
Memes are more than what you make of them — they’re how you make them. If you’ve never had a funny bone in your body, or you don’t know how to utilize pop culture to your benefit, it may be best not to participate in memetic marketing. Or, you can hire someone that can participate in it for you.
As with all things marketing, it’s important that you understand your own capabilities as a person. Seek out help when you need it, whether it be from The Coutts Agency or from a friend you know that posts 🔥 memes.