Between the internal angst that gripped Kermit the frog and the heartwarming BROTUS development, 2016 was a good year for memes. A meme is a part of culture meant to be copied and altered by the creator in the form of a video, gif or text, but is most often an image accompanied by a caption.
Memes commonly spread virally on the Internet through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
For communications professionals, marketers and social media managers, these kinds of explosively popular memes present new ways to join trending conversations or spark engagement among followers.
Incorporating a relatable and well-timed meme into your social media messaging can be an effective way to reach and connect with a younger audience. But the key lies within these two criteria – your meme must be relatable and well timed.
Successful memes usually capture an emotion or situation most people have experienced. They should be shared at a time when the specific meme is trending, because the popularity of any given meme is determined by the whims of pop culture, and their relevance can be short-lived.
The beauty of a meme is its potential for massive virality and its malleability. They’re like pop culture silly putty; you can stretch and mold them and truly make them your own. But like silly putty, using memes can be sticky and sometimes, even messy.
So, here are three essential things to keep in mind before making a reckless visit to memegenerator.com.
3 Essential Meme Tips
1) Know Your Brand
Using a meme can differentiate a brand or a company because it shows cultural literacy and creates a lighthearted, humorous interaction with its audience.
Just be sure it makes sense for the reputation of your company, and is in alignment with the established image and tone of voice. Brands like Ruffles have capitalized on trending memes, like Arthur’s Fist, and successfully integrated them into their messaging.
When your roommate eats all the Ruffles. pic.twitter.com/vyKnZKUmVW
— RUFFLES (@RUFFLES) July 29, 2016
2) Know Your Audience
Years before Hillary Clinton explained Pepe the Frog to us, memes inhabited the less frequented corners of the Internet: 4chan, reddit, lolcats.
Now, Facebook and Twitter are the main freeways for meme traffic. Because of that, it’s important to share or create a meme that is relevant to your group of followers and does not add clutter to the already overwhelmed social space.
If the meme you create is irrelevant or unrelatable, it will not garner engagement. A good meme often hits on a universal feeling or a situation many people have found themselves in.
3) Know Your Meme
Using the wrong meme is the real reason Michael Jordan is crying (See number 5 in the round-up of 2016’s best memes), and it’s also a surefire way to become the target of Internet ridicule. The very nature of memes allows for alteration and personalization, but they have a predetermined context that they should be applied to – think mixing up Success Kid and Confession Bear. Ouch.
In this gun-slinging, Harambe-mourning era of our Wild West web, there is no how-to when it comes to memes. If you try to create a formula for when to use one or how to create it, then you’ve likely already missed the fleeting window of its relevance.
If opportunity arises, memes can add a great visual component to a tweet or Facebook post and elicit new engagement with an audience. But when in doubt, memes should be approached like small talk in the elevator: don’t force it.
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