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Internet Memes for Business: The Good, the Bad…and the Grumpy

Chances are you have seen an Internet meme by now, especially if you spend any time on social media. Grumpy Cat rules the Internet in much the same way most cats rule their houses. Most people enjoy memes, and for a good reason. Typical memes, by design, appeal to the 12-year-old in all of us – they are either funny, cute, raunchy…or all of the above. Better still? Memes are free and easily transferred between people online – and they hold a great deal of potential for being seen by a lot of people. Enter Internet memes for business; what marketer or business owner would turn down an opportunity to use a technique which is already so popular…and inexpensive? 

Are Internet memes for business a good idea? Sure, people like memes and share them – a lot. Organizations that want to increase their online presence may find memes are effective in spreading their names and messages. On the other hand, brands may want to consider the possible negative ramifications in regards to their reputations. What may seem like a good idea at the time could result in problematic consequences when not completely thought out. Serious businesses rarely succeed by building their foundations on trendy topics.

The lure of viral content.

In a recent post for KISSMetrics, Carter Bowles said the following about the temptations of using memes as a marketing strategy: “It can be frustrating to pour hours of work and hundreds or thousands of dollars into content, only to watch the next Trollface or Nyan Cat pull more traffic.” This may be the case, but keep in mind that viral marketing only goes so far. Within this same post, Bowles describes results from an email analysis performed by Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Two interesting characteristics Berger and his team discovered about highly-shared content: (1) The messages are positive, and (2) The content is useful. Think about these things the next time you’re laughing at a Grumpy Cat meme.

How does the B2B industry really feel about memes?

I invited Brooke Ballard, Chief Strategist and Founder of B Squared Media, to provide her thoughts on using Internet memes for business. Ballard’s primary focus is helping B2Bs with social media strategies. She understands content marketing and publishes bi-monthly articles about content creation and curation for Social Solutions Collective.

Ballard suggests the following insights and solutions for using Internet memes for business:

Ballard: I’ve been known to spout off both personally and professionally when it comes to memes – especially when B2B brands seem to litter their entire social “strategy” with posting memes. 

Yes, they do a good job of garnering engagement. No, that still doesn’t mean you should use this tacky tactic.

Let’s break down the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY when it comes to using memes as a part of your social strategy:

THE GOOD

As mentioned, they can really spark some engagement on your pages, especially shares. And we all know shares are the coveted “end all, be all” for the pesky variable called “weight” in the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm. 

THE BAD

Continuing on EdgeRank, your weight rank is actually affected by a large number of shares. In laymen’s terms? It means that the more people share a meme, the less “weight” the post holds. So if you’re last in a long line of shares for a Grumpy Cat meme, your reach will probably suffer. 

THE UGLY

The ugly can get REALLY ugly

1) Your brand won’t be seen as original if all you’re doing is sharing the same tired meme.

[Solution: Create your own!]

2) You could actually end up with a copyright infringement or plagiarism claim if you’re not careful about where you share memes.

[Solution: Check the ToS and copyright rules behind each and every meme you share – do not, I repeat DO NOT just grab pictures off of Google Images.]

3) What’s the goal of sharing the meme? If it’s just to score a laugh, GREAT! If you’re looking for sales and leads (which I bet you are), memes usually aren’t a good source of valuable content. Try instead posting evergreen content that has tons of value.

[Solution: Use memes sparingly as a way to boost engagement – but not as your main strategy!]

B2B professionals: What are your thoughts about using Internet memes for business? Good, bad…or grumpy? I would like to hear your thoughts!

 

Sources:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_meme

B Squared Media: http://www.b2socialmedia.com/#home

Social Solutions Collective: http://socialsolutionscollective.com/

KISSmetrics: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/science-of-virality/

 

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