To meme or not to meme, that is the question

October 5, 2012Uncategorized

They’re the latest internet phenomenon to invade your inbox, newsfeed and Pinterest, but while image macro memes can rouse a chuckle, do they have a place in your content marketing strategy?

Many businesses have relegated the meme to the internet underworld. You know, that mire of cat videos, frightening Nicholas Cage images and bacon poems that businesses instinctively avoid. But while it’s vital to keep your target audience and content strategy on track, it is possible to leverage internet or meta-humour to your brand’s advantage.

Before explaining why you might consider including some internet humour in your content strategy, let’s first address why many businesses snub it. Typical business responses to internet humour include “It’s too informal” or “People won’t take us seriously”. While it’s understandable to want your company to be taken seriously, rejecting humour in your online presence can be tantamount to ignoring the capabilities of the internet as a content marketing platform. If you don’t want to engage with your audience in a dynamic and relatable way, what’s the point of maintaining a blog or having a social media presence?

Content marketing is about establishing a connection with your audience and providing them with valuable and engaging content that inspires conversions and brand loyalty. Furnishing your content with relevant humour is a surefire way to establish a feel-good connection between your brand and audience that will potentially have them returning to your blog, contributing to online dialogue and becoming loyal customers.

Contemporary internet humour – and its champion, the image macro meme – can be a tricky thing to nail down because it relies on forms of subversive digital meta-humour. If you can master this type of millennial comedic sensibility, you not only appear savvier than your competition, but become more likeable, findable and shareable. However, if you fail then you risk appearing out of touch with your audience.

Like any content you post on the internet, do your research beforehand. There is no point trying to connect with your audience through a shared affinity for internet humour if you don’t find internet humour funny or understand its characteristics. A good place to start is Know Your Meme, an online database that documents internet phenomena.

Existing knowledge of internet or meta-humour is particularly important when creating image macro memes as they are innately self-referential. Image macro memes accrue their humour by referencing and appropriating aspects of past memes and then remixing or transforming the punch line with a new topical variation.

Trumped-up descriptions aside, memes are visual, fun and cost a lot less than video production. So while press releases and newsletters should remain meme-free zones, if you’ve got a fun idea for an image macro there is no reason why one couldn’t accompany your latest blog post. If you’re feeling nervous about hitting the meta-comedic mark, involve your team in the process to check if your image macro meme is actually funny.

Challenging the online business status quo is always risky, but as we constantly redefine the relationship between consumer and company online, there’s always a little room for humour, isn’t there?

Join our discussion! Can memes be used successfully on business social media platforms?

By Elizabeth Penning – Digital Marketing Coordinator
Find her on Google+