According to Dictionary.com, the definition of a meme is: “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.”
Got that? No, me neither!
My rather more un-academic definition is: “…a funny image, most-often seen on social networking sites, which is usually accompanied by a short witty, sarcastic and/or sometimes motivating tagline.”
Just to REALLY hammer it home, here’s the Urban Dictionary definition of a meme: “…used to give a bit of pseudo-academic gravitas to stupid viral sh*t.”
Got it now? Good, I thought so!
Memes have no doubt been around for a long time, but it’s only since the advent of social media that their usage has really exploded. There are now dedicated websites (such as memegenerator.net and quickmeme.com) which allow you to upload one of your images, or use one of theirs, to create your own memes. There are even downloadable smart phone apps (I personally use the one by MemeGenerator) dedicated to the cause of meme creation. Love them or hate them, memes are here to stay, so you better get used to it!
With the intro out of the way, the question is: Can companies (specifically wineries, since that’s my chosen field), use memes for more than “a quick-and-easy share” on Facebook (such as is widely seen with the plethora of Someecards posts) and something with a little more “substance,” in hopes that it will further reinforce their brand identity in a positive way?
NB: Placed throughout this article are all memes which I’ve created from scratch and have in-turn have been shared through various SM channels (mainly Facebook) by other companies/brands. These are only the ones that I’ve caught. Also, it’s worth noting that not a single one of these images was the result of a share of one of my Facebook posts. They were all uploaded directly from my website.
I’ve held the firm belief for a while now that “meme creation” will start to appear in the long list of a marketing company’s specialties; but I have no doubt that the majority of people will clearly disagree with my vision of the future, at least at the moment. Paul Mabray (of Vintank fame) even posted an article entitled Beware of the Wine Meme on the subject of the overuse of wine memes, mainly taking aim at the overuse of the aforementioned Someecards posts.
In response to the notion of memes being overused by brands, I don’t disagree. I don’t think wineries do it maliciously, but with every social media evangelist preaching “…if you can’t post once a day, don’t post at all!,” it’s easy to run out of content! This especially true since “general going’s-on at the winery” posts can have a tendency to be boring i.e. How many different sunset over your vineyard/grapes ripening/brand new wine barrel posts etc. can you POSSIBLY share and hope that people “engage” with!?!?
The overuse of Someecards memes stems from the fact that they get easy likes. If a winery doesn’t have a fully-fledged marketing department, and the ability to create their own content, I can totally understand how they occasionally should want to fall back on them.
It all comes down to Edgerank, at least on Facebook. If you aren’t getting likes, FB will demote you to a lower Edgerank. Until your Edgerank increases, also bearing in mind it’s something which needs to be continuously maintained, fewer people will see your more relevant posts. This is where memes come into play. Memes get likes. Likes raise your Edgerank. A higher Edgerank means that people will see your more relevant content when you post it!
The fact is that memes are not difficult to make and they don’t always have to be “borrowed” from other sources. Sure, some Photoshop skills help, but they aren’t essential to creating a potentially viral meme that bears your name/logo. Take the image below for example. This is probably one of my most shared memes (notice my logo hidden in the laundry hamper to the left). Do you know how much thought went into it? None! My wife was actually doing laundry, holding a glass of wine and I decided to take a photo with my phone. My phone image gallery syncs to Dropbox on my laptop, which I then pulled into Photoshop, where I simply added some text and my logo.
Total project time: 10 minutes, at the most.
Now, with a little more thought I could have quite easily placed a bottle of wine on top of the washing machine (label facing towards the camera), taken the photo with a higher resolution camera and the meme would easily have gone as viral. Et Voila! Instant product placement!
All I’m saying is that memes do indeed have a place in the successful marketing of a brand, and their use goes WAY BEYOND that of what we’re seeing at the moment! All it takes is a little more creativity!
I’m not claiming to be a master of graphic design or even a meme creation genius, but here are a few tips that I’ve learnt along the way:
– Be careful about the image you chose. It obviously needs to reflect your brand identity, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun!
– Make sure to add your own logo, or at least some indication of your brand. If one of your images does end up going viral, you want to make your brand gets the credit, right?
– If you manually add your own logo to a meme, make sure not to make it obnoxiously-prominent. If you make it feel like an ad, people will be less prone to share it.
– When adding your own logo, try not to put it in a place where it will be cropped out. If people can crop it, they will! Trust me!
– On my laptop I probably have a good few hundred images saved into a file named “Post-worthy Images.” Any time I randomly stumble across a good meme that inspires, I’ll simply save it into that folder and come back to it at a later date and create my own, using that image as a base from which to work off of.
– Don’t steal someone else’s meme and add you own logo. That’s a sh*tty move!
– Be aware that any meme you post has the potential to go viral, so try to make every one count!
– If you end up adding your images to your website/blog, make sure all the tags are optimized for SEO. How do you do that…? Sorry. I can’t give away all my secrets! :)