A war for minds is happening as new ideas struggle with old ones to shape our marketing. A new revolution of communication is taking place where we speak to other minds in real-time.
Memes are ideas in our brains that are spread from one person to another, and which affect our understanding. Crafting memes as part of marketing and advertising is a relatively new idea. Like DNA, word and pictures are tools to build memes.
Effective memes associated with a product or service, generate images, words and feelings in the brain that create a desire, meet a need or inspire action. Marketing is all about creating thoughts in people and memes have the capacity to do that most effectively.
Look at this Nike meme:
This meme is hard to forget and leaves a lasting impression – that’s what memes are meant to do.
The word “meme” comes from “mimeme,” a Greek word. This means “imitated thing.” The first definition of meme was in 1976, by scientist and author, Richard Dawkins.
A definition: Memes (those we see on the Internet today) refer to a funny image, a video, a quote or a phrase that people enjoy and goes viral all over the internet. Example, an image or video that contains a humorous caption.
One of the best and earliest examples of memes is the LOLcats series of memes, by a photographer called Harry Whittier Frees. He took pictures of his cats, superimposed words on them and turned them into greeting cards.
Marketers of today cannot force a promotional message on an audience. They have to find effective ways of convincing the audience to “give them the pleasure” of their attention. Audience is the be-all and end-all of any marketing campaign.
This can be done successfully by embracing new platforms and evolving with the changing internet culture. Using humor in advertisements is one of the most compelling ways of gaining attention today.
Internet memes are everything good advertising should be. They are witty, clever, memorable and highly contagious (viral?)
Many of the major brands have jumped onto the bandwagon of using memes in their marketing.
While they are totally different, memes are used in a way similar to how infographics are used to impress an idea upon a target audience.
You can read my article on Infographics by clicking here.
But mind you, the drawback with meme marketing is that they can backfire if not used properly. It’s almost like someone trying to be cool and ending up being embarrassed.
One of the best examples is that of McDonald’s failed memes. McDonald’s launched a Twitter campaign that was meant to inspire heart-warming stories related to Happy Meals. But it was attacked venomously with people bashing McDonalds from all directions
So basically, you’ve to be creative and come up with something your audience is going to fall in love with. The drawback with creating a meme that doesn’t do well is not just that, it also leaves a negative image about your business.
What McDonald’s failed meme campaign tells you is that Twitter just wasn’t the right place for warm stories. McDonalds realized its folly and tried stopping the campaign within a few hours, but what it didn’t realize was that social campaigns, once released, are not in your hands. Even today the campaign receives around 8 horror stories (tweets) a day.
That’s social networking for you. This should teach us marketers a valuable lesson about how social sites are and how careful we have to be with what we say and do.
Having intelligent and smart ideas is one thing but being creative is a totally different story. Memes are meant to be humorous while instilling ideas cleverly. You need to be able to make your message reach your audience and remain with them for a long time.
Get people to laugh with your meme. It should at least bring a smile to their faces. The best way of going about creating your own meme is to see hundreds of examples of successful memes, and shortlist those related to your theme. Don’t copy the memes but evaluate them to find out what led to their success. This should give you a good idea.
Ask friends and people to give you an honest feedback. Make this exercise a “must” before you let your meme go public.
Video memes: They can include dubbing over a familiar video or changing the sound in some way. Imitating familiar people can make a great meme. Remove their voice and add yours.
Image memes: This is also called a “macro” and is different from a photo meme. They consist of familiar photos or cartoons with superimposed captions. It could also be familiar text with a different image, like some famous quote on a photo.
Photo memes: They can be anything that shows a person imitating an action or position that people can recognize when they see it. Pictures of people holding up personal stories about healthcare and finances, like “I am Obamacare” were very popular politically, because the effects of passing a bill were represented by faces.
Word memes: A Twitter hashtag is also a sort of a meme when used properly. Use popular phrases and add your own twist.
No matter what your brand is, you can still create something funny. You’ve seen the Nike meme that says “Just do it” on an image that has nothing to do with the brand but a lot to do with the caption. Observe how wonderfully the message is conveyed.
Memes can be a great value addition to your content marketing efforts. Audience love sharing fun images and the more your meme gets shared, the better for your business. Every share gets you lots of backlinks and hundreds of leads.
I advised you not to copy, but one of the main approaches marketers are using today is to use a popular meme in progress for piggybacking. They create commercials, ads and also use them on websites to make the content more interesting. This can also take the form of superimposing text on an existing image.
As we all know, Chuck Norris jokes are highly popular. Blizzard Entertainment used them to promote an expansion of its super hit online game, World of Warcraft.
Here’s an example of superimposed text:
Now I prefer memescaping. I prefer memes that are created from scratch and yet manage to do a lot. But the problem with this is that many a time, even major brands fail dismally. I’ve seen some of the smaller marketers achieve great success. Maybe, it has more to do with being “human” and “fun,” rather than a having a huge advertising department working on this.
As an online marketer, you can come up with great ideas too. Just remember that memes are more of “imitation” in some form. The most popular places to share memes are social networks, Reddit and Tumblr.
Let me give you the good news now. You don’t have to be a designer to create memes. Take a look at this meme generator website which can be found here.
So you now have everything you need to generate your own memes and get started with meme marketing. Remember that marketing involved reaching out to people and connecting with them. One of the best ways to do so is with carefully crafted humor. Observe how other marketers are having success with memes and make your own target market specific memes. There is every possibility that with a little creativity you could have a viral meme on your hands which can give you a great deal of online visibility, increased traffic and a stronger brand.
Have you been using meme marketing in your overall marketing campaigns?