The internet is the most powerful global communications tool ever invented. With just a device and a connection, we can speak our minds to audiences all over the world — but sometimes, words aren’t enough to convey what we need to say. Sometimes, the most authentic way to express yourself is through a picture of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills yelling at a cat across a dinner table. When words fail, there’s always a meme to get your message across.
But we’re not quite at the point where diplomatic cables and formal letters are delivered in meme formats (yet). For the most part, we share memes because they make us laugh. There is, however, one arena where memes have proven they are more than just throwaway gags — marketing. If you want your buyers to notice and positively remember you, memes can be a valuable part of your social media marketing strategy.
Why use memes for marketing? Because people love them. They’re funny. They take almost no time to digest. They’re easy to share if you need a quick, easy way to make a friend or colleague laugh. Marketers know that getting through to younger audiences is vital to their long-term success. For these audiences, memes are an indispensable part of online communication. In fact, 38% of Millennials and 64% of Gen Z-ers follow dedicated meme accounts on social media. Meme-based discourse isn’t going anywhere — so you might as well embrace it.
What are memes?
If you were trying to explain memes to somebody who doesn’t spend too much time online, you might call them something like “funny internet pictures.” While not every funny picture is a meme, just about anything can become a meme, whether it starts as funny or not.
Back in the pre-internet era, the biologist Richard Dawkins coined the word “meme” to describe ideas and concepts that get transmitted among cultures, mutating along their journey in the same way that genes do. Somewhere along the line, the word was applied to images shared, captioned, and remixed online.
Over the years, the meme format has been refined to a purer essence. While recurring meme characters and frameworks are still widely used, many of the memes you see today are just an image with some plain text explaining the particular feeling or situation that the images evoke.
When memes capture something that’s otherwise hard to express in a funny, ironic, or deeply relatable way, they take off like wildfire.
What is meme marketing?
The simple idea behind meme marketing is to use memes as part of your social media content by tying them into your branding. Three-quarters of all internet users between the ages of 13 and 26 share memes with their contacts. This statistic means that you’re likely to see some free, organic distribution if you post a good meme.
That said, it’s best to go viral for the right reasons, and the internet has never stopped enjoying a good old-fashioned epic fail. The danger of a misfired meme is that you’ll shoot past “funny” and “relatable” and land squarely on “cringe.” Like meme humor itself, cringe is not always the most straightforward concept to define. It basically means that you were trying too hard, you didn’t get what made the original meme funny in the first place, and you look corny and out-of-touch. It’s rather like Steve Buscemi wandering around a high school, trying to win the trust of his “fellow kids.”
Top 11 Social Media Meme Ideas and Tools for 2021
A benefit of using memes in your social media marketing is that they’re fast and cheap to produce – and there are lots of great tools available that make it easy to participate in whatever the hot meme of the week is. Here’s a list of some tools and ideas to get your meme marketing going in 2021.
1. Tool – iLoveIMG.com
This site offers online image editing tools, along with a meme editor that lets you upload your own images or choose from a long list of popular, up-to-date meme templates. It’s free to register and use. But for $6/month, you can get additional tools, larger file sizes, and an ad-free interface, among other benefits.
2. Idea – Memejacking
Many memes persist for months or even years, but there’s always a fresh new meme making the rounds. Memejacking means jumping on these trending memes — hijacking them, if you will — to ride the wave of excitement and popularity.
Memes that originate from one-time events are perfect for this. When they begin, everyone shares as many as they can, but once the meme is over, it’s over. Don’t miss out!
3. Tool – Kapwing Meme Generator
Kapwing’s meme maker provides classic meme templates and trending memes, including lots of animated gifs. It’s free to use, but you can upgrade to the pro version for $17 per month if you want to ditch the watermarks and access premium features.
4. Idea – Make your memes relatable
Memes don’t have to be devastatingly hilarious to get substantial traction. Sometimes, the best memes perfectly capture a certain kind of feeling that we can all understand. Brands can use this type of meme to draw connections to the problems their products solve, eliciting a meaningful emotional response.
5. Tool – Quickmeme
If you’re looking for old-school meme templates, Quickmeme has you covered with a simple interface and a catalog of all the classics. You can also upload your own images to caption. It doesn’t get much easier than this.
6. Idea – Create your own memes
One of the best qualities of meme culture is that you can totally appropriate other people’s great ideas — that’s what makes them memes, after all. However, some brands have had great success memeifying their own content. Netflix does this very effectively to promote their new releases.
7. Tool – Adobe Express
If you require classy, professional-looking memes, Adobe Express’s free meme maker has some unique templates for you. Express offers a full suite of design tools for creating all sorts of visual content for social media, at the cost of $9.99 per month for individuals or $19.99 for teams.
8. Idea – Meme-Style challenges
Meme challenges are a great way to engage with your audiences and generate even more shareable content about your brand. All you need to do is provide a format and a prompt, then showcase the best work your audience creates. It doesn’t hurt to incentivize with prizes, but lots of people will participate just for the fun of it.
9. Tool – Imgflip
This meme creation site offers interesting templates along with tools for creating animated gifs and motivational posters. It’s $9.95 per month to upgrade to the pro version, which allows you to create higher-quality images without ads and watermarks.
10. Idea – Always employ meme best practices
Keep in mind that some memes originate on controversial forums, and others may employ offensive stereotypes. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re not sure what a meme is referencing or why it’s supposed to be funny, do some research before using it. This will help you avoid any post that could be offensive and lead to your brand being damaged or worse, “canceled”.
It’s also important to keep intellectual property (IP) in mind. Generally speaking, memes are highly unlikely to get you in trouble for trademark law violations. But you should be cautious and use good judgment when creating memes that make use of other brands’ IP – just in case.
11. Tool – Canva
This meme creator includes a vast library of stock images and templates to allow you to create and customize a wide range of unique and original memes. The pro version starts at $12.95 per month. It gives you cloud storage, an ever bigger image library, custom fonts, and other useful resources to make and share memes.
Meme Your Way to Marketing Success
Meme marketing is one of the most successful examples of creative content marketing. The audience for memes is enormous, and it’s predisposed to enjoy and share the content. Memes are a fun, fast, and easy way to capitalize on trends and generate memorable content. Just be sure that your memes tie into your branding and the message you want to convey to your audience.
Even in the occasionally staid world of B2B marketing, memes can serve as great icebreakers. They get your name in front of buyers in a way that stands out and creates positive associations. You don’t need a galaxy brain to pull this off — just some good ideas and the right set of tools. So get your images, snappy captions, and brand messaging ready, and start meme-ing your way to social media marketing success in 2021!
The internet is the most powerful global communications tool ever invented. It allows us to connect with people all over the world and share information in various forms, including text, images, and videos. One popular form of online communication is through memes. Memes are funny or relatable images or videos that are often accompanied by captions or text overlays. They have become a significant part of online culture and are widely shared on social media platforms.
Memes are not just limited to entertainment; they have also found their way into marketing strategies. Marketers have recognized the popularity of memes and their ability to engage with younger audiences. According to a study, 38% of Millennials and 64% of Gen Z-ers follow dedicated meme accounts on social media. This indicates that memes have become an integral part of online communication for these demographics.
But what exactly are memes? The term "meme" was coined by biologist Richard Dawkins to describe ideas and concepts that spread and mutate among cultures, similar to how genes do. In the context of the internet, memes refer to images or videos that are shared, captioned, and remixed online. They can be about anything and can take various forms, from specific themes and characters to simple images with text overlays.
Memes have evolved over time, and today, many memes consist of an image with plain text that conveys a particular feeling or situation. Memes often capture something that is difficult to express in words and provide a funny, ironic, or deeply relatable way to communicate. When a meme resonates with people, it can quickly spread and become viral.
Meme marketing is the practice of using memes as part of a brand's social media content strategy. By incorporating memes into their marketing efforts, brands can tap into the popularity of memes and engage with their target audience. Sharing memes related to their products or services can help create a connection with consumers and elicit a meaningful emotional response.
Using memes in social media marketing has several benefits. Memes are fast and cheap to produce, making them an efficient way to create engaging content. Additionally, memes have the potential to go viral, leading to organic distribution and increased brand visibility. However, it's important to note that meme marketing should be done carefully to avoid misfires that can result in cringe-worthy content. Brands should understand the humor and context of memes before using them and ensure that they align with their brand identity and messaging.
To facilitate meme marketing, there are several tools and ideas available. Here are some examples:
- iLoveIMG.com: This website offers online image editing tools, including a meme editor with popular and up-to-date meme templates.
- Memejacking: Jumping on trending memes and incorporating them into your brand's content strategy.
- Kapwing Meme Generator: A meme maker that provides classic meme templates and trending memes, including animated gifs.
- Make your memes relatable: Creating memes that capture relatable feelings or situations to draw connections to your brand's products or services.
- Quickmeme: A platform that provides old-school meme templates and allows users to upload their own images for captioning.
- Create your own memes: Some brands have had success memeifying their own content to promote their products or services.
- Adobe Express: A meme maker with unique templates for creating professional-looking memes.
- Meme-Style challenges: Engaging with your audience by creating meme challenges and showcasing the best work.
- Imgflip: A meme creation site that offers interesting templates, animated gifs, and motivational posters.
- Always employ meme best practices: Being aware of the origins and potential controversies surrounding memes and using good judgment when creating and sharing them.
- Canva: A meme creator with a vast library of stock images and templates for creating unique and original memes.
In conclusion, meme marketing is a creative and effective way to engage with audiences on social media. Memes have a wide reach and are highly shareable, making them a valuable tool for brands to connect with their target audience. By using the right tools and following best practices, brands can leverage the power of memes to enhance their social media marketing efforts.