The peak of social media and pop culture fandom (as with many topics we chatter about on this blog 😉 ), the Internet meme has shot to fame as a form of lighthearted, highly relatable, quick-to-read entertainment. Typically featuring a combination of text, GIFS, and imagery; memes are passed on from person-to-person in a broken telephone style of utter Internet genius!
Staking their claim as the real MVPs of cultural expression, memes play a key role in understanding contemporary society through the lense of a generation who’s come of age growing up with the internet. So what does that mean for us professional storytellers you may ask? For digital marketers, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and creative pros, meme marketing can be an extremely low-cost way to create engaging content that attracts a following. Being a meme geek myself (and yes, I payed $39.95 at Chapters for the ‘What Do You Meme’ party game) I’ve found there to be a few defining characteristics necessary for crafting the perfect viral meme.
1. Relatable 💯🔥
Relatability and broad appeal is a must-have ingredient in successful meme-making. By definition, memes are a way of packaging widespread feelings into nifty little graphics so users can easily share and express their sentiments of day-to-day-living. The name of the game here is that you want people to read your content and think ‘SAME’.
Even more, you want your audience to read it and find elements within the post that remind them of their relationships with others, which influences them to want to tag their friends in the fun. Take a dive into the comments of any meme posts: the proof is in the pudding. Every second comment you’ll read will be an “OMG US!” followed by a string of silly school-girl laughing. The more relatable the post, the more reposting and re-meming you’ll see from your users. In other words: they will essentially be advocating for your brand in a much more authentic, and organic way than ad posting and you’ll be able to reach a much wider audience.
2. Witty 🧠💡😂
Memes can be an incredibly fun piece of content, but at the core of it all, memes also have to be witty and clever. Usually leveraging satire, social commentary, nostalgia, or a combination of them all; what makes memes so great is that they have a way of expressing obvious things in a way that we haven’t seen before. A high-quality meme can be both funny and insightful. In a time when many consumers skip ads whenever they can, marketing with humour and familiar media can engage even the most hard-to-reach consumers.
3. Entertaining 🎭🤹♂️
Sure, having a business-central goal in mind is great, but sharing memes to Instagram for the sole purpose of entertaining your audience is another way of upping your authenticity and lifestyle value. Memes are funny, and that helps foster community among your followers. Think of it like everyone trying to get in on the same inside joke. Our expert tip: share viral tweets from your community and don’t be shy to repurpose existing memes. The fun of it all is seeing how memes evolve in the process. Like a chameleon, they shift and change to blend into conversations of celebrity gossip and prevalent scandal, and it’s hilarious to watch such small moments get blown out of proportion until it has created nation-wide trend.
4. Relevant 👨💻☝️
Keeping in mind that meme marketing’s end goal is to promote your own brand, it is important to maintain your brand values and keep up with a consistent TOV (tone of voice) when you are trying to cherry pick the best memes that’ll make it to your feed. You don’t want any memes to contradict any aspects of your business, insult or disrespect your audience, or generate conversations outside your scope of interest. Either way, you can still be creative in finding niche subcultures that relate back to your business. Think about all the raised eyebrows and confused comments a cosmetic brand would receive if they were always hyped up about football references and concerned about who’s going to win the Superbowl on their Instagram (unless you strategically positioned your business as a sports-friendly cosmetic company!)
One last word before wrapping up; Don’t be shy to use crafty memes. There is something endearing about their amateur nature and less-than-perfect resolution. (Remember, authenticity is key!) So, embrace the unpolished: It’s a meme world after all!
What are some of your favourite meme accounts on Instagram? Let us know in the comments below!