Meme Marketing – What’s All the Hype?

Wait, you don’t know what memes are?  Well, thankfully I’m here to pull you out from under that rock and into the great world of meme marketing.  It’s really quite fun, and it counts as marketing.  That’s a win-win in my book (hey, it makes my life as an Internet marketer a whole lot more interesting!).

Meme of a hipster dog with caption "I Was Cute Before It Was Mainstream".
Meme marketing plays off of the virility of interesting content.

What are memes?

In short, memes are ideas, symbols or behaviors that spread naturally throughout a culture (usually but not always online)… like an inside joke, or a virus.  The goal of a meme is to “go viral” and spread like wildfire through a community, with the very members of the community being the ones to spread the concept… like big hair in the ‘80s and body glitter in the ‘90s.

Memes usually take the form of a visual such as a picture or video, but  they can also show up as a hashtag, a simple word or phrase, or a trend.

Marketing with memes

While the concept of memes is nothing new, meme marketing has sprung up so quickly in the recent months as more and more companies realize the potential here.

People love pictures.  People love humor.  Combine the two and you get nothing short of brilliance: you get meme marketing.  And memes are just a representation of a larger evolution in content marketing: visual content marketing.  By placing a greater emphasis on the creative – visual – design aspect of content, you are showing your community just who you are, what you stand for, and how you relate to them.  Marketing with memes = catering to your audience.

But it’s important to note that time is not a meme’s best friend.  Just like a trend fades away, a meme will eventually and inevitable be replaced by something more current and more popular.

Marketing with great memes

Great memes are absorbed by a community, and whenever a brand can get their message across virally – with minimal effort on their part, leaving all of the work to their community – that’s a good thing.

It should make sense that memes need to be noticeable.  They need to grab the community’s attention, be relatable in some way, encourage discussion and elicit strong emotional reactions.  You want people to feel important by being a part of them.  But more than that, great memes are memorable.  They need to pass the initial test of being interesting – marketing with memes is a successful endeavor when the thought “catches on” and continues to spread.

Great memes are those that have a long lifespan (for memes).  We know that time works against memes, but when you have a great meme on your hands, you’ll get far more out of it.  When you’re positioning your meme so that it relates to your audience, don’t make it so targeted to a niche group that it doesn’t get enough attention or virility.  Arm yourself with a meme that’s specific but not too specific, and just general enough so that many people can relate to it.

Great memes are addictive.  Whether you like them or not, you should seriously consider their potential from a marketing perspective.  Yes, certain memes can fizzle and die out, that being their nature.  But they are powerful and influential while they’re here, and the concept of memes isn’t going anywhere anytime soon – it’s been around since the ‘70s.

What are your favorite memes?  Have you experimented with memes in your marketing strategy?  Share your thoughts below!

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About the author : Vision Advertising

Vision Advertising is a full-service marketing agency enhancing the online brand presence of business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies across the US. We focus on providing custom marketing services to address unique client needs, customer profiles, and budgetary concerns, created in-house by our team of skilled marketing specialists. This author profile is used for deattributed posts or when content is posted to this blog without comment.