February 18, 2020 Last updated March 13th, 2020 1,419 Reads share

Meme Marketing – Is it Really a Thing?

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For quite some time now, businesses, starting with small enterprises to big corporations along with public figures and politicians have been using marketing activities to help their brands grow. It has since become an industry that drives revenues and boosts profit. Initially, marketing mainly covered advertisements in printed media, leaflets and banners, later joined by radio and television. Live broadcasting with commercial cuts truly revolutionized the way advertising used to work but new eras bring new challenges.

With immense technological development in the last 2 decades, internet marketing became almost inevitable for businesses, big or small. At first, company websites became an absolute essential but later, as social media networks started to develop, new possibilities arose. Some of the biggest social media websites attract an unimaginable number of users, for example, as of February 2020, Facebook has more than 2,45 billion active monthly users, whereas Instagram has roughly 1 billion and Twitter 330 million. Enormous numbers portrayed are only increasing and more people use the internet daily than ever before.

Demographics of the Modern-Day Internet

One more critical aspect of the internet world and social media users its demographics. The majority of people active on the internet are young, representing so-called Millenials as well as a rapidly growing number of Generation Z. This fact acquires even more importance after the habits of this group of young people are taken into account. According to the Global Web Index, an average Generation Z-er spends approximately 3 hours on social media each day. Moreover, they are already known to be big spenders. In fact, they spend more than any generation ever before, with an estimated purchasing power of $143 billion in the United States alone.

It is expected that soon Generation Z-ers will become the biggest consumer group in history. Considering their ‘love-love’ relationship with social media, internet marketing represents an extraordinary opportunity for every company to grow customer base and target younger demographic groups around the world.

What Are Memes?

Internet trends have shaped the marketing of almost every field of business for the past decade. The establishment of MySpace, once a popular social media channel led to discovering many internet personalities and helped companies advertise their products or services on the internet. Today, the era, when MySpace was almost the only major platform for social interaction on the internet is over. A whole diverse range of networks provides a space for popular trends we have never seen before.

A meme is an idea, generally a funny one, represented through the form of media, mostly pictures or videos but anything beyond as well. They are commonly accompanied by relevant texts and sometimes carry a sense of sarcasm with them. Memes quickly became an internet sensation and are frequently used for communication and banter among friends.

No one knows exactly when the concept was created or when the already-existing notion of a meme was converted into something widely acknowledged, but we can certainly see when it began to gain momentum. According to Google Trends’ search chart, the years 2010 and 2011 are when the interest for memes was suddenly sparked among internet users. Since then, they have established a firm ground on the internet, shaping itself as a crucial part of the online culture and are shared by millions on a daily basis. They are popular among a variety of groups online, notably among the gaming communities. Internet memes help communities become better bonded and sometimes even bring popularity to them.

What Is so Special About Memes?

The whole internet’s laughter is driven by memes today. They are reacted to, shared and modified by many. The good thing is that they are likely to have a long lifespan, meaning that the same content can be used in different contexts a few times. Importantly, every meme you look at has something personal, something that many people can relate to. The sense of familiarity with situations embodied in memes is essential for their success. They do not have an owner and anyone can use them. No one will file a copyrights claim because of an internet meme. Young people love them and the older are starting to fall in love as well. So why would businesses not take their chances using these hilarious pieces floating around the web to promote their products? After all, it is almost free.

Meme Marketing at a Glance

Promoting business with ‘funny pictures with relatable titles’ would have sounded insane not long ago, but as companies realized the unlimited possibilities of meme marketing, they quickly started to utilize it. So, is it a reality now? Today, some of the world’s leading corporations use memes to promote themselves on the internet and their efforts are mostly paying off.

However, with memes, it is a hit or miss. Modern-day internet users, especially Generation Z-ers are very sensitive towards brand marketing. They never stop at branded advertisements and can easily sense businesses behind niche campaigns. Since branding causes frustration among young people, which often are the target audience for campaigns, marketers should be careful not to overstep the line.

Disaster Meme Marketing Trends

Memes are not always a part of something great or something positive. Let’s take one of the most notorious scams as an example. The Bitconnect scam that was rampant in 2017 was one of the first cases where the new blockchain technology found itself inside the meme world. Due to a very “special” conference that the company held, the internet community started to use the overly emotional performance of one of the hosts as a meme, thus landing Bitconnect in the eyes of millions of people.

Although Bitconnect turned out to be a scam, companies quickly noticed just how much traction can be gained from such small hints of humor. Ever since then companies in the blockchain industry, for example, the Bitcoin evolution app started to use memes as a way to put out fires in some of their PR segments. Most customers tend to recall Bitconnect whenever they decide to involve themselves in the blockchain, and humor seems to melt their fears away quite easily. Let’s take a look at some successful and positive meme campaigns to outline the point.

Notable Meme Marketing Campaigns

One of the most striking examples of a successful meme marketing campaign is Netflix. The world’s leading media-services provider initially started posting memes on their social media channels about their products. The immense attention was brought to Netflix through the meme campaign accompanying the premiere of the acclaimed movie “Bird Box”. People on social media that had never heard about it came across memes about the film and decided to check it out.

Netflix still actively advertises its movies, TV shows, and comedy specials through memes. Their meme marketing campaign “Netflixisajoke” is now followed by more than 1.1 million people on Instagram. The company uses informal language on its social media channels, which has helped it establish special trust among its audience.

Another example is BarkBox, well-known for its monthly subscription boxes for pets. Their meme campaign on Instagram made the company an internet sensation. BarkBox managed to create content that is loved among the members of its target audience.

However, as mentioned above, it is important to mind that nowadays, internet users are quite sensitive about marketing campaigns. Many companies, including Mcdonald’s, have previously failed to make the most out of their meme marketing opportunities.

Although major companies are now planning and utilizing their meme marketing campaigns, some are unintentional, yet highly beneficial even for gigantic corporations. Apple’s AirPods have caused continuous waves of memes on social media, making fun of almost all of its characteristics from the shape to the price tag.

How Long Until a New Trend?

Well-planned and executed meme marketing campaigns can be highly beneficial for companies. However, being careful when selecting the content for today’s highly sensitive audience is crucial. This gift from the internet world can be used as a big advantage to establish informal, friendly communication with your followers and increase the influence on social media. The web is a rather unpredictable place. New trends might spread around the world in a matter of seconds, but with the current popularity of memes, they are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

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Giorgi Mikhelidze

Giorgi Mikhelidze

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