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How to use memes for social media marketing

The socially awkward penguin meme is a popular one for relating to awkward social situations.

The socially awkward penguin meme is a popular one for relating to awkward social situations.

Memes are everywhere. They’re funny and catch the attention of potential customers online. But are memes appropriate for use in social media marketing? How do you draw the line between using humor and being unprofessional?

There is in fact a type of advertising called memetic marketing, which utilizes trends online to get internet users’ attention and show that the company is aware and involved in what’s trending online. But let’s start with the basics.

The history of memes

Memes (rhymes with “seems”) are internet trends that gain traction by being shared, often with variations on the same idea or image. The word itself comes from the Latin word, mimeme, which means “imitated thing.” The history of the word can be found in an interesting infographic here.

The most common use of the word “meme,” however, refers to pictures with personally generated text that describe a relatable situation or a type of emotion – although this term can also refer to videos and other trending online media.

There are tons of different types of memes, but some of the most popular ones can be found here.

These types of memes can be found on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter most commonly and are usually meant to be funny, relatable, and reflect what is trending at the moment. But when is it appropriate to use these for your own professional blog?

What memetic marketing can do for your brand

While you can have a very successful blog without using memes, there definitely are some benefits of using them that might bring more potential clients to your site, or convince them to stay and look around once they’re there. What do memes add to your blog or social media?

  • They make you seem aware of the market and demographic. Your potential customers feel like you understand them when you post things they relate to.
  • You can show your personal sense of humor and the brand’s personality.
  • Humor is a great selling point – just look at some of the more memorable commercials.
  • An interesting, multidimensional blog interests readers and encourages them to forward your site to others.
  • They give you an easy way to have a variety of quick posts that are funny and have visual interest.

So you might be convinced that memes are good things to use now and then – but you might be asking yourself, “How?”

While this is a cute meme, the awkward wording from line to line is an example of how memes can go wrong.

While this is a cute meme, the awkward wording from line to line is an example of how memes can go wrong.

How to use memes for social media marketing

When deciding whether to use a meme, there are a few things you should consider.

  • What is the tone of your blog or brand overall?
  • What kind of personality does your company/brand have?
  • Who is your demographic?
  • How professional or casual do you want your brand to seem?
  • Are you comfortable with swears or racey jokes?

While we recommend you think carefully about these questions before deciding on using any meme, you shouldn’t let fear of seeming unprofessional stop you from adding personality and humor to your outreach. You should try to find memes that are not inappropriate and will resonate with your target audiences  without sacrificing professionalism. It’s important to keep your tone formal enough so that your readers take you seriously, but you don’t want to seem stiff, or they might be less interested in your brand.

If you have an idea for a meme that will relate well with your client base, you can make your own customizable one at websites like this. All you have to do is find the template you want and type in the top text and the bottom text. Look carefully at the examples of the ones that are already made, because a poorly written meme can turn people off. A meme done well, however, can greatly improve your online marketing, encourage your readers to stay on your site, keep looking through your posts, and share it with their friends.


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 What’s your favorite meme? Do you use them on your blog or social channels? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!


Content and Social Media Marketing Webinar

By Suzanne McDonald

If content “is the only marketing left,” as a quote from entrepreneur Seth Godin goes, than businesses better make sure their content is attracting customers.


In a webinar by Smart Insights and Bright TALK, “Content and Social Media Marketing,” businesses can learn how to use content for marketing – and what to avoid so content doesn’t harm the brand’s image.


What exactly is content marketing? It’s “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience,” content marketing authors Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett said in their 2009 book, “Get Content, Get Customers.”


Content marketing “barely registered as a concept” until a few years ago, according to Google search trends for the topic, as cited in the webinar. Not until early 2011 did searches for “content marketing” finally start to rise – and then they soared.


Common content formats:

  •  Facebook
  • Twitter
  • emails to subscriber base
  • A Wiki page
  • blog post
  • LinkedIn
  • press release
  • banner ads


Those are the most common formats, and they fall into four “quandrants,” or general styles:

  1. Entertain (example: quizzes or branded videos)
  2. Inspire (celebrity endorsements or community forums)
  3. Convince (case studies or interactive demonstrations)
  4. Educate (infographics or press relases)


A few formats fall in between, such as articles, which are on the line between entertain and educate, and ratings, which are between inspire and convince. Ideally, a business would find the right balance between the four quandrants, something that could be struck by having customer reviews or questionnaires.


The old saying “quality over quantity” applies to content marketing. If a business overloads its Twitter followers or Facebook fans with too many posts, they would, at minimum, lose effectiveness. At most, those followers and fans would unfollow or post negative remarks.


Interesting content is a top-three reason why people follow certain brands on social media, and there are trends to give hints on the best ways companies can utilize their content:

  •  3 in 4 marketers say compelling content is a factor in closing sales.
  •  70% prefer getting to know a company by reading articles rather than advertisements.
  • 60% feel more positive about a company after reading content on its website.


A tip to remember, as the webinar puts it: “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.” In other words, engage with customers instead of simply talking to them, and think like a publisher instead of an advertiser.


Travel review websites are a great example in the amount of influence they have, especially among younger people. Word-of-mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.


Other tips to consider:

  • Think of what your content will look like on mobile devices – or whether it will even work at all.
  • Most Facebook fans (83% in one study) do not see your posts because they don’t stay visible on newsfeeds for very long.
  • A high number of “likes” and comments on even a plain-text post will drive more reach, or influence, than another post that might seem more likely to attract buzz simply because it has a photo.


Facebook has an internal algorithm called EdgeRank that it uses to gauge a user’s influence. It is based on four factors:

  • Affinity, or your relationship with a brand; you are more likely to see a post if your friends engage with it.
  • Type of post. Simple status updates trump other content.
  • Time. The older a post is, the less likely it will be viewed.
  • Level of negative feedback a post and brand receives.


Finally, some social media networks are more effective than others, depending on whether your communication is business-to-business or business-to-customer:

  • LinkedIn – the most effective for B2B, but far less so for B2C.
  • Blogs and Twitter have the best balance between both B2B and B2C.
  • Facebook is far more effective for B2C than B2B.
  • Others are far less effective for both methods, including Slideshare, Delicious, Scribd and Flickr.

If  you’d like to listen to the Webinar yourself, check out the BrightTalk Website!