Meme Marketing & Your Brand's Social Media Strategy

Katie Wight | July 25, 2023

Memes — pronounced meem for those who aren’t sure — are everywhere.

They’re in our social feeds, our emails, our text streams. They’re a great way to share experiences, make jokes, and make pop culture moments relatable.

For example, as of this writing, the Barbie movie has just hit theaters. Barbie marketing is everywhere — including in memes. Whether it’s stills from the movie or their recent red carpet event, you can’t scroll social right now without seeing Barbie-related memes.
Screenshot of Meet Cute Instagram post
But why do memes like this work (beyond Barbie)? And how can your brand incorporate meme culture into your social media strategy? It all starts with understanding how and why memes work.

The power of the meme

Worried that creating and sharing memes will just increase engagement on social and not get your audience to take action? Think again. The average CTR with social media marketing is 6%, but meme marketing reaches about 14% CTR.
There are also other social media metrics that might be impacted by adding memes to your strategy:

Reach & Engagement: Memes (when created with the audience in mind) often lead to likes, shares, comments, and even “virality.” Memes can capture attention quickly and encourage people to interact with the content. Plus, brands can connect with their audience on a more casual and relatable level, leading to increased engagement and building stronger relationships.

Brand Awareness: When shared and spread by users, memes have the potential to reach a wide audience, extending your brand's visibility beyond its existing followers. Memes that are cleverly tied to a brand or product (like the Barbie memes above) can help create associations and increase brand recognition.

Platform-specific Performance: Memes are “so hot right now” on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Threads. TikTok also uses memes on a more video-based level, using trending audio to create memes. Depending on which platform you’re using, you can drive results based on your brand’s goals.

But to see results from meme creation and sharing, you should know one thing: Timeliness is everything.

“Trendjacking” and meme carousels

Viral images and trends, like Barbie, the Met Gala, reality shows, etc. are all an opportunity for your brand to “hop on the bandwagon” — with intention.

This particular move is called trendjacking, where brands leverage popular or viral memes to tap into an engaging and entertaining online conversation. Think about the Bernie Sanders image, at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
We’ve all seen the memes — they were everywhere for what felt like months. But this is how your brand can “trendjack.” As long as meme-favorited images like this are in line with your brand's values and do not come across as forced or inauthentic, this can work really well.

The biggest thing here? Stay current with meme culture. Memes evolve rapidly, so it's important to stay attuned to what people are creating and sharing. Follow meme accounts, browse meme-focused communities, and keep an eye on trending hashtags to stay in the loop.

When these trends hit, don’t just share other creators’ content. Create your own version of trending memes that relate to your brand, products, or industry (like those Barbie ones I shared above). These will showcase your brand's personality and catch your audience’s eye, as they want to see your take on the trend.  

Pro tip: You can use free meme-making tools or Canva to create these memes in minutes.

Will memes work for your audience?

You can always test memes to see how they do, and limit their use if you find that your audience is not responding well. This is also where it’s important to understand the social media manager vs. community discrepancy — your social media team may have a more nuanced, in-depth understanding of meme culture. Your audience may not!

Where and how to share memes

At each pillar, memes can work — but especially at the Lifestyle Pillar. This is where shareable content focused on reach and engagement performs the best, and that’s what memes are made for.

Here’s a great Barbie meme from Mood Fabrics, which some people may not even be familiar with (I wasn’t).
Why is this great Lifestyle Pillar content? It’s showing people that the brand exists, piggybacking off a fun trend, and is easily shareable to things like Stories and DMs. It also gives you a taste of the brand’s voice and humor, which qualifies new audiences by default.

As far as the Product Pillar, the Stylevana meme we shared earlier really hits the mark.
Once again, it’s piggybacking off a meme trend, but it’s show the products available at their shop and reminds people to grab their SPF — or stock up.

The Value Pillar is also meme-friendly, especially to engage loyal brand fans. Like the Pura Barbie meme I shared before, this is how you can share your mission and remind people what your brand stands for.
There are so many fun and engaging ways to create memes that align with all your content. It just boils down to knowing your audience, their type of humor, and the context of “viral” meme trends.

How to know if the memes are working

Memes are going to provide your brand so much room the play, but you still want to make sure that it’s not just fun. You want results. This is where tracking performance is key.

Monitor the performance of your meme-based posts using your analytics process. Metrics to watch include:

● Reach
● Engagement (likes, follows, comments, saves, shares)
● CTRs
● Conversions (if you can attribute to social)

Unfortunately, memes are not a long-lived social strategy. These are, by their nature, fast to come and fast to go. If you want to make the most of them, you really do need to pay attention to the social landscape and meme accounts. This will increase the impact your memes have on your overall goals.

Of course, it comes down to knowing which memes to share and how to leverage them… which helps when you understand your strategy — without trends.

Be trending without chasing trends

If you want to guarantee long-term success without trying every new trend out there, this course is for you. It’s taken by 15,000+ big-hearted brands, from pre-revenue startups to Fortune 500s to catapult quick, measurable brand growth.

Inside you’ll get access to:

● The Nine Critical Elements of Social Media Success
● Your Channel-Specific Strategy
● 100 Creative Content Prompts For Product Businesses
● My Secret Social Weapon (Your Content Pillar Strategy!)
● Your Paid Social Roadmap
● Your Secret Traffic-Driving Principle
● Your Measurement Model
● … and some killer bonuses

Interested in finding ways to build your social strategy around success — instead of flash-in-the-pan trends?