TL;DR: As your influence grows and you get a sense of your audience, start experimenting with content, and meme marketing can be one of them. But timing and relevance are key.
Memes are cool, yo! But it ain’t for everybody, bro!
Thanks for coming to our TedTalk.
You know memes are when Instagram begins hosting Global MemeCon 2022. The original avatar of the event, in 2021, was obviously held online and called the International Meme Summit.
This year they gave it a hipper moniker and held IRL, like the Mumbai Facebook office, to celebrate Meme Creators. And not the ones like Fuckjerry who simply curate memes but those who make their own memes.
Does that mean the time has come for content creators and influencers to use memes as part of their content?
Well, yes and no.
Let us explain.
A bit of meme history
The word “meme” has a Greek origin, and when translated, it means “that which is imitated.” Richard Dawkins coined the term in his book “The Selfish Gene” way back in 1976. As per his definition, a meme is “any shareable cultural artefact that spreads through a culture like a wildfire.”
Snippet from The Selfish Gene:
While the actual word may not have been in widespread use until recently, the powers-that-be think that memes have been used for a very, very long time.
How long, you ask? Since 1919.
BBC feels these were the first memes ever:
Today, memes are pivotal marketing tools because they capture the attention of the ever-elusive 18 to 34 demographic. Essentially, Millennials understand #thngs when offered in short and sweet packages. So, yes, memes are the way ahead, unequivocally.
Why should influencers use memes?
Memes are real and more than just a trend. It’s a legit form of attention-grabbing that can change your identity from a nobody to somebody.
They are undoubtedly a great way to connect with your audience, and can help increase relatability, relevance, and eventually the final boss level – ‘go viral’.
Plus, memes evoke emotions. With something as simple as an image with a few words tacked on, you get to make your community laugh, cry, or just feel ‘yes, I totally get this.’ Add to it the fact that memes are the shortest form of content a person can consume; lazy AF Millennials are happy as a clamp with them.
But that’s all memes are for most creators. A marketing strategy. For creators and brands. Take Queen Riri’s Fenty Beauty. They have been using memes to market cosmetics, to great success, for years:
View this post on Instagram
At best, meme-ing will get you the required eyeballs, but what you choose to do with those eyeballs, later on, decides what happens to you. Retention is a far more coveted superpower than going viral.
When and when not to use memes as a creator?
When you are just starting as a creator, you’re better off sharing value, resources, and relatable content. Personal brands are built around stories. So share your journeys, struggles, and the whole reason for what makes you, you.
Then, as you grow and start getting the feel of your audience, you can begin experimenting with content, and memes can be one of them. Timing is also key. Knowing when to meme is as important as knowing what to meme.
Then again, there’s no need to jump on every trend.
Will Smith smacked Chris Rock? Haha. Funny.
But if you’re a creator who posts educational content, is that relevant to you? Yeah, Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
It’s better to be bland rather than come off as ‘trying hard’. Trust me, once that label sticks, it’s hard to get it off.
Alternatively, consider this
If you are an aspiring stand-up comic, then using memes is your language. As your niche is jokes and humour, memes do fit your brand. So go ahead and create as many of them as you want. We are here for it.
Memes aren’t one size fits all
You might be wondering, if so many big brands do it today, why shouldn’t we do it as influencers and content creators?
For one, the majority of the brands are already established. They enjoy a significant online presence and use meme marketing merely to promote themselves.
As an influencer, you need to position yourself as a person of authority and credibility, and meme-ing doesn’t lend itself to it. The best way to show you this is by taking Elon Musk as an example.
By some standards, he’s the richest person on earth, a downright genius, and a meme lover. But his Twitter antics still make him appear reckless and like a shitposter.
That said, even with all his random tweets, his followers will always see him as the man funding missions to Mars and disrupting the automobile industry.
In a gist, he can afford to be a ‘memer’ because he has proven his worth and built a loyal community. An influencer starting their career hasn’t. So randomly posting memes is not a great choice.
So, how do you make memes?
Besides being wicked smart (we’re kidding), there are three ingredients to creating a good meme:
1. Use a pop culture reference
A meme is relatable when a person can understand the reference it’s making. Whether it’s a popular movie reference or something that is currently happening in the world, the reference needs to be fresh and easy to understand.
— josh (@joshisiconic) December 25, 2018
2. Give it a humorous touch
A meme is for kicks and giggles, so if there isn’t a funny angle to it, then that defeats the whole purpose. Adding subtle humour is the secret sauce. Overdoing humour and stating the obvious? A big no-no.
3. Make it relevant to your content
You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape memes. So, what do you do? You embrace them. For that, you need to follow one golden rule. The voice of the meme has to match your persona and voice.
Memes will not appeal to your followers if they aren’t consistent with your day-to-day tone and relevant to your content niche.
Side note: Any creators wondering where the heck to source memes from, swing by Reddit and Imgur. Both platforms give you a sense of what’s trending. Or you could follow these Indian meme pages.
In conclusion, are memes really the way ahead for creators?
Of course, they are.
The reason we can’t get any work done on time? Memes.
The reason why phone screen times are 5+ hours every day? Memes
The reason we end up doom scrolling our productive hours every day? Memes, memes, and some more memes. So creator, if you’re thinking about it, do invest in some memes.
But heed this word of caution. They aren’t for everyone. It’s like playing with fire. You can either come off as a cool fire juggler and people will love your performance, or you’ll end up burning yourself.
One minute you’re trying to be cool and the next minute you find yourself getting trolled out of existence. So walk this tightrope only when you’re sure you have the skills.
You can’t force humour. And you wouldn’t want to go viral for all the wrong reasons. Would you?