Thanks to social media, our collective lexicon is evolving at the speed of light. The best example of this is the pandemic meme.

You might be surprised at how many words start with “pan,” as Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram jokesters started substituting “pandemic” for a range of words. We are in a panorama, a panini, a “panDemi Moore.” Unless you’re clued in on social media, you may be completely confused by this trend.

Memes are funny, relatable, cheap to create, and can increase your brand’s visibility and engagement. But memes can also be tricky: how can you incorporate them in your marketing without confusing, alienating, or offending your audience—or making the even bigger misstep of hopping on a trend too late and looking dated?

The first decision you need to make is if memes are right for your brand—because the answer may be no if:

  • Your brand has a serious persona. Your audience could lose trust in you or think you are making light of serious issues.
  • Comedic writing doesn’t come naturally to you or your marketing team. Don’t push it—audiences can quickly sniff out inauthentic comedy.
  • Your audience is unlikely to “get it.” Memes are usually popularized by young people, so older audiences might be put off by punchlines and references they don’t understand. Also, wordplay tends not to translate well, so if your audience is international or doesn’t speak English as their primary language, you might want to be careful about using memes.

Did we scare you off? We didn’t mean to! Using humor and leveraging current trends are two great ways for your brand to connect with audiences. If your marketing team knows how to tell a joke—and your audience is looking to laugh—here are some tips for using memes as a marketing tool:

  • Watch your competitors. Want to know how your audience will respond to memes? See how your competitors are using memes and what kind of reactions they’re getting. It doesn’t even have to be a direct competitor. It can just be another organization targeting your same audience.
  • Crowdsource your favorite memes internally. You don’t need a big budget for market research. Conduct some internal polls to see what trends your team is loving. For example, LMD is lucky to have a very diverse team to have these conversations with, and across all generations we are loving Noodles the Pug
  • Be prepared to miss. Truthfully, not all punchlines will land, and not all audiences will laugh. That’s ok! Listen to your audience. If you’re lucky, you may just find your niche—like the Duolingo Owl that’s capturing Gen Z hearts on TikTok.
  • Don’t move too slow. If you’re planning your social media calendar for next month, don’t include memes. Their lifespan is short. Make your posts in the moment when the joke is fresh.

Looking for social media expertise that can help you get your meme strategy together? Contact LMD.