Home Funny Memes 3 Reasons You Should Use Memes To Reach The New Heartland – Forbes

3 Reasons You Should Use Memes To Reach The New Heartland – Forbes

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A grumpy cat just being grumpy.

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Have you ever felt like you’re living in a meme? You know, those all-too-frequent moments at work when you’re sitting in another boring meeting, conjuring up a hilarious caption on a picture of that annoying co-worker.

There are a dozen ways to define a meme, but Merriam Webster says it’s this: “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” The definition itself could be meme-worthy.

Some of the most famous memes, of course, are the grumpy cat memes of the eternally pissed off cat as it frowned its way onto the Internet in September 2012 and never turned its dissatisfied head back.

2019 has been a good year for memes. There are a lot of funny and sarcastic memes making the rounds on social media these days. Check out what this year has to offer so far.

Memes are grabbing the headlines a lot lately. When James Cameron announced that there would be a sequel to Avatar, (for reasons I still have yet to understand), the film’s marketing team addressed criticism from fans in meme form. Kylie Jenner capitalized on a nursery rhyme with exclusive merch after a video of her singing “Rise and Shine” to her daughter sparked a meme firestorm. Kanye West’s “Jesus is King” album instigated meme reactions across the Twittersphere as expected. In the wake of rising political tensions, communities are forming around candidates and leveraging the power of memes to share their messages through non-traditional means. The trend has inspired Fast Company to deem 2020 the “election year of user-generated content.”

People create memes to cast a spotlight on inconsistencies, wield judgments on events, and find humor in routines. Memes have become an efficient and informative way to express our feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. Brands who know how to use memes effectively can take big strides in building relevancy.

The NHL Makes Memes Great Again

Brands from nearly every industry have waded into meme territory, but none own it quite as deliberately as the Philadelphia Flyers. The NHL team created a Twitter account run by its mascot, Gritty. In two years, Gritty has accumulated more than 278,000 followers and receives off-the-charts engagement on his posts. 

3 Reasons You Should Use Memes To Reach The New Heartland

Memes are an open source commodity. They’re a rare subset of the creative category where original producers aren’t tied to their initial interpretations and actually welcome riffs, re-imagination, and reverse thinking. As such, they provide an opportunity for brands to quickly connect with customers around their culture, values, lifestyle, and attitudes. Although the pervasiveness of memes as we know them, began in 1996, research is just now regarding them as a legitimate marketing tool. Here are some of those findings along with tips for using them to reach the New Heartland:

1. Memes are topical.

A meme performs to its fullest potential immediately after its entrance into the digital space. You have to move quickly to take advantage of the momentum of a meme. According to Scientific Reports, “It has been suggested that topical interests affect user behavior in social media. This is a potentially important ingredient in a model of meme diffusion, as an interesting meme may have a competitive advantage.” Duh. Brands need to fully understand what is interesting or important to the Heartland ahead of time so they can spot a trending item and react according to what the audience will find shareable. This would include anything that aligns with the Heartland lifestyle activities such as music, food, sports, fashion, hunting, fishing, and camping.

2. Memes automatically create credibility and trust.

Through what researchers have deemed the “truthiness effect,” people are more inclined to believe a statement is true if it’s accompanied by a photo. This fact alone, is reason enough to start incorporating memes into your overall Heartland marketing strategy. In case you needed further convincing however, try this stat on for size: Mintel found that 22 percent of social media users won’t follow an influencer that they don’t trust. When an influencer promotes a product, it typically comes off as disingenuous. On the other hand, entertaining content has the opposite effect by increasing affinity towards the influencer and the product they might be passively promoting. When paired with cultural understanding, memes elevate credibility and build trust.

3. Memes = truth, right?

Memes are everywhere. Literally. An attractive meme will get shared and re-posted by many, many people. Even if it’s a false statement, you may see the same meme multiple times. And repeating any statement, whether true or false, can make people more likely to believe the statement.

The first step I recommend for any brand with the objective of gaining influence in the most overlooked cultural segment of America is to compile a list. Start thinking critically about the TV shows, actors and actresses, athletes, musicians, and other conversation drivers that dominate a Heartland resident’s daily life. Set up Google Alerts around those topics and monitor them to find the right time and place to interject your brand into their discussions.

Then, get creative. Make sure you’re speaking the language of the Heartland and develop memes that are short, funny, topical and widely appealing. You may not develop the next ‘grumpy cat,’ but you definitely have a shot at being perceived as more relatable and relevant.

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