Internet memes are the type of phenomena that split generations apart. Young people think they are amazing. Older generations (even those who are tech savvy) might view them as dumb or simply not get the pop culture references. While I don't consider myself old, I have (on more than one occasion) asked my staff why something is a meme (when I just think it's stupid), only to find out that the meme started on a popular site I don't use and is now permeating other social sites, etc.
Having said that, the minute Marco Rubio took his painfully awkward sip of water from a Poland Spring bottle, we all knew it was only a matter of seconds until a new Internet meme was born. While Poland Spring didn't capitalize on that moment (not out of respect or conscious decision, but just because it doesn't seem to be on top of social media), this incident reminds us just how viral and useful these memes can be.
Some companies have tried to create their own memes before in the hopes they would go viral. But like executives sitting in a room trying to come up with a viral video idea, memes created from those outside the meme culture will rarely ring true or be interesting.
So how can you be part of the meme culture? Enlist some of your younger employees (the ones who are laughing at and forwarding these memes around) to help you with this. Have them create clever versions of the existing memes that use your product or service, or make fun of your product or service. Think: Hillary texting Obama saying she could've had a V8. Or a fast food company telling us just which cheeseburger that cat needed.
Internet memes (and related graphics or animated GIFs) are the viral videos of the Tumblr generation. Anyone doing word-of-mouth or social marketing should look at why these memes are interesting, and start seeing how they can cleverly insert their brands (in a non-corporate way) into these new viral phenomena.
Or if you are a bottled water company, the field is seemingly wide open right now, so go have a field day.
Until next time...
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Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.
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