The word “meme” was first used way before the days of Facebook or Twitter. Richard Dawkins, in 1976, wrote a book called The Selfish Gene where he used the word “meme” to describe how any cultural trend spreads quickly and becomes viral. Usually, a meme uses a visual motif, which is ingrained in popular culture, adds contemporary humour, often twisting it out of the original context with a new message.
Besides, its viral potential, Memes often provides the much needed harmless ‘comic relief’ from the timelines filled with negative news, propaganda, and misinformation. Memes are so commonly shared that, according to Google Trends, “memes” are becoming the more searched terms than "Jesus." And Jesus has also featured in quite a few memes too. Owing to their popularity and potential to reach millions of people in an instant more brands have lately realised the importance of humour to reach the hearts of people, added to the fact that there is evident dearth of good harmless humour circulating, they started leveraging them as a new method of marketing - meme marketing.
Why Meme Marketing is buzzing in recent times?
The current generation is very ad-allergic. Let’s just be honest, none of us welcomes interruption caused by advertisements while enjoying our favourite content online. As a generation, we are constantly riding on the “Skip Ad” button even paying “premium” in subscription to avoid them all together. Furthermore, many online streaming platforms have also started offering “No Ad break policy” packages. This clearly highlights the lack of understanding between the way the brands contact the consumers and the way the consumers want to be contacted, paving the way for innovative methods like meme marketing to enter the market.
Meme Worthy Benefits
It’s interesting to note that memes can be reused and recycled various times by just doing little alterations in the content, making them one of the most cost-effective, low design intensive, and accessible ways of marketing. Meme has further enabled the brands to be more relevant, more human, often willing to laugh at themselves, making them even more relatable and loved.
Humour is good in small doses. Too often and too much, would be perceived as the brand being ‘desperate’ and “trying too hard”, loosing the very potency of humour to engage and attract, diluting the brand persona completely. So, the challenge is to for brands to always keep your eyes and ears open (social listening) and choose not only the content but its timing, spread out, with enough space, in the content calendar.
The Bottom Line
If by your marketing, you can bring a smile to the audience, make their already stressful life seem a little easy, make their day a little better, you’ll mostly likely, very soon, find a room in their hearts and you will find them visiting your profile/page for more. So here’s to making marketing communication a little fun now and then, not just for the people working behind the scenes, but for our audience too.
Nikhil Sharda, is EVP - Creative & Digital Communications at Scroll Mantra