Forget emoji. Clean your desktop of the GIFs. Memes are now the way to communicate. They’re spreading across the
internet as a fun way to engage communities. They’re not all positive and cute, however. As per any communication, they
can be used to manipulate the mindset of viewers. They can be used to normalize extreme behavior, like external agencies
interfering with elections or other major events. In 2021, you need to be ready to protect your brand from memes.
Memes are big amongst younger generations, with 55% of 13-35-yearolds sending memes every week.
Over the last year, that number has grown. Mentions of memes increased over the last 13 months, from 19.8M
mentions in August 2019, to 24.9M in July 2020 (+26%), with a peak of 28M during April 2020. Users turned to
them for engagement and escapism while under lockdown.
As memes become more popular, though, they become more susceptible to being used for malicious reasons. With disinformation on the rise, these memes can influence the mindset of consumers. Many of these mentions
originated from forums that are highly politicized and topics covered included COVID-19 (2.9%), the economy (2.8%) and politics (2%). All highly charged topics are at risk of memetic manipulation. In the coming months
and years, expect memes to be used more to persuade consumers, both on key issues such as these, and the ones that could impact your brand.
Monitor your brand logo
Normally, memes will appear with little to no text mentions. The only way to see if your brand is in one is
through monitoring them through image recognition. Engage in the meme community
Connecting your content to popular memes can help engage this aspect of the community, encouraging
engagement, with the aim of creating more virality for your brand.
Share user-generated memes
If any user-generated meme jumps out, try to share it on the channels they’re naturally most effective on—
forums like Reddit and Twitter are ideal for this. Make sure you credit the creator, as it’ll build a stronger brand
connection while encouraging others to create branded content too.
Be careful what you post
In late 2016, Wendy’s included a meme including Pepe the frog. This caused significant negative
response, as the character is often associated with the Alt-right. Wendy’s had to respond
quickly and delete the offending tweet. Before you share a meme, make sure you’re 100% certain of what it means and its implications.
Check the regulations
As memetic media continues to grow, there will be repercussions, and possibly regulations.
Keep track of them to make sure you’re not breaking any rules. Memes also live on the edge
of copyright rules. Careful use is essential when using memes for marketing purposes, so be cautious to avoid any legal repercussions.