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3 Business Secrets About Memes

Tuesday - April 16th, 2013

Written by: Jolleen Tran

3 Business Secrets About Memes

An internet meme spreads from person to person over the internet, typically in the form of a picture. Memes are oftentimes a picture with humorous text in bold letters. However, memes can also appear through other mediums such as video or even audio files. While memes may seem like a viral phenomenon better suited for the masses and comedians, several businesses have taken advantage of memes and their viral nature.

  1. Virgin Mobile. In 2007, Laney Griner posted a photo of her 11-month-old son Sammy. The image spread throughout the internet because of Sammy’s smacked lips and fist held up in success. Virgin Mobile took advantage of this viral image to post a billboard promoting their HD channels.
  2. World of Warcraft. Have you seen those hyperbolic Chuck Norris facts and jokes online? For instance: “Chuck Norris was once stabbed by a knife; the knife bled to death.” Well, World of Warcraft took advantage of Chuck Norris Memes to create a commercial advertising their latest installment of the popular computer game. See it here.
  3. Wonderful Pistachios. Keyboard Cat became a YouTube sensation in 2007 and has acquired over 25 million views. The original video shows a cat “playing” the piano. In their meme-jacking, Wonderful Pistachios shows a cat playing the piano and cracking pistachios in the process.

What Marketers Can Learn from Memes

Memes are popular because they are quick and easy to consume. They require no thought process and can be enjoyed in a single glance. Furthermore, their humorous nature allow them to go viral quickly because internet users tend to share entertaining content.

While memes are not an ideal marketing strategy for every business, they’re a good way to stay relevant on social networks as well as boost employee morale in departments outside of the marketing department. A successfully viral meme will draw positive attention to your company.

The three examples above should remind marketers to create memes that are appropriate for their audiences. For instance, the Virgin Mobile meme took advantage of 11-month-old Sammy. Why? Most people looking to upgrade to HD channels will be young adults and young families. The iconic image of a young toddler resonates with young mothers and fathers. Likewise, the Chuck Norris meme for World of Warcraft is perfectly suited for their ideal audience of adolescent males.

First, consider whether or not your audience is internet savvy. If so, create a meme in the medium that your audience is likely to consume and then use humor that is appropriate for your ideal customer. Some company’s may not even want to create their own meme, but it’s possible to take advantage of trending memes or trending events.

For instance, when the lights went out during this year’s Super Bowl, Oreo was quick to release a meme taking advantage of the situation. The meme shows a single Oreo with the text: “You can still dunk in the dark.” The image went viral immediately all over the internet thanks to the quick-witted minds at Oreo.

What related humor have you used to promote your business?

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