In the world of marketing and advertising, it is absolutely crucial for your brand to stay relevant. Even if you are offering the best product or service in the world, if your communication is not catchy or relevant to the consumer, in the sense that it evokes something inside them, chances are they will lose interest before you get to say what you have to say.
Another thing to note is it’s also important for brands to stay up to date on the different communication tools used to better reach their target audience and communicate with them. One way to do so is by creating memes and gifs that are memorable, deliver a clear message and can prompt a reaction out of the person receiving it.
Memes, gifs and Emojis have become, over the past few years, the most popular communication tools among internet users. The faster a brand learns and adapts to using them the more popular they become among internet users and the bigger the buzz the brand gets. This trend is inviting people to become less conventional and get more creative in the way they communicate with one another as well as the way they engage with the content that they see.
A meme, in essence, is a catchphrase, concept and sometimes a cultural reference pun, shared around for humorous purposes via the Internet. It can take the form of an image, gif or video. Gifs are usually seen in animated videos but they can still, however, be used with still images. Meanwhile, an emoji, according to the Myriam Webster Dictionary, is “any of various small images, symbols, or icons used in text fields in electronic communication (as in text messages, e-mail, and social media) to express the emotional attitude of the writer, convey information succinctly, communicate a message playfully without using words, etc.”
The word ‘meme’ is actually not new at all, it dates as far back as 1976, when Richard Dawkins, a biologist, first referred to it in his book ‘The Selfish Gene,’ to describe the circulation of ideas from one person to the other.
While the visual element is important on social media, it is not the real reason for the increasing popularity of memes. The widespread of memes is actually due to the sense of belonging it gives the person that sees it. It is not just about sharing a great picture with some text on it, but this text has to be relevant in a way to make you feel included like you are part of a community or group and that is why you get most of our ‘inside jokes’.
Why incorporate Memes, Emojis and Gifs in your marketing tools?
Because they put you back on the map where everyone can see you. With so many ads in the online scene, users tend to get overwhelmed and sometimes irritated with the amount of Ads that they see that their brain is now rewired to filter them out or in other cases they rely on adblockers to remove advertisements altogether. Now, Memes, Emojis and Gifs are breaking down those barriers.
The ‘meme language’ is new and fresh, it is also inconspicuous in nature and that is why it has succeeded in becoming the universal language spoken among Internet users. Memes have now become a valuable asset among people in the smartphone era where you can find people creating folders and saving memes to communicate through along with Emojis, sometimes even you would hear people saying things like how it sometimes takes them a bit longer to respond because they were looking for the perfect meme to reply with. That’s how hooked people have become to sharing memes and communicating through them.
Incorporating memes and Emojis in your online marketing strategy will make your brand seem fun and interesting and show the human side of your brand as well as help increase your share and engagement levels. Furthermore, memes will cost you nothing. You do not need to invest so much time or money in producing original images or videos. The graphics are already out there for your disposal, all you need to do is to think of a creative way to use it to your brand’s favour or as part of a campaign.
While it may seem like an easy tool to navigate, it is actually quite tricky. Here’s why, a meme is almost always used as a form of social commentary, which is why it involves a lot of mockery and sarcasm as they are used to ridicule certain social or cultural events and mock human behaviour, so you must watch out for you want to be perceived as funny and not insulting.
Similarly, an emoji, when used the right way, can significantly boost your ads and posts. But if misused, it can easily misguide and sidetrack your audience. Below are some guides on how to integrate the use of memes in your social media strategy as well as highlight a few of things you need to look out for when coming up with your own content.
- To Promote Your Products/Services
Among the reasons for the brand for using memes in their marketing is to promote their products. The way different brands approach it may vary and some use it better than others, but the main aim remains the same.
Take Netflix as an example, they have created @netflixisajoke, a separate Instagram account that is dedicated to only publishing memes, where they use their own content to create memes.
Brands like Gucci were also quick to join the ‘meme movement’ where they launched a meme campaign that is all about sporting their new watch collection, publishing different pieces of art that display their product with text over them that stresses on the need to buy and have the new Gucci watch, except in a new or light manner.
- To Increase Brand Awareness
Some brands on the other hand leverage the ‘meme game’ to increase their brand awareness by simply sharing entertaining and easy to comprehend the content on their social media pages.
BarkBox, a monthly subscription service that delivers a monthly box of dog products to dog owners, have adopted the meme trend but instead of sharing content that promotes their product they have focused on creating content that their target audience finds entertaining and with 1.6 million followers Instagram, it seems like the brand strategy has paid off!
Instead of sharing posts that featured their products they focused on sharing humorous content that included dog quotes and memes that their audience found amusing, even post-pandemic when the brand was being socially responsible and taking part in reminding people to always wear their facemasks, they did it their way.
- Choose The Perfect Timing
Handling a meme can be tricky because there is this fine line between funny and rude that you do not want to cross. Usually, a good pun or meme might be taken the wrong way and perceived as insulting solely due to wrong timing as is the case with all jokes, so you must be clever when using memes in order not only to pick up on new trends but to have a sense of when you can use them to your favour and when, if ever, it is bad timing.
Brand strategists behind campaigns that go viral realize the significance of right timing. Seamless, a food delivery service, is a great example for this, where they leveraged the 2014 Oscar nominations announcement and came up with #OscarNomNoms campaign, a campaign that included a series of Oscar film spoof posters that featured food and beverage.
A great example of how to take advantage of events happening around you to create memes and trending content.
- Raise Awareness About an Issue
Sometimes brands use memes or Emojis to raise awareness about a cause. If we look at the World Wildlife Fund’s emoji campaign, the goal was to raise awareness about the endangered species where all Twitter users had to was to make a symbolic donation by tweeting one of the Emojis that the WWF had partnered with Twitter to create that denote the endangered animals.
When using Emojis and memes always try to keep it simple!
Do not fall in the trap of trying to make things a little brainier because chances are no one will get it. Remember Internet users have short attention spans that why you need to keep it fresh, fun yet short and simple. Unlike the great examples mentioned above in the article, Chevrolet completely struck out when they released a press release that is written entirely in Emojis. It was too long and too hectic for the audience to decode and thus failed miserably.
Key Points here are:
- Do your research! Study the meme first so you can properly use it.
- Keep it short, simple and to the point.
- Stay up to date on the latest news, events or trends happening around you.
- Go back to the brand and make sure the memes you are using are aligned with the brand’s tone of voice.
- Go over it one more time and make sure you haven’t crossed the line between funny and offensive.
And in case your content after being published still manages to offend a certain group of people, understand that this is okay and might happen but what is important then is that you:
- Take full responsibility and own up to your mistakes.