People today see countless memes on their timeline. Whether it be from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit threads, TikToks, or more, memes are everywhere! If you didn’t know, the average person spends around 2 hours on social media every day (Deyan, 2021). That’s a lot of time to see countless memes appear on your timeline. Should you not know what a meme is, it is usually a visual image (however, it can be video or text) and is encompassed with some text that relates to a pop-culture reference. Memes are an excellent way for people to express humour, and as a result, have connected millions of people worldwide through sharing, creating, re-posting, commenting, and liking on a plethora of social media platforms. This in turn, has created a meme culture that has grown exponentially in recent years. As a result, some companies are now taking to the idea known as meme marketing.
Meme marketing is a powerful digital marketing strategy in which companies use existing memes or viral content and tailor them to fit their brand position and image. The idea of this digital marketing strategy is to connect with your audience on social media and boost engagement. This resonates well with companies who are focused on millennials and generation Z, as these consumers are especially interested in funny, organic content that they can share with their friends. According to ZDNet, 74% of people say they send memes to make their friends smile and 35% said they would send them to show how they’re feeling (Brown, 2017). The biggest opportunity that comes with using meme marketing is that it is inexpensive and has a high percentage of going viral. It is considered inexpensive as you are just using an existing meme template that was created by someone else and refining it to suit the needs of your brand. In terms of going viral, this is a major benefit as it can translate into more brand awareness and brand exposure, something that all companies wish to have more of. While one meme may go viral, it is important to note that not all memes or meme marketing strategies are guaranteed to go viral, and that it takes time and work to ensure that the strategy will be effective.
Furthermore, memes are great for brands and as a marketing tool because they allow the company to humanize their interactions by acting as if they have an authentic voice. This is important to younger generations and as such, businesses have been redefining their marketing strategy to cater to those needs. Below, let’s look at some successful examples of companies using meme marketing strategies to their advantage.
It's already going to be October in 2 days
Thanksgiving Starter Pack
Just Squid Things
The first example we’re going to look at is Netflix. In fact, the company has social media accounts titled “Netflix Is A Joke” to provide funny interactive content with their followers. The page (active on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) posts meme related content with a twist. Instead of using memes from pre-existing viral templates, Netflix creates memes using content from their own shows. This helps promote their shows, while also creating more consumer engagement. For instance, Netflix’s Squid Game has quickly become an internet sensation, making it one of the most viewed TV shows ever. As such, the company decided to make a meme regarding one of the iconic challenges in the show while connecting it to their other show, Stranger Things. If you’re unfamiliar with this meme, in Squid Game the contestants must choose a shape and then cut it out from the tin. Tying it to Stranger Things, the character Eleven’s favourite food are eggos. As such, these two images are tied together via the challenge in Squid Game. This is a unique twist on meme marketing as Netflix’s content is center stage of the joke, something that you don’t see a majority of companies initiating.
The Legend of Pizza Breath Of The Garlic
No one: Our DMs:
Domino’s Pizza is the next company we are going to be looking at. The company is known for their wittiness and humour regarding meme marketing. The pizza chain has also been known to create unique designs for the memes they post on their social media pages. For example, when the new Legend of Zelda game was released, the company tweeted a Zelda meme that was custom created and based specifically for Domino’s. This meme garnered huge engagement, raking in almost 10,000 retweets and over 15,000 likes. Looking at the other memes posted, the company enjoys poking fun at people who can’t distinguish Domino’s from dominoes. The company is quick to clarify that their users are spelling their name wrong, something that is enjoyed by their followers. While the engagement on these memes are not as high as the Zelda based pizza meme, these are still quality memes that have solid engagement.
Cowboys can't be sexy
$25 for something for my dog
After eating one salad every six months
Barkbox is the third company we are going to examine. The company is a subscription service for dog owners and utilizes dog memes to their advantage. As such, they use cute and funny dog memes to engage with their audience. This is evident when looking at the Instagram post of the dog in the banana costume and the dog in the cowboy hat. By providing cute and funny dog memes, the company can engage with their audience and have their followers like, comment, and tag their friends. However, the company is known to use pre-existing meme templates from time to time. For example, looking at the tweet the company posted on September 20, 2019, the company followed a popular meme that encompasses stating two things, one with a look of disgust, and the other with a look of approval/acceptance. While the engagement isn’t nearly as high as the other memes, it is still the case of a successful example of meme marketing.
Chipotle Free Halloween Costume Ideas
Alright try reading line 11 for me now
How do you eat your burrito bowl?
When there's $2.50 left in your bank account
The final company we are going to look at is Chipotle. Chipotle successfully utilizes memes to create engagement and conversations through their social media pages. For example, as Halloween is approaching quickly, the company decided to post about free Halloween costume ideas based on chipotle customers and employees. One could choose to dress up as a clown (someone who reaches over the counter), a ghost (the chipotle date that never texted you back), the angel (heavy-handed chipotle employee), or others. This was a successful meme post as it received a great deal of engagement and was relevant to the company and its customers. Provoking conversation is another successful tool that Chipotle utilizes through meme marketing. For instance, there has been serious debate regarding how one eats their burrito bowl (whether it be side to side or mixed). Personally, I’m more of a side-to-side guy but I do mix every now and then. It is through this engagement that Chipotle utilizes memes to engage and provoke their customers, ultimately trying to garner a reaction out of them.
After analyzing the examples, it is evident that meme marketing is a successful tool when marketing to younger generations on social media. However, it is important that marketers who do utilize meme marketing keep in mind a few considerations. Firstly, it is important to know what is trending and keep up with the latest trends. Timeliness is a major aspect of meme marketing, and it is important to utilize a meme at the most optimal time for it to go viral. If you can tailor a popular meme at the time for your brand, there is a higher chance that it will go viral. Another thing to keep in mind is that it is good to know who your customers are and what meme content they enjoy. If you were to scroll back up and look at the examples above, you would see that all the examples from the companies best suit their customers. It is critical that the memes resonate and connect with your customers, otherwise it seems as though the company is trying too hard and is forcing a reaction. Overall, meme marketing is an excellent tool for marketers to gain more engagement and boost potential exposure for the company. This tool can let one connect with their audience and earn a reaction from them as well. Understanding pop culture references and what memes are trending is an excellent way to get ones foot in the door when it comes to this digital marketing topic!
Brown, E. (2017). The maths behind the memes: Why we share on social media. Retrieved from https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-maths-behind-the-memes-why-we-share-on-social-media/
Deyan, G. (2021). How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media in 2021? Retrieved from https://techjury.net/blog/time-spent-on-social-media/#gref