What is a meme? One of the most famous memes is a small square photo of a toddler in a green and white shirt with a determined look on his face, clenching a fist of sand, labeled with a single word: SUCCESS. The meme went viral and became known as the “success kid.” The image was such a hit that it was ultimately licensed for commercial use, and was even used by the White House to promote immigration reform.
This example demonstrates why memes can be such a powerful marketing tool. They grab your attention; you can share them with just a click, and everyone can relate to them in an instant. I have used memes in my marketing campaigns, primarily in email marketing, and have seen higher click-through rates as a result.
During my off time, I enjoy networking with other digital marketers. I recently met an intriguing entrepreneur named Anushk Mittal, the 18-year-old founder of meme platform Memeois, on a private Facebook group. We got into a discussion about how to use memes to increase digital marketing engagement. A lot of innovative ideas sprang from that conversation, and I am excited to share them below.
Why do memes matter?
Nobody can resist a funny image. That’s why memes are engaging to all audiences, especially millennials.
“Memes are the internet speak of millennials. Over three billion people use social media, and at least 60% of them use it for content that’s funny. College students trade memes like kids used to trade Pokemon cards,” said Mittal.
In addition to millennials, I have found that memes can speak to any generation. Memes are popular on social media, and every generation is represented on social media platforms, primarily Facebook. In my industry, home health care, the target audience is the elderly, their families, caregivers and social workers, who make up our primary referral sources. Based on the success of our email campaigns, memes are a great way to engage these audiences.
For example, I recently created an email campaign targeted to caregivers. The email included a meme of Leonardo DiCaprio toasting with the caption: “Here’s to all the Alzheimer’s caregivers – There is a special place for you in heaven.” Using memes can turn a sad situation into a fun one. This was a hilarious way to say thank you, as evidenced by the many caregivers who shared it on their Facebook accounts.
How can digital marketers maximize the potential of memes?
“I’m a young adult, and I’ve been bombarded with paid ads for as long as I can remember. The marketing pitches have gotten old, and I find them a real turn-off,” shared Mittal. “When I see memes, I may or may not be interested in the [company’s] product or service. Either way, I know I’m in for a good laugh! That’s often enough to pique my interest and hang around to see what else they have.”
While the value of memes among the millennial and Gen Z demographics is well established, marketers in any industry can capitalize on this medium. Perhaps you’re thinking that memes won’t work for you because you work in a serious industry like health care where marketing relies on emotion. But consider the possibility of using positive emotions and humor as a way to break the ice and engage with prospects. Mittal and I agree that edgy humor is more authentic when brands can claim a truly disruptive message. The unexpected nature of a message is what makes it edgy – and engaging.
Let me share another example. I came up with an idea to engage and honor one of our referral sources, a great group of social workers. We appreciate their loyalty, and I wanted to do something special for Social Work Day. I sent them a group email with the hilarious meme, “Social Workers: What People Think They Do” versus “What They Actually Do.” Soon, the meme exploded across their social media channels.
What does the data tell us about memes?
According to Mittal, “Our researchers observed over 10 million meme interactions across a variety of topics, interests and user demographics. We estimated that an average millennial looks at 20-30 memes every day.” Furthermore, he revealed, “Our regular marketing graphics yielded 5% engagement [on Facebook and Instagram]. Using memes, we had about 10 times more reach with 60% organic engagement. There’s just no comparison.”
While the health care industry average hovers around 6% (email marketing), the CTR of our social worker meme campaign was 14%. After we sent out the campaign, we also received positive feedback from our sales team, which works directly with our referral sources. Creating the meme itself couldn’t have been easier. Our web designer created the image and branded it with our company logo. As the meme spread across social media, it increased our brand recognition exponentially.
When you use memes right, your audience will look forward to your next email. No matter your industry, this tried-and-true digital marketing tool can increase your overall engagement and brand exposure. Get up to speed with memes, and you just might be the next success kid.
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