By Raghav Bagai
Brands are rewriting the rules of marketing and advertising.
Pushed, but not afraid to indulge. Opposite, but empathetic. Laid back, but not frivolous. The greatest cheerleaders are their audience. And the audience is the child of a momentary culture, shaped by technology and the gifted attention span of a goldfish.
Not to forget, they have morning cups of coffee with memes.
Memes are now the cryptocurrency of content, some have cracked it, some are still confused, but all brands want to try it!
Conventional advertising is on the decline these days and memes have taken center stage. It wasn’t that long ago that mem sharing became a trend on social media as people, especially Gen Z, voiced their opinions on a range of issues with a dash of humor.
Today, memes travel faster than light. The impact is such that from cricketers to politicians, everyone is addicted and you will meet thousands of them just casually scrolling.
From the photo of an angry Pakistani cricket fan at ‘Pawri ho rahi haigirl, not to mention the egg that topped Kylie Jenner’s post, brands have used it to connect with people, and they’ve taken advantage of that as well. Friendly social media jokes via memes have emerged as a new concept and have taken everyone in their frenzy.
What started out as a fun joke is now a full-fledged marketing strategy. Brands are coming up with new memes templates specifically to promote an event, web show, or new product.
From the Mumbai Police outreach strategy to Tinder India’s relationship myth busting, everyone communicates through memes. The best part is, it’s simple, easy, and very inexpensive. The only thing you need is to know how to use it on the point.
But how do you use memes the right way, and is there even a right way for memes?
In meme marketing, context is what makes you click and content is what makes you stay.
It can be subtle or punchy, but should be guaranteed with humor. Brands are increasingly exploiting business opportunities with the spending potential of young people in mind. This has led to the emergence of a new type of digital marketing called ‘meme marketing’. From trolling to friendly banter, memes have become a language for everyone, be it Tinder, Zomato, Swiggy and more.
If that is not enough, we invest a lot in the network of campus ambassadors to create content by young people, for young people. It works wonderfully because the brand feels more personal and not like a giant company not getting what we want. The meme is the ultimate icebreaker between brand and consumer. Social media platforms have around more than 400 million users. Much of this population is in India, using social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. With data packs costing peanuts and smartphones available in all budgets, people, especially young people, are spending more and more time on social media. It has therefore become important for brands to use this new tool to convert people into potential customers.
It has become easy for brands to capture the attention of target audiences on social media through memes marketing. Swiggy India is one example, on Independence Day, Zomato’s marketing strategy stole the show with a quirky social media post “Sorry, we are no longer taking orders – India, August 15, 1947”. Simple but so spiritual!
The strategy was smart but risky as well, many missed the context, but it largely paid off as the post received multiple retweets and shares on social media platforms and Zomato earned a brownie point. It’s an example of meme marketing and how brands capitalize on that strategy.
Zomato’s rival Swiggy has also taken memes marketing as their own language for tweeting about deals, discounts, and more.
The Tinder dating app is very active with memes because its engagement with users is very high. This gives Tinder an edge over rival dating apps. Few witty and brand memes have gained popularity overnight with followers who can be potential customers. That said, memes are still an underutilized tool, they have the potential to speak to their audience in the narrative they understand. Some brands lose the spark by pushing their products hard. It’s a big blow to memes addicts.
The pandemic has just added value to this style of marketing. With more time indoors and phones being your only business, memes have become the bridge that connects brands to their target audience.
Plus, comedy is the key approach these days, given that people’s appetite for such content is really high and a dynamic approach is needed to capture the attention of this generation that wants it all instantly. Memes marketing is good for improving brand engagement. This helps them boost page engagement, build audience community, and improve branding.
So, whether it’s Neeraj Chopra winning gold in the javelin, a sport little known in India, or a blunder by a politician, it takes seconds for memes to flood social media platforms. And brands have gradually learned the art of taking advantage of it.
Scope of memes marketing
Memes marketing is still in its infancy and is evolving with each passing day. Memes are easy, and there are plenty of memes makers online that brands can partner with to stay in the game.
But a word of warning: memes aren’t for everyone, they can be offensive. And it backfires in seconds, leading to trolling and embarrassment for brands, and it can risk it all, but thinking safe is never going to go viral. Two sides of the same coin.
However, it’s here for the long haul, so you might as well dip your feet in it until it lasts. Until then, don’t underestimate the power of a meme.
The author is a co-founder of Sociowash. The opinions expressed are personal.
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