Marketing Monday | Be The Meme

Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Marketing | No Comments

Marketing Monday

Last week, we talked about targeted marketing, this week let’s discuss if you are just making noise or actually hitting your mark. I said before that Tumblr is very anti-ad, and that resistance allows us to study why some ads aren’t cutting it.

“The youth” is really aware of when you are trying to pander. If you don’t understand a meme, don’t use it to tell to sell things. I don’t want to get into the culture of memes because PBS’s Idea Channel really covers everything you need to know. Please check out “Are Memes & Internet Culture Creating a Singularity?” and “When Do Memes Stop Being Funny?” And maybe even Are LOLCats and Internet Memes Art? if you’d like a throwback to make your art and marketing authentic.

Now I’m not here to shame you if you are a memer. Multimillion dollar industries are working on them and even Fortune 500 companies are doing it. Let’s be honest, we all have much moment, so true, wow.

The fact that businesses are trying to do this means they actually are listening. The errors made are akin to messing up your tenses when writing. The words are real, but the overall sentence is off.

This is what happens when you listen to a subculture you are not a part of. Sometimes we need to admit we can’t be a part of that culture either. That 50-year ad executive can have his ear to the door all he wants, he will never be a teenage girl.

A recent swing and a miss was this funyuns ad that was spit into everyone’s Tumblr feed. And the results were…. mostly confusion. You can tell me what you think of it in the comments.

(My thanks to salora-rainriver for grabbing that screen cap and inspiring today’s topic)

The key to success here isn’t mirror the meme, but be the meme. Let me show you what tricked tumblr into spamming everyone with Madden posts for a solid week.

Their Madden giferator created a platform for people to have fun with. Instead of saying “Look at me, I’m clever and meme” it was an invitation to have fun. And when your product is a video game, that’s spot on. You can see similar successful campaigns from Doritos and Mountain Dew when they had people naming their next new food. The only similar style that I saw fail was from Pepsi. They copied what Madden did, gave a new box of crayons to people, said play!  Then forgot that tumblr has a gif size limit so no one could share them on the website. Whoops?

If you want to meme, but don’t have the enough colors in your toolkit to share (aka you don’t have the budget to launch this huge thing) you might want to try Denny’s approach to “being the meme’. They create more than they copy, and by doing so they are able to serve a meme up while it’s hot, and drop it (like it’s hot).

People don’t follow Denny’s because they wanted to be reminded that you have can pancakes there, they follow because Denny’s makes them smile. And then when someone want pancakes they cash in on that brand loyalty. (Step up your game, IHOP)

It’s the interaction that makes Denny’s posts viral, while other ads only get attention to ask “please god, why?” Interaction is even more important in the book world. Even if a reader doesn’t want to interact with the author directly, they do in some weird way want to interact with the book. They want to feel something while reading, and that creates a brand loyalty to that series or author. That also is the foundation of fandom.

Yelling “buy this” even in meme-language form is not interaction. It’s a far more overt advertisement than you might think. Don’t just listen and repeat what your audience is doing, talk to your audience.  

An app that always advertises (and pays for it) on Tumblr is Episode. Let’s compare their average post, to them talking to their audience.  

Example 1:

Example 2:


TLDR: Don’t react to a meme, interact.

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