How to use meme marketing in business

Memes put recognizable images into a satirical context with a pithy caption or text overlay. It’s not just individuals on social media enjoy using this format ⁠— more and more companies are starting to include memes in their marketing mix. For good meme marketing to succeed, however, there are a few rules that need to be followed.

What is a meme?

Memes are usually images in combination with some text. They’ll often thematize a current issue or topic, and react to it ironically or humorously. If used correctly, memes often go viral, i.e. they are frequently shared on Facebook and other social media and spread like wildfire. Note that memes are images with text only ⁠— if a short video with a text is created in a similar way, it is a GIF.


Want to know how to create a GIF as well as the answer to the question “What is a meme?”? Simply read our separate guides.

What makes a good meme?

Good memes will go viral. This is achieved when the image and text fit together exactly and a clear message is communicated, one that is intuitive and easy to understand – in essence: snackable content. In terms of content, a successful meme will comment on current events or trends and strike a chord with the target group’s sense of humor. Young people between the ages of 15 and 30 send memes to one another ⁠— a third of them even do so daily.

Meme marketing for businesses

Knowing this, companies should consider using memes in their content marketing, for example, in the context of storytelling. Meme marketing primarily plays a role in B2C communication, which is when you market to your consumers. However, that’s not to say it can’t also work with B2B communication, which is communication from one company to another.

With a well-made meme, companies can not only promote their products or services, but above all make their brand known and get (new) customers to engage with it. The images have high interaction rate ⁠— they are not only shared, but also commented on a lot. As a result, in the best-case scenario, companies hardly have to worry about spreading their (advertising) message ⁠— customers do that for them. In addition, memes are produced quickly and inexpensively.


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Important rules for good meme marketing

In order for you to be successful with meme marketing for your business, it’s important to strike just the right tone. Specifically, this means:

  • You need to know your target group’s exact sense of humor and assess how much irony and/or sarcasm they can understand. Important: The meme does not necessarily have to match your humor.
  • Pick up on current trends and events ⁠— for this, too, you need to know your target group on the one hand, and recognize potential for good stories on the other (preferably before your competition does).
  • The meme must fit your brand and product. Similar to influencer marketing customers quickly notice when a statement or tone of voice does not match the brand. Authenticity is extremely important in meme marketing.
  • One rule of a more practical nature: make sure that you only use images where the copyrights have been checked and cleared, and refer to them if necessary. Never pass off media and ideas as your own if this is not the case – people catch wind of this very quickly on social networks and it can cause an online PR nightmare.

If you are not confident in your ability to communicate humorously and appropriately via memes, seek professional support in the form of content creators or social media specialists. If necessary, they can also take over community management and get in touch with users if a meme doesn’t work as well as hoped.

Examples of successful meme marketing

There are plenty of examples of successful meme marketing. We’ve collected a few exemplary posts from businesses below which illustrate meme marketing done right. This should give you a better insight into what can be achieved with good meme marketing, and what the formats generally look like.

Netflix: NetflixIsAJoke

Meme marketing by netflixisajoke. Note the high number of likes and user engagement in the comments / Source:

Netflix has tuned in to the meme marketing potential, but has done so in a unique way. Using screenshots from its own shows, the company posts memes on a separate Instagram sister account, dedicated to meme marketing called “netflixisajoke”. The format is similar to familiar memes, but the images and text itself are always unique and new. It’s a clever way to promote Netflix’s own content as well as appeal to social media users and increase engagement on social media platforms.

Clean Skin Club

Meme marketing done well by Clean Skin Club – using a familiar template and adjusting it to suit the brand /

The images which are suitable for memes depends on current events, the context, and the target group. A typical example of a popular meme is U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders asking for financial support, an image and caption taken from a real moment with the Senator, but often transposed into different contexts for comedic effect. Some companies will also make use of Internet users’ familiarity with the original meme and adapt the caption so it suits their message, just as Clean Skin Club did in their meme marketing.

Simple Skincare

Simple Skincare has created a meme using a template to look like a Twitter post, so the formatting of the meme is familiar /

This example of meme marketing by Simple is interesting because the company has formatted their meme to look like a Twitter post. The company’s name is shown in the meme with the @ tag used on Twitter, as well as the two horizontal lines delineating the post itself. This copies a well-known meme format on Instagram where screenshots of Twitter posts are used to post as an image on Instagram. It is a clever adaptation of a familiar meme format, so it is instantly recognizable as a meme. Furthermore, the image of the dog is a well-known picture for memes, and therefore the company riff off an existing format to make sure their meme follows “meme rules”, whilst ensuring their content is still original.

Note also that Simple use their caption to try and increase customer engagement by asking a question related to the meme and that focuses on their brand and product. You can see in the comments that Instagram users are engaging with the brand well thanks to this additional strategy.

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