Wednesday 21 March 2018

Friday Five: Internet Memes – What You Should Know

Why it matters by Grace Lin

A meme typically conveys a universal truth in culture that people can identify with and can often participate in by providing examples of their own. It has the ability to spread through online social networks quickly. As such, brands often attempt to create Internet meme campaigns to boost brand equity and relevance among consumers.

Here are five factors you should know about Internet memes:

1. Timeliness

When creating a meme with a connection to a moment in pop culture, the popularity of the meme will be dependent on how quickly content is created and sent out into the web (many times within hours). For instance, during the Olympics, the ‘McKayla Is Not Impressed’ meme spread like wildfire when she won the silver medal in the vault competition after being the favorite to win gold. Her face during the award ceremony looked less than thrilled and the next day, McKayla’s “not impressed” face and crossed arms showed up across the web photoshopped in different scenarios.

There is also the opportunity to create your own meme, as in the case of Schick Xtreme3’s Razorbombing campaign*. Leveraging the inspiration of existing memes like planking, horse-manning and photo bombing – a new meme was born. Using photo-depth perception and a razor, the campaign created photos of razors “shaving” different objects in the world and encouraged users to do the same.

2. Don’t Force It

It is important that integration between the cultural trend and the product is seamless. For instance, Verizon Fios used an existing meme template and asked people to tell their story about breaking up with cable. Microsoft also poked fun at themselves and created a meme that talked about how old things can make a comeback – which they often do (

3. People Need to Know What You Are Talking About

A meme needs to communicate a universal truth and/or be identifiable by the mass consumer. For instance, several memes came out of the 2012 presidential election, and because a large population of the U.S. watched the debate, many could relate to the story each meme told.

4. Do Your Research – Know the Web Audience and Your Audience

Internet memes speak to a certain type of audience. They are typically younger, extremely Internet savvy and in-the-know consumers. It is important to ditch the marketing buzz words and adopt their voice. Certain meme focused sites and communities such as Reddit, 9gag and Buzzfeed in addition to Facebook and Twitter help spread the influence of these memes. Know these communities and learn to speak like them. In the case of Lululemon, they capitalized on a popular meme at the time “Sh*t Girls Say” in a way that spoke to the meme audience as well as their core audience (Yogis). Take a look here.

5. Seed it in the Right Places

Speaking of influential memed focused communities, seed the content strategically within these communities. It often helps to enlist the help of experts or media partners that know the audience and can co-create the content as well as distribute it in strategic ways.

A meme can be a powerful tool when executed correctly. Which brand memes have become your favorites?

*Edelman client

Viral image courtesy of Bigstock.

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