What if I Told You Associations Can Use Memes to Grow Membership and Drive Member Engagement?

Memes dominate social media. These little snippets of cultural currency are often humorous and are easily identifiable, they really are perfect for the online medium! As a result, organizations are now using memes to spread brand awareness. In many cases, memes have been used to influence you without you even knowing it. Since memes are built off of a shared knowledge base, they speak only to a privileged “in” group, while those “not in the know” can be left with a desire to get caught up. Netflix, for example, develops memes based on their new movies. Those “in the know” participate in the new meme, spreading the message far and wide, while those on the outside—stuck looking in—are persuaded to find out what they’re missing.

Even if your organization’s products or services don’t play as well on social media as Netflix’s, it’s still possible that you, too, can make use of memes for marketing purposes. The effectiveness of this strategy depends on your audience; however, it is possible to succeed if you observe and follow some of the cardinal meme-sharing rules! Before integrating memes into your marketing strategy, here are a few tips you should be mindful of:

Designed for Social Media

Memes and social media are perfect for each other. Memes allow for quick consumption of engaging, comedic bite-sized content, while social media provides the perfect sharing vehicle through which they can spread. For marketing purposes, the sharing of memes on social media sidesteps hard marketing in favor of brand awareness. After all, the most effective marketing memes rarely focus on brand marketing at all. If they did, the genre-savvy audience would catch the intention and the meme would fall flat.

Bring the Community Together

One of the main reasons memes are so effective for marketing purposes is that they are truly community-based content. Specifically designed to be shareable, funny, and engaging, memes unite members of a community by leveraging a shared knowledge. Typically, the greater the number of people that understand the meme’s material, the greater the number of interactions on a post. People thrive on being aware of trends and bringing others into the mix, and memes accommodate this compulsion like no other. Because of this, memes have dazzlingly high engagement levels, one of the most important factors for an organization’s social media channels. However, make no mistake: memes must be used carefully to be effective!

Stay on Brand

Memes can absolutely be used to build brand relevance and brand awareness, but organizations should be wary; make sure you’re sending the right message when using them! In other words, make sure the meme matches the tone, energy, and values of your brand. If this is done right, memes can help showcase and spread brand identity quickly and easily. If no current memes share the spirit of your organization, you can try your hand at creating your own. While this is typically more challenging, the rewards on success are much greater. The rules for creating are the same as sharing: keep them on-brand and aligned with your audience.

Make Sure There’s an Appetite for It

The environment for memes can sometimes be turbulent. In general, audiences love memes and seek them out, but be warned— people can relate to them very differently. Before you begin sending out memes, be sure you understand your audience and what their appetite for memes truly is. This knowledge will allow you to cater your content to your viewers. The way to do this is simple: observe your audience closely. Take note of the content that resonates with them. What type of memes do they like to share? Now, it’s unlikely that everyone will agree on just one theme or type of content, but you can use this information to find a middle ground. When you first set out, start by sending memes sparingly to test the waters before going all-in.

Use Them Properly

One of the most important things to consider when creating and sharing memes is how to use them properly. Depending on your organization, the language and tone of a certain meme may not be a good fit. Memes often leverage a very specific lingo, one that might feel forced or unnatural coming from the wrong source. To avoid this, you’ll first want to understand the meme, how it originated, and how it has evolved. Make sure that the spirit of the meme doesn’t clash with your organization or marketing goals. You also need to ensure that you use all lingo properly – people will spot an outsider right away. If you need help to accomplish this, it may be worthwhile to have a digital native create the meme for you.

Avoid Major Mistakes

Every meme has an expiration date, though unfortunately, not one displayed for all to see. Some memes gradually fade away, while others disappear overnight. It’s important to get the timing right. If you’re too early, your audience will miss the joke. If you’re too late, you could become the joke. Furthermore, before repurposing a meme or creating your own, you should check the rights of the images used to ensure that there’s no copyright infringement or unfair usage. If you do use an owned image, be sure to ask permission or credit the creator in the method they choose. It’s also a good idea to avoid any images or content that could imply endorsement of another organization or brand, especially if that brand doesn’t share similar values!

When running your organization’s social media, it’s important to stay equipped, making use of every item in your arsenal. After all, it’s dangerous to go alone —so why not take a meme?