This Ain’t Your Mama’s Meme: How B2B Marketers Can Successfully Tap into this Trend

Jan Sisko at Carabiner PR discusses the use of memes in B2B marketing campaigns to drive reach and engage with a wider audience...

As B2B companies continue to look for ways to stay relevant and top of mind amid the sea of information and content being generated daily, more and more are taking a page from their consumer-focused counterparts and turning to memes to help drive marketing and PR effectiveness.

In its simplest form, a meme is a concept, behavior or idea that spreads, usually on the Internet. Thanks in large part to social media, memes have become a forcible marketing trend to be reckoned with. The most memorable memes cleverly combine funny or memorable images with some creative wordsmithing to generate relatable or humorous moments in time―and ones that are worth sharing. They can also take the form of a link, hashtag, a simple word or phrase (e.g. an intentional misspelling), or even an entire website.

While wildly popular among millennials, memes are starting to resonate with the broader tech-savvy, on-the-go business audience who gravitates toward reading and reacting to short, concise and pointed marketing messages―and for the most part welcomes a good laugh now and again. For example, when HubSpot, the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform, created a “What People Think I Do/What I Really Do” meme for its Facebook page, the sales-themed meme generated an impressive 453 likes, 57 comments, 256 shares. A marketer’s version accumulated a whopping 460 likes, 53 comments, 337 shares.


Benefits of Using Memes Abound for B2B Marketers

Unfortunately, many B2B marketers are overlooking memes because they fail to see the value to their business. But, here are four benefits that should help change your mind:

1. They’re easy to create. Websites, such as, allow you to quickly and easily create your own meme in a matter of minutes. You can upload your own image or take advantage of the already-popular memes and customize for your audience.

2. They’re inexpensive. Because it doesn’t take major design acumen to produce memes, they’re pretty cost effective when taken into the big scheme of developing marketing collateral. However, as with any commercial use of images, there may be license fees involved

3. They tap into our emotions. Everyone likes to feel “in” on the joke. The familiarity, nostalgia and/or silliness a meme evokes are inherent emotions that can connect us more deeply to a brand.

4. They’re trendy. Memes are perfect for infusing fresh and popular content into a stale or stagnant marketing strategy.

Memes can easily be utilized in a marketing campaign strategy to generate buzz or word of mouth. Their light-hearted nature and “sharability” factor are the key reasons so many go viral so quickly. Memes can also be used to generate leads. Marketo, the leading provider of engagement marketing software and solutions, successfully used a series of memes to help drive traffic to a special landing page, offering valuable and relevant content for download.


How to Make Memes Work for You―And Not Against You

As with any marketing tactic, just because a meme campaign works for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Whether or not a meme is a good idea for your company depends on several factors:

· The appropriate brand voice. Memes are meant to portray insider jokes. They often push the envelope to be silly and frequently twist grammar to be humorous. While memes are quick and easy to create, be sure this type of offhand humor fits your brand’s voice.

· The right audience. Understand the makeup of your target audiences. While many of your social media fans and followers might find a meme funny and share it, be aware that the humor can go over the heads of others who might not “get” the joke and be offended.

· A sound process. Be sure you know the origin of a meme so that you don’t post something that’s inappropriate. Websites such as Know Your Meme provide searchable databases of memes with descriptions and sources, so that you can understand the background of a meme before you use it on your company’s social media pages. And, always investigate licensing fees.

Humor, when used creatively, respectfully and tactfully, is an effective way for B2B marketers to connect with their audiences and encourage interaction with their products and services. Memes are designed to hit on emotions that will, in turn, help drive greater reach and engagement for B2B marketing content.