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The Power of Memes

If you haven’t seen them, where have you been hiding? Over the last few weeks, the internet has become a constant stream of ‘It’s coming home’ memes and, quite frankly, I’m well and truly on board with it all.

It seems every famous movie or TV clip – from Friends to Only Fools and Horses – has been dubbed with the famous Three Lions song. The song itself is even at number 24 in the charts, which is probably going to climb even higher if England win on Wednesday evening…

But, this got me thinking… Memes have become a part of our everyday communication and part of the social media culture. Most people opt to express the emotions using memes compared to the “old school” way of using literary words. So, how can brands harness the power of memes?

First and foremost, what is a meme?! Many people assume they are images overlaid with text. But this isn’t the case.

A meme is an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.

Memes allow brands to latch onto various topics and trends that audiences may be talking about. They’re short, sharp, funny and, most definitely, grab our attention.

There are two ways brands can utilise memes; either create their own content – which can often be difficult and risks poor effectiveness and low engagement rates – or jump on the back of, already popular, memes. Popular memes may be associated with risky or off-colour humour. Be sure that you understand the meme to prevent it from being perceived in a negative way.

Netflix are extremely good at creating their own content. From their hit show, Stranger Things, they created several memes that were posted on their social media channels.

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Virgin Media jumped on the back of the popular ‘Success Kid’ meme to promote the advantages of their TV services in a creative out of home (OOH) campaign.

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Just like Harry Kane for England, memes can deliver exceptional results but there are some tips to follow…

Timing is everything

Just like the, ‘It’s coming home’ memes, memes are usually influenced by current events, trends and gossip. Keep an eye out for what is currently happening and if it can be used as part of your content strategy. Make sure to react!

To meme or not to meme

Let’s be honest, we can all quite easily spot when a brands content is not really relevant or seems a bit ‘try hard-ish’. Make sure the memes speak the language of the audience.

Is your audience made up of millennials or generation Z? Meme away. Are you targeting high level, city CEO’s? Take a different approach. This doesn’t mean eliminate the use of meme’s altogether but find out more about what your target demographic are reading, seeing, watching etc. This will help determine which, if any, memes will work.

Laughter

The best examples work because they are humorous and are on a human level. As brands, show your human side and don’t be afraid to have some fun. People know when they are being sold to and in a digitally driven world, taking a more personable approach is appreciated – even when you have made a mistake. KFC mastered this perfectly when the country had a meltdown over the chicken shortage crisis.

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"Just like Harry Kane for England, memes can deliver exceptional results but there are some tips to follow…"

Why?

Many, many brands make the mistake of assuming memes are curated to drive website traffic, for example. Although this can be the case, memes should be used really for engagement; bits of content to raise awareness, spark interest, encourage sharing and show off your brands personality. The use of memes can really shake up your marketing and digital strategy – if you use them in a creative and innovate way. They are popular because they are an innately shareable form of content that can further engagement and spark a trend in a matter of minutes.

At drp, we often use memes to deliver campaigns for our clients. If it’s right to do so for your audience, don’t be afraid to take a risk. Use memes to engage with your audience and show off your personality as a brand. We’re all human, at the end of the day…

#ItsComingHome

By David Lewis - Marketing & Social Media Executive