Memes are nothing new.
A lot of us are old enough to remember some of the early ones, like lolcats and demotivational posters. (Those things are about a decade old now. Feel old yet?)
Today, we're facing a constant stream of fresh new dank memes. They gain popularity, then fall into obscurity, at breakneck speed.
Think about it: when was the last time you heard about Harambe? It was everywhere, and then it was gone.
For working adults with a job and a life outside of the internet, it can be hard to keep up with what's a dank meme and what's an old meme.
You don't want to be that company that tries too hard to appeal to kids with a meme so old, its bones have turned to dust. There are entire communities where people poke fun at that kind of thing.
If you're going to use memes in your social media marketing, you need to do it right.
Good use of current memes can help forge a connection with your audience, especially if you're targeting a young demographic. Wendy's is a great example of a brand whose meme usage and social media marketing are on point.
You also need to watch out for a couple of things that can really trip you up.
First of all, know your audience. That's pretty much a marketing mantra at this point.
Second of all, make sure you really understand a meme before you use it. Even a current meme can be laughably misused if it's in the wrong context.
In a recent article, AdEspresso provides a good example of meme use, and a bad one. The first is a current meme that's certified dank, used in a way that's appropriate.
The second one is an ancient meme from time immemorial — well, more like 2012 or thereabouts, but we're talking about internet years here.
It's also used in a way that's weird, disjointed, and frankly, doesn't really make much sense. It feels shoehorned in for its own sake.
Take a look, and you'll see what we mean.
Good example: Totino’s
Totino’s is aware that their customer base is not looking for a Michelin-star culinary experience. They can poke some fun at themselves while selling their frozen pizza rolls, and their customers will love it.
Totino’s does this well with their version of the “Whomst” meme, which makes fun of those who use linguistic hypercorrection to appear more enlightened:
The brand injects itself into the meme by jokingly suggesting that the higher state of existence is literally to become a pizza roll. The savvy usage of the meme earns them instant recognition from their followers:
Bad Example: Club Orange
Irish soft drink Club Orange shows us what can happen if you don’t know your audience.
In this example, the brand used the “Success Kid” meme as part of one of their regular social media campaigns:
Club Orange runs a weekly “Crate Friday” contest in which they send a full crate of their product to one of the people who comment on their Facebook update:
This use of meme misses the mark because of how disconnected all elements are — there’s no link between the image, the contest, and the question Club Orange is asking to engage their followers.
To make sure the memes you use on your Facebook page click with your audience:
- Develop well-defined customer personas for the main segments of your audience. When you have a clear picture of who you’re talking to, it will be much easier to know if a certain meme is a good bet.
- Start on a small scale: Experiment with using a meme on a small segment of your audience. If you suspect a specific demographic might be particularly (un)responsive to memes, use Facebook’s targeting capabilities to confirm your hypothesis.
You can read more about how to use memes — and how not to use them — over at AdEspresso.
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