Meme, Inc.: When Businesses Try to Meme

Kirk Loftin

It’s pretty apparent that the majority of 21st century marketing has been taken over by social media . As consumers get younger and younger, marketing tactics need to reflect this demographic change. A magazine or radio ad just isn’t going to accomplish much anymore (unless you do something crazy like ask people to urinate on it).

Often, companies will attempt to seem “hip” (tongue firmly planted in cheek) and relate to the kids today with the absolute dankest of memes, bruh! The problem is, rather than looking plugged into the culture and relating to the audience, it comes off like a dad trying to rap, or backwards-baseball cap Steve Buscemi. It’s a difficult tightrope to navigate. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsure at all, maybe just skip it this time. If possible, it’s best to find a talented person to run your social media that understands what is native to each platform, and can speak each social media’s specific language to each platform’s culture.

The collective internet loves memes. This is apparent on Twitter, Instagram, even your aunt’s facebook posts these days. Memes have evolved since the early days of YTMND and I Can Haz Cheezeburger. There are political memes, pop culture related memes, and what can only be described as the resurgence of neo-dadaism that is Generation Z’s memes. Obviously, the prudent move for companies is to try and capitalize on the popularity of memes, to try and reach younger audiences where they are. If a company is successful in creating meme-based content or using trending hashtags, they can see massive returns on impressions and clicks because of it. But, of course, there’s a dark side: memes and hashtags can go terribly, terribly wrong.

Be original. Don’t copy someone’s else meme. Either make your own, or re-post it (leading back to the original person). Make sure you understand the meme your posting. You may be the butt of the joke if you post something it turns out you misunderstood “ I [heart emoji] [3 peach emojis]” is not actually expressing your love of the fruit. Understand the extremely short shelf-life of memes and hashtags. If a hashtag has already fallen out of “trending” on Twitter, it’s probably best to move on.

Can a business or marketing director “learn” meme culture? Sure, but be careful and expect there to be (more than a few) mishaps along the way. Surround yourself with people that understand the native content of the platforms, be timely in your posts, and entertain your audience! After all, this existentialist crisis hidden in a pancake meme from Denny’s got over 390K likes and 220K retweets.

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