Memes are a Gen Z love language. But there are clear and fine lines to what’s inspiring or cringe-worthy.
Year13’s YouthSense research has found the crucial do’s and don’ts of meme marketing. First, a (very) quick lesson on meme culture.
Internet memes are ‘units of culture’ that are imitated and spread widely. It’s diverse – from images with text to dancing challenges, two-word catchphrase like “OK, Boomer”, meme stocks like GameStop and meme names like Karen.
A meme can be created by anyone but only the people of the internet can give something its meme status. And that’s unpredictable.
In fact our What Gen Z Actually Do Online report found 35% of Gen Zs have created their own meme and shared it online. So on top of all the young people who devour memes for a laugh, 1 in 3 are actually also making them themselves. They’re mean judges. So when a business tries to meme it best be prepared for the consequences if its meme game sucks.
“The worst examples can be seen at a Reddit community r/fellowkids dedicated to showing the most try-hard, I’m-a-fellow-kid memes posted by business and large corporations,” a 16-year-old male from Queensland told us.
So to make sure you don’t end up the butt of a Reddit joke take some of our advice here to ensure your meme marketing game is strong.
The 101 on meme marketing to Gen Z
Let’s start with the not-so-good – sorry, we’re only the messenger!
“Maybe don’t do what KFC did and start your own TikTok dance trend that was a bit ‘down with the kids’ and just never took off,” a 17-year-old female from Queensland said.
Remember: memes are created by the people.
And you’ve gotta be careful about spending top dollar on a campaign that takes months to execute.
“Often memes get old by the time a company has produced an ad related to it and it just makes them seem daggy and like they’re trying too hard to relate to this generation,” a 17-year-old from South Australia said.
Remember: memes move fast.
And just as important as the meme can be the bants that follow.
“UP&GO does this perfectly. They have created memes that users of Instagram can get a laugh out of,” an 18-year-old male from Victoria said.
“The comment section has stayed extremely positive, especially since UP&GO replies to these comments with witty and helpful responses.”
Remember: reply to comments!
Finally, you can’t be all-memes-blazing, make sure you have a nice follow up.
“Brands would be able to best target me through a mixture of discrete and obvious ads on Instagram, potentially using a meme format or text-post shit post like the iconic savage Wendy’s Twitter account,” a 17-year-old female from Queensland said.
“Just because it humanises the brand allowing for an emotional connection. If this was then followed up by a sleek and simple advertisement I would be more interested.”
Some say though to just stop with the whole meme thing.
“Young people see this as an obvious attempt to grab our attention and it looks stupid,” a 21-year-old from NSW said.
“We are normal people who talk and act normally, so stop treating us like children who think flashing lights and relatable but incredibly outdated memes will catch our attention. Hillary Clinton’s “Pokemon go to the polls” comes to mind.”
So to meme or not to meme? That is the question.