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Meme Marketing: Does it Even Really Work?

Nearly everyone with an internet connection has seen a meme before (even if they don’t know what it is). Pictures with silly captions placed over them are consistently shared on social media sites and between friends. Over the past few years, quite a few companies have experimented with using them as marketing tools. The natural question to ask is if this is actually a legitimate strategy, or if it simply makes you look unprofessional and a bit silly.

Here’s the good (or bad, depending on how you feel about them) news: memes are useful marketing tools if you use them correctly. For that, you need to understand how they work and if they suit your way of doing business.

They’re All About Humor

You can’t paste any old phrase or sentence over an image and expect results. Memes get the reactions they do because they’re funny, they’re relatable, or they make people nod and say “Yeah, me, too!”  

Memes primarily rely on satire and sarcasm to get their message across. Studies show that humor is a great outlet for many companies when they want to let loose, be a bit more human, and experiment with their advertisement campaigns.

Before you go forth and meme, there is a catch. You truly need to be funny to make memes work with your marketing or you’ll miss the mark and drive your audience away.

They Produce Immediate Reactions

Memes spread virally because they’re easy to make, easy to share, and easy to understand. They’re quick and easy to digest, so if you do hit the mark, you need to be ready for near-instant gratification after you post.

This, of course, can be a good or bad thing. It’s great because of the potential visibility you gain, but the wrong meme can turn your world upside down in an instant. Many a business has suffered after posting memes with jokes in poor taste or outright offensive content. Be prepared to react quickly to the worst case scenario when using memes.

Memes Constantly Change

Memes have an exceptionally short lifespan; many die out within weeks or months. The best resurface months or years later, occasionally cropping up and giving you a sudden burst in organic reach. Still others take time before becoming widespread and relevant.

It’s crucial to have your marketing team be on top of the latest internet trends to get the most out of meme marketing. Your memes need to be relatable not only to your audience, but also to your business and how it operates all while being hilarious. Use them as needed, but avoid recycling unless it’s for sentimental purposes (“Remember this meme from when we were starting out? Look how far we’ve grown!”).

Preferences Can Be Individual

There’s no questioning the idea if memes work for marketing. The real question is are they appropriate for your company to use? Memes are inherently care-free and light-hearted. They may not be the best tool for your company to use if you need a more formal and professional outward appearance. For example, a hospital shouldn’t post funny memes about surgical failures or off-color jokes about people with certain illnesses. Likewise, a lawyer’s office who begins posting cat memes may find themselves with an audience full of raised eyebrows. If you wouldn’t make the joke at a conference among your peers or with a client, you shouldn’t make it in meme form either. To do so may harm your business’ image and product by taking on a campaign that mocks itself.

Companies that are willing to take a light-hearted approach to themselves can benefit from using memes. Is your business ready to increase its outreach? Go Digital WSI has experience with meme marketing and many other tools that will drive up your visibility and notoriety.