December 4, 2019

Alex West

West with What’s Next: To Meme or Not to Meme


It’s easy to find yourself in a time-consuming spiral online, looking at an endless flurry of funny photos (a.k.a. memes). The thing about memes is that they are captivating and blur the barrier between brand and consumer in a way that can make your business seem more personable.

How Humor Helps Your Brand

Humor helps your brand engage with your audience—and it helps you extend your reach. Followers will more likely share memes over other content, thus exposing your brand to more people (and potentially more customers). An occasional meme or other use of humor is a great way to up your engagement—and keep people tuned in to what you will post next.

Your content on social media shouldn’t be strictly advertisement because you won’t attract a following that way. No one wants to see endless ads in their feed. Rather, they gravitate toward content that appeals to their interests, so posting content that’s in alignment with what your target demographic is interested in (such as links to relevant articles) is key. Sometimes, though, endless article links (while totally professional) can become just as mundane as self-promoting content. Memes offer a way to mix things up and boost audience engagement.

Memes also demonstrate that there are real people (not some robot program) managing your social media. Small or local businesses, especially, can appeal to their local markets by taking common memes and rebranding them to fit current events or top-of-mind topics in their locale.  By sharing memes that have local relevance, you can show followers you’re in-tune with them and what’s happening around them.

Memes – Some Advice to Heed

Be wary of meme usage, however. Internet trolls have recently been calling out large brands that use popular memes for marketing purposes. This has created a meme in itself, “Begone, brand.” If you experience trolls replying to your posts with a variation of “Begone, brand,” you’re probably trying a little too hard.

There can be some drawbacks to meme usage, and it’s important that you understand whether incorporating humor into your social media presence is right for your branding. Some brands inherently need to maintain a more professional profile. If this is true of your business, it doesn’t mean you should forego humor entirely. Instead, take special care to ensure your use of humor aligns with the aesthetics and values of your brand.

Also, some memes may be offensive or distasteful to followers. If you’re not fully engaged in where a meme comes from, you may not be aware of any possible underlying negative message it conveys. I advise that you avoid a meme if you’re not positive that you’re using it correctly. Not only could you be saying something offensive, but nothing screams “technologically illiterate” like poor meme usage. (If you do slip up, you might risk retaliation by way of the latest generational insult meme, “OK Boomer.”!)

Keep Calm and Make Them Laugh a Little

Balancing memes and humor online isn’t easy, and there will never be a step-by-step cookie-cutter guide because every business and its audience are unique. You should think things through before infusing humor into your content, but don’t let fear hold you back. A little humor can help you build a stronger connection with your existing audience and attract new followers that otherwise may have been out of reach.

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