What would the honey badger do? He wouldn’t give a @%&*, right? So I asked myself how much I should care about memes as a business professional who wants to increase enrollment in the Executive Education programs at Daniels College of Business. A “meme” is just a fancy word for all those videos and catch phrases and trendy things we share with each other – technically “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” We mostly think of these as hilarious videos of dogs or kittens or babies or the latest craze such as planking or Tebowing, but they can also be a powerful marketing tool for a company. Take Tebowing as an example – it gave exposure to the Broncos on a global scale (check out this picture of someone in India) has given them some unintentional brand support and in general increased the fans engagement with the organization because it fulfills two of our basic human desires – to fit in (high schoolers Tebowing with friends) and to be unique (Tebowing at the South Pole).
Of course there can also be some significant challenges in using memes in a business context:
- The popularity of a meme can be very short lived and a company may need to keep reinventing things that they hope will go viral to maintain interest in their brand
- Often the whole thing can be out of a companies control – consider Pop Tart Cat . Is Kellogg happy or annoyed with this video? Can they leverage this to their advantage or should they just ignore it?
- To become viral – a meme clearly has to be extraordinary – extreme – hilarious, but to whom? Can be very difficult to find something that can go viral that still aligns with your brand.
Fortunately, Mike Lewis has provided some great suggestions in his blog How to Use Memes to Create Social Media Engagement:
- Speak to their audience: Marketers always need to know their audience, but it’s particularly true for this genre. Know your audience’s tastes, language (or keywords) and sense of humor.
- Are highly relevant: Related to tip #1, memes must resonate with their intended audience. Memes are a great example of the ‘It’s so funny because it’s true’ humor style.
- Are memorable & highly viral: Good memes beg to be shared. You share it because you know the piece of content (be it video, still frame, animated gif or otherwise) made you react, and your friend will have a similar reaction.
- Often have a short-self life. Memes are only a component of marketing. It’s an additional resource in your arsenal, and should be used sparingly. Memes aren’t for everyone. They grow tiresome quickly. Don’t over-rely on them for marketing success.
- Take off on one platform. While memes should be seeded on multiple platforms, they often see success in one particular platform.
- Are easily re-imagined: Part of the fun of memes is the re-imaginings applied with various lenses. The ‘Sh*t girls say’ video is a great example of this; it spurred an incredibly wide array of new treatments, everything from ‘Sh*t Nobody Says’ to ‘Sh*t People Say about Sh*t People Say Videos.’
- Rarely have an overt marketing message. Memes catch people’s interest and spread quickly, but rarely seem like traditional marketing.
So…I guess I will care and try to think creatively about ways we can get something to go viral here at Daniels Executive Education – maybe I can get one of the faculty to do something crazy!