How to Use Memes in Your Marketing

June 9th, 2021

Gilly WcWN29NufMQ Unsplash

If you pronounce memes as mee-mees, then this might be a lot to take in. But strap on in–we promise we’ll keep you safe.

The word was coined by Richard Dawkins and literally means “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Technically, that means democracy could be considered a meme. Hilarious.

Anyways, the internet has redefined memes. Almost always funny, memes go viral very quickly and can be in the form of an image with a clever caption or a video. We know hearing the words “go viral” has marketers perking up all over the world.

In May of 2020, memes were the third-most shared type of content on social media. Second only to personal news and funny videos.

Should you use memes in your marketing? 

As with many things like wearing a flowy dress on a windy day or singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the karaoke bar, it is not always CAN you do it, but SHOULD you do it.

Because of the popularity of memes, you may be tempted just to jump right in.


Consider whether or not memes fit into your marketing strategy and actually help your brand. Memes are a particular genre of content–they’re comical, light, and rarely informational. Make sure the memes you consider using match the tone and style of your brand.

Memes are great for upper-funnel marketing goals, such as customer engagement and brand awareness. They help your audience relate to your brand and make your marketing feel more human.

Are you ready to use memes? Let’s begin.

Know your memes

Memes have developed into their own subculture. There’s a lot of detailed “meme-lingo” to understand the current meme landscape. Consider hiring someone who is meme-fluent or make sure that you are native to the language. We are dead serious right now. This is important.

When your memes are slightly off or not in the proper format, it can work against you. Your brand will immediately get a reputation of being out of touch and trying too hard to be ‘cool.’ Ouch. Not quite the look we are going for.

Each meme has a short lifespan; it is essential to acknowledge that and respect it. If you try to use Bad Luck Brian or Overly Attached Girlfriend, it will be f&%#ing embarrassing. Those memes are history, and your brand image will be too if you try to use them.

I mean, you could make it really funny, but…why?

Make your own memes 

Ok, this one is tough, tbh. You have to create a “meme-able” image of your content and then develop content around it. This takes a lot more creative energy and time than using an existing template.

If you make it work, the rewards are worth the investment. A successful meme is widely shared and then can provide user-generated content as people copy your template. Also, there is always the potential with humor to alienate or offend customers. But playing it too safe is a snoozefest. 

Remember to keep your memes relevant — they should be topical. The culture moves fast, and jumping onto a trend late is…well, cringeworthy. 

You can also create evergreen memes like a picture of a puppy with funny text if you work in the animal industry. Animal memes are always popular.

Have fun with meme challenges and contests 

Constantly monitor social media to see what’s trending. Challenges are great ways for brands to dip their toes into the meme zeitgeist. Let’s take a look at an easy example from a few years ago: #10YearChallenge.

The challenge was simple: Show a picture of yourself from 10 years ago and a current photo of yourself. As a result, it was easy for brands to take advantage of this challenge and even put their own creative twist on it.

Taking advantage of these challenges is a great way to promote your brand and get lots of new eyeballs on your content.


Sounds like a crime, but it’s not. If you screw it up, it could be considered an emotional and social crime. Still, they haven’t finished putting together the meme-police, so you should escape without doing time.

This might be the easiest way to plunge into meme culture as long as it’s done well. Basically, meme-jacking is when a brand hijacks an existing meme and uses it for marketing its own products or services.

Our favorite example of this was the brilliant Pepsi Halloween advertisement.

In 2013, Pepsi released a cheeky ad that featured a can of Pepsi, wearing a Coca-Cola cape, on Halloween. The text on the image read, “We wish you a scary Halloween!”

Clearly, this was a fun way for Pepsi to poke fun at its biggest competitor. Of course, everyone else thought so too, and they began to share the ad, and it quickly went viral.

Coca-Cola took this meme and decided to put a simple but hilarious twist on the image. They simply changed the text to read, “Everyone wants to be a hero.”

It was simple, topical, and funny. Coca-Cola’s response to Pepsi then blew up on its own, going viral and getting billions of views worldwide. 

Both companies were able to profit, arguably though Coca-Cola benefited more by co-opting the meme from Pepsi.

This is a very large-scale example, but the basic principles hold true at any scale. Using memes to be a part of the social conversation can be highly profitable.

Benefits of meme marketing 

Memes are cheap

Memes are the most inexpensive tools for marketing. If you are creative and clever enough, they might not even take up that much of your time. Using an existing image or video, memes are created on the most basic editing tools; very rarely are they complex to design. You don’t even need any graphic design skills to accomplish this. Your marketing budget says, “yes, please.”


Correct execution of the memes makes your brand feel relatable, likable, and trendy. A brand that is in touch with the world and modern is much more appealing to follow and interact with than a stale and boring brand. Memes have a considerable fanbase already. Everyone loves to watch meme videos and images; they are easy to look at, simple, and funny. As a result, memes are among the most shared content on social media platforms today.

Boosts engagement

When your brand feels relatable and human, then you become approachable. Commenting on memes and adding your own twist adds you to the social conversation and motivates your audience to interact with your brand.

A social conversation worth having

Memes are another added layer to the complexity of social media marketing and viral marketing strategies. The culture moves at lightning speed, and you gotta keep up. 

We understand that sometimes, as a business is expanding, they are looking to use viral marketing to continue their growth but may not have the right tools and team.

Luckily for you, Nowadays is ready to take on the challenge. Actually, it’s kind of our thing. We can rack up thousands and thousands of views, likes, shares, content downloads, whichever way you want to increase your social odometer. 

The spice in Nowadays secret sauce is our proprietary Social Scripting process. We finetune conversation that grabs people online and specialize in injecting our campaigns with emotions that force people to take action, whether downloading an app or retweeting your content.

Will you accept this rose? If yes, hit us up.



meme | Definition, Meaning, History, & Facts | Britannica

Digital 2020: 3.8 billion people use social media | We Are Social