What is a meme and what does it have to do with my brand?

Internet memes have become a cultural phenomenon, bringing together diverse generations and cultures over common pop culture trends. Meme, pronounced as “mēm” was coined by Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles to explain the spread of cultural phenomenon’s and trends. If you’ve perfected the art of collectively sharing cultural ideas through words, symbols and pictures; and if done right; they tend to go viral. Ranging from jokes, urban legends, viral videos, funny pictures or contagious music, memes have a large influence on modern language as they resonate and gain momentum and exposure. Memes offer an interesting proposition for marketers looking to get creative, whether you create the meme or just spoof it while it’s hot.

Think your brand could use a little extra flavor with the power of memes? Here’s a few things you need to know about responsibly using meme marketing for corporate social media:

1. Pay attention to pop culture: If you want to understand what people are thinking, why things are trending and if an idea is going to be popular, it’s crucial to pay attention to the culture. How can you create a meme or anything for modern thinkers if you don’t put yourself in that mindset? Study trends that are popular and pay attention to memes that have been received well in the past. It’s important to do your research.

2. Work quickly: Once something is trending in pop culture that is appropriate to the brand, it’s important to work quickly. Jumping right on board not only positions the brand as a trendsetter but you’ll have a better chance of it catching on. There’s a short shelf life to memes, like most things in pop culture. Most of pop culture follows a trend where it catches on, sometimes quickly, and escalates in popularity before it peaks and gradually falls off. Timing is everything.

3. Relevancy to your audience: We can’t stress enough how important it is to study the audience and understand the things that are relevant to them. Additionally, you have to select things that are relevant to the brand you’re trying to promote. It’s crucial that the content is both engaging and resonates with the people you’re trying to reach. Promoting a meme that doesn’t click with the projected audience is a waste of time, energy and resource and could potentially cause a disconnect between a brand and their target audience.

4. Cost and timeframe: Determine how much the brand is willing to spend on development of memes and how long it will take to develop the creative. According to a recent article from Bloomberg, “Some memes can bring in anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a single licensed broadcast of a popular video to six figures for an integrated marketing campaign based around a meme,” and that’s only if it’s properly executed. Lately, brands such as Nike, Nokia, and Lipton Brisk Iced Tea have utilized their own original memes while brands such as Coca-Cola, Sony and Google have purchased rights to popular pop culture videos to include in their advertising.

5. Don’t use expired milk: Continuing to use a meme after the popularity has expired is a bad idea and it makes a brand seem like they’re out of touch with their audience. It’s important to understand that the content created in a meme will only be relevant for a particular amount of time. New trends are constantly forming and something that was hot four months ago most likely isn’t hot now. Make the most of the timeframe you’ve created and be prepared for upcoming trends.

Memes can be the trendiest way to market a brand without incurring a large expense. Unique trends spread like a virus so always be proactive and look for elements of a brand that can be meme-worthy. Interested in creating a meme for your brand? Enlist in the help of the professionals.