As any social media marketer knows, the key to good social media marketing is being able to make a connection with your audience. If you want to connect with potential customers on the internet you have to first immerse yourself in internet culture. How familiar are you with Annoyed Piccard, Imminent Ned, Satisfied Seal, or Rage Comics? These days, it’s hard to scroll down your newsfeed without coming across at least one meme. Memes have the potential to spread like wildfire across the vast space of the internet and clever marketers have been quick to use these viral pieces of content to their advantage. Some companies have hit the jackpot and earned widespread attention from online consumers through meme marketing (Think Most Interesting Man In The World, Grumpy Cat, and Left Shark). The art of hijacking popular memes for marketing purposes has become known as memejacking.
However, there are a lot of marketers and social media managers out there who have been slow to adopt the art of memejacking. There are several reasons why there might be hesitation towards memejacking, but one of the reasons we hope to eliminate with this post is a general lack of understanding towards memes and internet culture.
What are Memes?
First off, in case you were wondering it’s pronounced ‘meem’ and not ‘mimi’ or ‘me-may.’ The word meme was first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976. A meme as defined by Dawkins is a, “package of culture.” Pre-internet this meant things like regional sayings, fashion, and architecture. These are styles, concepts, and behaviors that are infinitely replicable. For instance, Greek Columns are an architectural meme that has been transferred across cultures and generations.
Memes as we know them today are simply humorous images, videos, and pieces of text that are copied and spread across the internet. The most popular type of meme is what’s known as an image macro which is a picture superimposed with humorous text over it.
Memejacking for social media marketing is beyond awesome for so many different reasons. If you’re a marketer who isn’t yet on board with memes, you will be after reading these benefits.
1) They’re Already Viral
Why create something from scratch and hope it goes viral when you can piggyback off of the success of something that’s already viral? A concept isn’t classified as a meme unless it’s fun, engaging, and wildly popular. That’s one of the biggest reasons why memes are fantastic marketing tools.
2) They’re Great Content For Social Media
With Instagram recently opening up its advertising platform, marketers have been rushing to better utilize the social media app they had previously been neglecting. Visuals perform well across all platforms, but Instagram in particular is a platform built around visual content. Memes are an engaging form of visually oriented content that is made for sharing across all social media platforms, including Instagram. Trying to come up with an ad to utilize Instagram advertising? Why not use a meme?
3) They’re Magnets For Traffic, Likes, and Links
Because memes are so share-worthy, they naturally generate traffic and visibility to your social media accounts. Memes attract +1, likes, repins, comments, and shares like crazy making it more likely that your social content will gain traction in social media and spread. Furthermore, when memes are used on your website or blog, you’ll reap the benefits of added traffic and inbound links.
4) They’re Effortless To Create
For inbound marketers, content creation is a daily job. With so much of your marketing campaign depending on content (and fresh, new content at that,) having some quick, easy-to-create types of content at your disposal is a marketer’s dream come true.
How Can I Create A Meme
Creating a meme is as simple as taking a popular image and brainstorming relevant, humorous text to impose over it. Memes typically use Impact font in white, bold, and all caps, with a black stroke. If you don’t have Photoshop, there are several websites like memeful.com that will allow you to effortlessly create your own memes using a selection of the most popular image macros.
If there’s one thing you want to avoid, it’s a memejacking fail caused by a lack of understanding for the core components of the meme. Each meme has a theme or an outline that you’ll want to preserve when creating your own branded version of the meme. In order to help you create your own memes, we’ve outlined 18 of the top memes and how to correctly use them below.
1) Futurama Fry
Being that we’re huge fans of Futurama at the office, this happens to be one of our favorite memes. Futurama Fry is a screenshot of Fry with his eyes squinted taken from an episode of Futurama. The captions follow the formula, “Not sure if (x) or just (y).”
2) Bad Luck Brian
The image for the Bad Luck Brian meme series was taken from an elementary school year book and posted online. The top caption of the meme typically outlines a scenario while the bottom line gives the bad luck that follows.
3) Skeptical Baby
The photo for Skeptical Baby was taken by North Carolina family photographer, Jarod Knoten. The image macro features a baby with a raised eyebrow and a caption that typically begins with, “You mean to tell me…” While this meme series originally focused on describing various realizations acquired upon entering preadolescence, it can really be used to highlight any type of skepticism, including skepticism consumers might have about your brand.
4) One Does Not Simply
The phrase “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” originated from Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In the scene being referenced, the Council of Elrond reveals that an evil ring must be destroyed by being thrown into the fires of a volcano within Mordor. Upon revelation, Boromir points out the difficulty of the task. Likewise, One Does Not Simply memes highlight the unexpected difficulty of various daily tasks.
5) I Don’t Always
This is a meme that hasn’t been jacked by marketers, but rather stemmed out of a marketing campaign. I Don’t Always memes originated from The Most Interesting Man In The World ads for Dos Equis beer. The captions follow the phrasal template, “I don’t always (x), but when I do I (y).”
6) First World Problems
First World Problem memes highlight frustrations and complaints only experienced by privileged individuals in first world countries. The memes typically feature a stock photo of a girl crying along with a first world problem.
7) Condescending Wonka
Condescending Wonka is an image macro taken from the 1971 musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As the name of the meme suggests, the captions can be characterized as patronizing and sarcastic.
8) Imminent Ned
If you’ve watched HBO’s series Game of Thrones, then you’re familiar with Eddard “Ned” Stark. Imminent Ned’s caption template, “Brace yourselves, (x) is coming.” can be used to forewarn or proclaim to your followers the impending arrival of a highly anticipated event or product.
9) That Would Be Great
We’ve all seen the 1999 comedy film, Office Space (If you haven’t then shame on you.) That Would Be Great memes feature the character Bill Lumbergh. The captions for the image mimic Lumbergh’s non-confrontational form of speech making requests ending with, “That’d be great.”
10) Success Kid
Success Kid was taken from a photo of a child at the beach clutching sand. The child has been used in image macros to describe a situation that results in either success or frustration.
In 2o12, British media company Virgin Media ran billboards featuring Success Kid and the feeling of success attributed to switching providers to Virgin Media.
11) Y U No?
Y U No Guy is an image macro series with SMS lingo and carefree grammar that calls attention to a particular subject or issue. The unique facial expression worn by the stick figure has been traced back to Japanese anime series, Gantz. The original face can be seen in the comic below.
Unlike many memes which are very specific in use, Y U NO Guy is a versatile meme that’s easy to adapt to your own brand.
12) Grumpy Cat
Grumpy Cat is the nickname given to Tardar Sauce, a snowshoe cat that rose to online fame after pictures of her annoyed facial expressions were posted to Reddit. Grumpy Cat memes are accompanied with things that make people grumpy or unhappy (like Mondays.)
In 2013, American pet food company Nestle Purina announced Grumpy Cat would be the official ‘spokescat’ for their Friskies cat food brand. Grumpy Cat appeared at the annual Friskies Cat Video Contest Awards and was given a lifetime achievement award.
13) Conspiracy Keanu
Conspiracy Keanu is an advice animal image macro featuring a screenshot of Keanu Reeves from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure wearing a frightened expression on his face. The images are typically paired with paranoid conjectures and absurdly philosophical questions that are sometimes similar in nature to the Philosoraptor series.
What if a philosopher and a velociraptor were combined into one being? The result would be a Philosoraptor, who sits deeply immersed in metaphysical inquiries. Philosoraptor memes challenge readers with deep, existential, and paleolithic questions. Do you have a deep question you’ve been dying to ask your social community? Ask it with a Philosoraptor meme!
15) Confession Bear
Confession Bear is an animal advice macro series featuring a sad looking Malayan sun bear leaning up against a log. The images are typically captioned with confessions of taboo behaviors or controversial opinions (Like a love for Nickleback) that are often kept secret for fear of being ostracized.
16) Schrute Facts
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you’ve seen at least one episode of the work place comedy series, The Office. Schrute Facts is a macro series inspired by the character Dwight Schrute from The Office. Dwight is a character well known for being a know-it-all rationalist and survivalist with poor social skills. In the show, Dwight often corrects others’ statements by deeming them false and rebutting with real-life facts. Similarly, Schrute Facts memes take a statement and correct them with ‘facts’.
17) Joseph Ducreux
Joseph Ducreux was an eighteenth century French artist known for his unorthodox style of portrait painting. His eccentric self portrait has inspired a series of exploitable macros featuring old English reinterpretations of popular rap lyrics. For instance, the meme above is a reinterpretation of the saying, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” If you don’t happen to know any rap lyrics you could use this meme to turn just about anything into an old English phrase. Does your company have a slogan or mission statement? Why not transform that into a Joseph Ducreux meme?
18) Forever Alone
Forever Alone is part of the rage comics series and is considered the first major rage comic spin-off character to be created after the original Rage Guy. The Forever Alone face is used in scenarios in which a person might find themselves…well, forever alone.
The marketing geniuses at Sony Mobile Communications (formerly Sony Ericsson) used Forever Alone Guy in advertisements for their Xperiathon campaign, which was dubbed, “The Loneliest Marathon In The World.”
A Word Of Caution
Memes often burn out as fast as they gain popularity and you don’t want to be the uncool brand that came to the party late. Before using a meme you’ll want to perform a quick Google search to find out if it’s still relevant and in use. You’ll also want to make sure you fully understand the theme associated with the meme, as many memes are associated with risque or off color jokes. We can’t stress enough the importance of fully understanding a meme in order to prevent a meme fail that could seriously damage your brand image.
The best approach is to simply keep on top of internet trends and culture. Listen through your social media news feeds and try to search out memes that appear to be gaining in popularity. Once you’ve found a meme that’s either on the verge of virality or has just become viral, find a way to put your own brand spin on it and post it to your social channels. Some brands are actually going above and beyond and creating their own memes.
Ikea Singapore created the Shelf Help Guru who answers interior decorating questions on the brands Facebook page. Protein Bar likes to take screenshots from popular movies like the Titanic and the Lion King and insert their healthy fast food meals into them with a hilarious caption.
Above all, the key to creating a successful marketing meme is comedy. The most engaging and shareable memes are funny. Do you have a favorite meme? Feel free to share it in the comments below! We could always use a good laugh.