No one likes seeing boring ads, not on tv, not while surfing the internet, and surely not on social media. That is how the idea of using memes in social media advertising came to be, to service the audience who does not like seeing traditional ads. Everyone likes memes, and people spend lots of time on their smartphones checking social media and being exposed to different types of memes; it is now an everyday ritual, so the ad made this way will surely be seen.
The first known use of memes in advertising
One of the earliest known forms of memes in advertisements, also known as corporate memes or corporate marketing, was on August 13th, 2008; when a guy named Martin Bowling launched a successful campaign on Twitter advertising “Zima,” which is an alcoholic beverage, through jokes and sarcasm.
After Zima’s successful exposure through memes, other companies started to do meme marketing campaigns of their own, most of which were a big failure.
In 2011, a meme billboard was created by HipChat to advertise their instant messaging tool. A 300% increase in Google searches was seen as a result. That campaign was considered widely successful due to the use of the meme.
Then, utilizing a digital meme format to advertise a product became a thing in 2012; when HubChat, the same company with the billboard idea, created a meme to market their advertisement website. The campaign was considered successful in provoking the interest of the audience. According to them, the meme received 337 shares on Facebook, with 60 likes and 53 comments.
Between 2014 and 2018, advertising memes became more mainstream.
The reason memes are being used in advertisements.
1. They are cheap to create and easy to make.
Using sites with a meme generator, anyone can make a meme and add text. Brands can sometimes use independent memes created by individuals to advertise their products; however, that is ill-advised; brands should create their memes when they plan to use them for advertising.
2. They are accessible
The average time most internet users spend on social media is a hundred minutes a day, and most of the conversations today use memes, jokes, and references; because of that, brands need to learn how to translate their ads into this new language.
They need to start making ads that look less like an enforced nomination of their product and more like something fun and entertaining that people will not get bored looking into.
3. They are harmonizable
Memes can help humanize brands and companies and make them look fun and relatable. When a good meme is used in advertising something, the thing that people see first is the joke, so it is a good way of hooking the audience’s interest, leaving a lasting impression.
4. They can be a powerful medium for brand marketing.
That can be when brands create ads that can later be turned into memes in their own right. Instead of basing an advertisement on a meme, make it a base for future memes; that can guarantee a wider spread for the ad; the more it is shared, the more exposure the brand will get.
A successful way to use memes in social media advertisements
1. Make it relevant to the brand and the audience.
Know what meme to choose, do not just look for the one going viral and use it to promote the product. It has to have connections to the brand in one way or another. Be creative in finding this connection, then make it show. Act according to the brand’s traditional identity.
2. Be skillful and make them cheerful.
Know the targeted audience’s sense of humor. People might get offended if the planning was poor and the wrong choices. Use tools for advertisement offered by social media to know the cultural preferences before planning a meme strategy.
3. Keep pace with pop culture.
For the meme to go viral, it must be based on trendy subjects. Challenges and trends offer a great medium to be used by the brand’s creative team in creating relative content for the audience to see.
4. Do not force or overuse them.
If the meme used looks out of place, it will damage the brand’s name; displaying too many memes on the brand’s timeline will make people question its professionalism. Use them in moderation and only when fit for the brand’s name and purpose.
Memes get a better reaction from the targeted audience than traditional advertisements because they are made specifically for social media. People share memes with one another naturally as a part of their online experience; that is why they are considered a great way of improving engagement and attracting interest.