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  • Writer's pictureAlen Belavic

A marketers guide to Meme marketing

Keeping up with the trends

In the era of so many ads all over the internet no wonder humans evolved so called banner blindness where we don´t see unconsciously or consciously banner shaped ads. Millennials spend over 200 minutes online everyday, combined with Gen Z, and with the meme virality thrown in the mix, brands have plenty of opportunities to engage with their base. New and innovative ways of getting peoples attentions have emerged, one of which was marketing through the humor. Marketing with a humor with a familiar media can engage even those hard-to-reach consumers, and the meme marketing was born.

The origins of meme

Famous outspoken atheist, evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins coined the word meme as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena in his book The Selfish gene in 1976.

Meme is a shortening of Ancient Greek mimeme, "imitated thing". It is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.

Internet memes grew as a concept in the mid 1990´s but really blew up in the early 2000´s with the rise of platforms like 4chan and 9gag. Some of the most popular memes off all time to this day are Grumpy Cat, Success Kid, Scumbag Steve, Its a Trap, The Most Interesting Man, Squinting Fry, Condescending Wonka, Bad Luck Brian, One Does Not Simply and countless more.

How to do Meme Marketing Right

Meme marketing can be an extremely low-cost way to create engaging content. Across industries, more marketers are using memes to build community, relate to their audience, and stick in their followers’ memory. Not all brands can pull off meme marketing, and thats OK - its not for everyone.

Memes play off of content with a defined structure so they are easy to make if you know what you are doing, but can be disastrous and backfire if you don´t. It is important to find the balance between being promotional - in line with your brand and relatable to your audience. The goal with meme marketing isn't to sell, it is to promote indirectly and hopefully - virally. Knowing your target audience goes a long way in success of meme marketing, what some people find funny others won´t.

Know your meme

Before you start creating your brand memes try to consume as many memes as you can so you get the feel for it. It is like driving a bicycle, the more you do it the better you get.

Steps to take

  • Find meme formats that are on point with your brand,

  • Develop your meme library,

  • Test memes on friends,

  • See what the big boys are doing

  • For warm up you can share someones else meme that is relatable to your brand

  • When you get the hang of it you can create your own formats as a spin on known formats

  • Don´t worry if you don´t have graphic design skills, or high-res image - memes are enjoyed even in low-resolution DIY style.

There are a lot of sites with meme generators and meme makers as well that can help you get started.

Memes are entertaining, and that helps foster community among your followers. If done successfully they create a sense of belonging because your followers can relate to the situation you refer to with a meme and everyone´s in on the joke. One of the famous companies that know how to do meme marketing right is Netflix with their numerous takes on pop culture through their original content. Netflix movie Bird Box is a good example where a Bird Box meme went viral and even started an unwanted Bird Box Challenge where people would blindfold themselves and perform regular tasks in a not so safe way that Netflix had to respond with a tweet.

source: Twitter Netflix

But it doesn't have to be on Netflix level, just look at this brilliant original meme done by a Jimmy John´s sandwich shop, simple, on point, compatible with their brand. If they can do it, so can you.



Memes have arrived and they are here to stay, might as well get with the program and see how your brand can benefit from meme marketing potential. Meme related content is popping all over internet, from Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Pintrest, Twitter, and even LinkedIN. There are more people than ever creating and consuming memes on the web so there is enormous potential for brand development. Many brands are using memes as an effective tool for their marketing strategies. Its time your brand gets down to business and become the next big meme sensation.

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