The word “meme,” which originated from the Greek word “mīmēma” meaning “something imitated,” is defined as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” The word was coined in 1976 by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene.” In his book, he grasped for a “noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation” and eventually arrived at “meme.”
Fast forward to 2013, the father of memes himself gives a speech where he remarks on the internet’s re-appropriation of the term.
“The very idea of the meme has itself mutated and evolved in a new direction. An internet meme is a hijacking of the original idea. Instead of mutating by random chance before spreading by form of Darwinian selection, internet memes are altered deliberately by human creativity.”
This evolution of memes and their rise in popularity in the online community opens up endless possibilities for marketing and advertising.
Benefits of Meme Marketing
There are many benefits to implementing memes in your marketing strategy.
In an age where people have adapted to tune out the advertising they’re constantly bombarded with, Memes are a fantastic way to stand out from the noise and clutter of media messages.
Because they’re entertaining and easily recognizable, memes are also great for sharing. So, if your brand is able to capitalize on this and create a meme-based ad worth reposting, all you’ll have to do is sit back and allow social media to do the work of generating massive amounts of impressions.
Memes are part of today’s culture. By embracing cultural trends, you make your brand more relatable to your audience, thus forming a connection with them. By forming this connection, you’ll not only stand out from competitors, but also build loyalty from your current and future clients.
How to Use Memes in Marketing
If you’re now convinced of the reasons to use memes in your marketing efforts, you’re now probably wondering, “How do I effectively use memes in a marketing campaign?” While memes and viral campaigns can be a wonderful and cost-effecive way to advertise a company or brand, a viral campaign gone wrong can have serious consequences.
Here are some basics you should consider, before taking the leap into marketing with memes:
Know Your Audience
This should be a no-brainer in ANY marketing or advertising campaign, but it is especially important in a social media campaign. McDonalds learned this the hard way with a hashtag campaign gone horribly wrong in 2012. Remember to understand your audience and what appeals to them.
Do Your Research
Before trying to use a meme in your marketing strategy, you should make sure you understand it. Basic mistakes such as misusing the meme or coming across as “trying too hard” can make your campaign go viral in a way less pleasant than you’d intended.
The best way to go viral in your campaign is to be one of the first to jump on a new meme. Trends can be fleeting, so by catching it early on, you can maximize your chances of standing out as well as showing your audience your company is on top of cultural trends.
If you have fun using memes in marketing, your audience will know. If it is forced rather than smooth and natural, however, that will also be reflected in the final product.
So to sum it up, memes can be a fantastic way to market a brand or company since it is already viral, easy to share, attention-grabbing and helps you connect with your consumer. By minding the audience, doing research, staying updated and having fun, any company can take advantage of the meme craze in order to raise awareness, boost sales or even just maintain a fun brand image.