Last Updated: Oct 07, 2020

The average person spends two hours and 22 minutes each day on social media


And memes are a major part of that social media experience. Every social media outlet is flooded with them, from the mighty Reddit to the possibly outdated Facebook. Bad Luck Brian, Success Kid, and Grumpy Cat…they’re a part of our language, how we share ideas. Even when they’re not-so-funny, used incorrectly, or deemed “cringeworthy,” they’re still everywhere, and they spread like wildfire. So why shouldn’t they be used as a marketing tool?

(Source: Pinterest)


But what is a meme? Most people might define a meme by its most recognizable form: the image with a line of upper text and a line of lower text. But a meme can be something as simple as a phrase, or even just a funny concept. This makes the possibilities for generating memes nearly endless.


In February of 2020, then-presidential-candidate Michael Bloomberg reached out to some of the top meme pages, inviting Americans to ‘make him cool.’ This influencer marketing campaign generated an audience of more than 60 million


Some may say it backfired—oftentimes, older, out-of-touch businesses or individuals just dig themselves deeper by trying to use memes and failing. But Bloomberg’s meme campaign will surely remain as a landmark in meme marketing for some time.


In social media marketing, a single message that captivates people long enough to make them smile, laugh, share, or retweet is tremendously powerful. It certainly gets attention and captures interest in a way that few other things can. 


Refocusing a single message from your business into social media and meme marketing can do wonders to make you more relevant, recognizable, and most of all, shareable. Let’s take a look at some tips for getting started with meme marketing, and see how your business can benefit. 


Memes Defined


The point of a meme is to cut through the cluttered world of data, information, and communication where you often have less than five seconds of consumer attention to make your point. The meme does this very well. 


For those who enjoy the marketing part of your business, the meme is almost a tool to cheat the system. Rather than having to impress your audience with statistics, facts, or catchy slogans, you can rely on a meme template that has been proven to not only work, but has already gone viral.

(Source: Memecenter)


A lot of memes are all about timing. It’s about knowing which memes are trending, which memes are evergreen and will always be usable, and which memes are so old and out of use that you’ll seem out of touch when using them. 


Memes That Work

(Source: Netbase)


Not all memes are created equal. There are plenty of memes out there, and it’s easy to make them. Just head over to one of the many meme generator sites, choose an image, and punch your line in.


But creating effective (read: funny) memes is hard. Very hard. That’s because the very best memes are spontaneous, or at least, they feel that way. As though they were inspired directly by something funny, irritating, or ironic; something we can all relate to and that resonates with us.


Because of this, creating memes out of thin air is tough, or downright impossible. The best memes are the result of some current event, sentiment, or pop culture reference. They’re a parody of real life itself, with a healthy dose of irony added for good measure.


While going viral is the ultimate goal for most meme marketing ventures, at the end of the day, humor and connecting with our audience is a far more feasible objective. Even if your meme marketing doesn’t go viral, there’s still a good chance that it’ll at least generate attention from your target audience, and help your company to get noticed. 


Still, some largely successful meme campaigns get mentioned more than others. These are worth reviewing to see how well-resourced businesses and brands use memes in their marketing campaigns. 


A few examples of great campaigns include:



  • Gucci’s #TFWGucci Campaign


(Source: Instagram)


Apart from simply posting a great meme, creating a popular hashtag can urge your fans to make their own memes about your brand. Gucci’s #TFWGucci campaign had a reach of over 120,000, with nearly 2 million likes. The consensus at Gucci is that their meme campaign was on-brand and in good taste.



  • A Well-Timed Meme From Denny’s



Reinvigorating a well-known food brand isn’t always easy. But sometimes just proving that you’re on par with current meme culture can get people talking. Denny’s did just this when they used two popular memes together in one tweet captioned “zoom in on the syrup”


This example demonstrates how good meme design breaks through the clutter. By combining a popular meme format (zooming in on something only to be told to look elsewhere) with an even more popular internet meme or idea (overwhelming and ever-present existential dread), all packed into a high-res image of pancakes—they checked every box when it comes to creating a meme. 


What’s more, that meme marketing is cheap and easy to produce and distribute, with the power of social marketing networks to amplify your message beyond anything you might pay for. 

(Source: Twitter)


The tweet ended up being tremendously successful, and gained over 119,000 retweets in one week.



  • Netflix’s ‘Bird Box’



Netflix has always been pretty up-to-date with their marketing tactics, but the memes that sprouted around the release of the Netflix original ‘Bird Box’ are absolutely legendary. I mean, most people only saw it to see what all the fuss was about. While Netfilix itself did play a small part by suggesting a ‘Bird Box challenge’ to popular Twitch streamers, the majority of the memes that popped up about this film were purely fan-generated. As a result, Netflix’s Bird Box had over 45 million views in the first week




  • BarkBox


(Source: Instagram)


Dogs are cute, clumsy, and often hilarious—the perfect combination for great memes. BarkBox was well aware of this when they went into business, leaning heavily on social media and meme culture. More importantly than marketing their product itself, BarkBox has shown that they’re true dog people by posting memes that not only perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to own a pup, but also demonstrate that they ‘get meme culture’. By doing so, their Facebook page has millions of followers.

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Meme Themes

(Source: Know Your Meme)


There are many different themes to consider when it comes to meme-making. Some are meant to be funny, some cute, and some even serve as an outlet to voice your frustration. Let’s break some of these down.




Some memes pose a question about a universal social issue. Cereal or milk first? Or the infamous meme asking how a centaur would wear pants. What makes this type of meme so popular is that it’s less about people chiming in with their preference on a topic, and more about people saying which one is inarguably right or wrong—heated internet discourse at it’s finest.




Similar to Netflix’s Bird Box Challenges, the internet is full of internet challenges that people inexplicably love to participate in. Honorable mentions include the Cinnamon Challenge, the Bottle Cap Challenge, and the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many of these challenges present an opportunity for your business to participate in the meme, or you can just make up your own.


Making Memes


So you’ve decided to try out meme marketing. The process is pretty simple, the real challenge  is coming up with something that’s going to be funny, and actually resonate with people. 


There are several popular meme-making sites, such as Make a Meme or Imgflip that make it easy.


Image Rights – If you use an online meme generating platform, most of the image rights are cleared. But you should still always double check that you’re infringing on any copyrights. 


Combine Image With Copy – Once you’ve chosen your image, gif, or video, it’s time to formulate the caption or bold text to go over the image. This is just as important as the image, as this will get your idea across while also displaying your business’ understanding of meme culture.


Load and Save – You should save your meme both offline and on any platform you use, making sure that it’s suitably cataloged.


Send and Distribute – Alongside great promotional or creative messages, the distribution of your meme is the critical step. Get it out on at least one social network first and see how it does.


Measure Results – You’ll need to set up your measurement criteria using analytics off each social network or separately.


And remember, you can always adjust your meme-message towards different audiences to gain traction.


Social Media Platforms


If you’re serious about meme marketing, you must be aware of the social media platforms where memes do their best. 


Facebook – This network has a history of meme-based marketing. If you have a few thousand followers on Facebook and they’re actually interested in what you’re doing, you’re ahead of the curve. Users check Facebook daily, so you should be pumping out memes whenever the mood strikes.


Twitter – Twitter users love memes because they fit with the format of short messages, a link, and an image or four. The simple secret is getting a message out that your followers can retweet.


Instagram – As a photo-centric social network, it only makes sense that you use your business Instagram account for meme marketing. Instagram isn’t quite as meme-focused as other platforms, but you should be using it anyway.


Reddit – Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet.” It can seem quite intimidating to newcomers, but for anyone who wants to stay current on anything and everything on the internet, Reddit is by far your most valuable tool. 


If you have a blog (which you should), don’t forget to spice up your blog posts with original memes as well. Anything on the internet should be internet-savvy.


Tips For Creating Memes


Repurpose Those Memes

It’s hard to pull funny memes out of thin air. One good solution is to repurpose a meme; to find something that’s trending already in some way, and tweak it slightly to fit your business.  


Create a Meme Bank

Being prepared and ready to move at a moment’s notice is extremely in marketing. This is no different for meme marketing.


If you can get someone who’s willing to focus your business messaging using memes and can create good quality memes for future use, you’ll have a marketing resource that you can summon whenever the occasion demands.


News Memes

As you develop a sense of meme marketing, you’ll also begin to create great memes driven by the news, both inside your business or industry and outside of it. Collect and adapt new memes and adapt to your own purposes, but beware of strict time-limits. Some events are only newsworthy for a short period.


Industry Memes 

Identify key moments or concepts within your own industry. People like being part of an inside joke. If you can make popular memes that are only relevant to people in your industry, it creates a feeling of exclusivity.


Human Memes

There are so many little quirks that people love to remark on, sympathize with, or simply identify. This can give your brand a human feel that otherwise gets lost in all the business messaging. Great memes make people smile at your business sense and relatable humanity, and that can’t be a bad thing!


Finally, a word of warning. While they can be an effective marketing tool, it’s crucial that you exercise authenticity throughout the entire process of meme creation. Don’t attempt to pass a meme off as spontaneous, or user-generated if you created it yourself. Instead, own the creation  of it. At the end of the day, if a supposed “authentic” meme is found out to be an elaborate PR exercise, you’ll pay the price when the crowd turns against you. You’ll also want to ensure that any memes that you use are tasteful and done in a careful way. Memes are notoriously unpredictable and at times, inappropriate for a business or brand to use, so anything that comes too close to toeing the line of controversy is best avoided. 


Being upfront, honest, and open about the creation of your memes is always the best policy. Then get out there and start generating some; and see how fun, and effective, they can be.


Looking to step up your online marketing strategy? Be sure to check out my other articles that I’ve shared and see how you can take your marketing strategy to the next level.


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