If you too spend a considerable amount of your social media time on tagging your friends on memes, if you too deliberately call memes as “may may”, if every other topical is a meme opportunity for you – then you, my friend, are a memester! Welcome to the Meme Generation – a laughing stock for some, a mockery for an opinionated lot and a viral content to capitalize on for marketers, Memes are here to stay.
But one might wonder “what are these memes? And from where did they come into being?” So much so that today, anything and everything becomes content for memes. From Shashi Tharoor’s highly verbose tweets to IPL teams’ performances, from an eye winking girl to a tea drinking aunty – everything is a meme content. Yet as intriguing as it may sound, memes have been around for decades now, much before the internet and the social media. As per an evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’s book “The Selfish Gene” (1976), memes originally represented the idea of “going viral” within a biological system or society.
The internet meme, that we today use commonly, can be defined as a fad, joke or a piece of content that stays long enough in the minds of its readers, that spreads virally across the webin the form of photos or videos with a clever and a catchy caption. Today with the advent of social media, and higher levels of internet penetration in the everyday usage of our lives, memes offer a unique kind of communal experience especially attracting the millennials.
Naturally, with a lot of people hooked on to Memes, brands have started jumping on the bandwagon to amplify their products.
Reasons why brands have started using memes for marketing:
Virality: Memes basically mean going viral. Creating campaigns that go viral on the social media not only is every marketer’s aim, but it also gives a good amount of organic reach with lesser expenditure on advertising. The focus is to make your audience engage with your content, and memes with their funny and sarcastic content give marketers not only impressions but actual engagement in terms of comments, shares, likes, etc.
Multiple Use cases: Whatever be the type of communication, be it for a brand’s product awareness or to communicate an important social message, memes serve a lot of purposes.
- Brand promotion:
Food delivering app Foodpanda recently used the “Hello Fraands Chai Pi Lo” line from the viral video of chai aunty (as the internet knows her) to promote its service.
- Product positioning
Pepsico recently started the “kyunsookhesookhe hi?” campaign where Pepsi has tried to position itself as a soft drink to have with the go-to Indian snacks. They used the “if you don’t…. then you don’t deserve me….” line which has gone viral on social media to create an engaging meme on the lines of their ongoing campaign.
- Influential message:
Mumbai Police’s twitter handle is very famous for using memes to spread civic awareness like the one in the above meme.
Engaging Audience: Another reason for brands using memes is to engage their audience and start a conversation. Since the turn of the century, marketers around the globe have attempted to make marketing communication a two-way process and what’s better than capitalizing on an ongoing trend?
- Put Chutney, a Chennai-based channel of Culture Machine posted a meme for World Idli day which got 8,000 likes, while the video had close to 1,000.
- Santhosh Palavesh, a digital marketer says, “For movies, close to 75 memes are posted per film and atleast 100 memes per day must be posted for politics. Also, for films, number of memes must increase closer to the release date. It takes a few minutes to make a meme, but it is quite a task to package everything within a picture and be different.”
- Uber Eats recently used the “Gormint or Gourmet?” taken from “Ye bikgayihaiGormint” line spoken by a lady in an interview video which went viral as a meme to engage with its audience and start a conversation. Generally, such viral content attracts more comments and shares organically than an ordinary product post.
Eliciting better audience reaction – A meme used to deliver a brand’s marketing communication is a way more creative, engaging and fun method for the audience to react positively or negatively for the brand. I myself have been engaging into digital marketing for my family business of renting ethnic garments in my hometown and here’s a comparison of a meme post and a normal post:
Notice how the first one which is a normal product post has reached to 248 people whereas the second one being a meme on the lines of “#SmartMenRent” has reached to over 1029 people.
How to capitalise on Meme Marketing?
It now seems clear as to why brands use memes, but how do they use memes is yet a questioned to be answered. Read on:
- Hopping on the back of existing memes: Netizens today are quick to catch on a fad. With increased ease of image editing softwares and apps, netizens convert every day incidents into memes. Brands can piggyback on these existing internet memes and thus capitalise on that. The recent “Chai Pi Lo” meme has been used by a lot of brands including Mumbai police, Amul, Foodpanda, etc.
- Creation of New Memes: While creating new memes can be a challenging task, brand marketers do look forward to do so as it brings in its own benefits. Doing so does require creativity and out of the box thinking, but successful campaigns can really work wonders in the favour of the brand. The use of jokes, wit, sarcasm, puns mixed with catchy phrase can help marketers create meme campaigns.
- Using Topicals: Marketers around the globe have been using topicals and news items to create a funny and engaging meme out of it. Amul has been using topicals for its outdoor hoardings which again finds a space on its social media handles.
Mad over marketing, a social media page promoting marketing once wrote this “The greatest minds of my generation are busy making people click on ads”. Well, if that is the case then memes are the best way to accomplish that without using click baits.