A Meme Approach To Digital Marketing
"Seriously... We're doing everything right. Why isn't this working?" The answer is easy. Its because you aren't doing everything and it sure as hell isn't right.
Excuse me for being so frank, but it's my passion... Scratch that, it's my livelihood.
My personal Instagram (@toshscorner) has 13.3k followers. This number might not seem like much compared to the Kardashians or even meme juggernauts like @hoodclips or @fuckjerry. Here's the kicker though, this motherfucker generates close to a million impressions a month with a reach of over 200K. Thats two hundred thousand individuals that see the bullshit I post every couple of hours.
The reason I'd refer to my own content as "bullshit" is two fold:
1. It is bullshit.
2. See #1
However, when the internet speaks, I listen. As a professional this has given me the opportunity to introduce hundreds of thousands of people to my actual creative / imaging work. Here's where things get interesting though, I'll be the first person to tell you that numbers (for numbers sake) don't mean shit. I say this because if your followers aren't interacting with your brand, you're missing the point.
This brings me to the title of this humble article, "A Meme Approach To Digital Marketing". If you're not familiar with memes, here's Merriam-Webster's definition:
MEME: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture
Memes (discrete units of knowledge, gossip, jokes and so on) are to culture what genes are to life. Just as biological evolution is driven by the survival of the fittest genes in the gene pool, cultural evolution may be driven by the most successful memes.
These little laugh nuggets are essentially disposable media, with a shelf life of no more than three days (on average). The reason they spoil so quickly is because the joke has already evolved by the time you've read it, and your kids are already laughing at its great great grandchildren while you're stuck saying "I don't get it".
So in many ways, this little man going warp speed down a plastic slide perfectly mirrors the rapidly evolving world of digital marketing as a whole; you're either in on the joke or you're not.
I get what you're thinking, "Ok I'm stupid. Now what!?" And I'm just going to stop you right there 'cuz no-one called you stupid, ya big whiner. Good news is, I'm going to give you a few pointers on how to stay up to date with your next generation of consumer.
Think millennials are difficult..? Meet Gen-Z.
This generation was born after 1995, with the OG's now populating college dorms across the world. These young men and women have never experienced a world without the internet and smartphones. They have attention spans comparable to a box full of kittens, and display unprecedented attention-seeking behavior... which can include anything from scantily clad Instagram posts to snap chatting their friend's head in a portapotty at Coachella. They are extremely smart, having had access to the entirety of human knowledge in the form of an iPhone since before they could talk. This generation lives inside of their smart phones, wandering from app to app as if they were physical locations. With each locale being populated with different people and different social expectations. Bottom line, these kids are plugged in and it’s our responsibility to speak to them in their own language; which is not really that hard when we stop shaking our fists saying "these damn kidssssssss!"
Now let’s take a look at a few social accounts that have struck a chord with this coveted demographic, utilizing a memer's mentality:
1. @moonpie - Twitter -
This account is absolutely psycho. Managed by The Tombras Group, of Knoxville Tn, MoonPie has found a way to speak to a Millennial and Gen Z clientele that didn't even exist a year ago for the decades old brand. The account pulls no punches, interacting with followers as if they were life long friends of the chocolate marshmallow treat (the tweets are written as a MoonPie). The account plays on pop culture while keeping a consistent brand narrative, that never feels like it’s trying to sell you something. It’s an absolute pleasure to follow this sweet treat and see what he/she (do liquor store snacks have genders?) is going to say next.
Takeaway: Don't be scared to be funny. Overly formal brand presences work for overly formal brands, but chances are that you don't own Louis Vuitton (oh crap, I forgot that even they did a collaboration with Supreme this year), so be yourself.
Everybody's favorite sweatshirt brand has actually been America's favorite skateboard magazine since 1981. With 3.7m active followers, you'll never see Thrasher post product photos (ok, maybe once in a while on their story to stoke out their retailers). This publication has muscled to the front of the pack by delivering consistent and compelling content on all of their platforms. This incentivizes users to come back, often multiple times a day, to fill their heads with the heaviest skating on the planet. Thrasher is cool. A cool person would never try to sell you something. You want to buy what they have because it is fucking cool. This is why every model, rockstar, rapper, athlete and wannabe has been photographed in a thrasher flame hoodie in 2017. Although sales may slow of their signature wares to all the "posers" outside of the skateboard world, Thrasher will no doubt continue to succeed in providing the world with a no-bullshit onslaught of the subculture via new-media partnerships with Vice, as well as a continually evolving digital presence brought to you by their parent company High Speed Productions.
Takeaway: Authenticity is the name of the game. Skateboarding evolves in the same way memes do, tricks become popular then disappear seemingly overnight. Thrasher has met the needs of their consumer by being the first to post what they deem "cool". And trust us, if Thrasher says it’s cool, it is cool.
Uppercut Deluxe is an Australian mens grooming brand that knows exactly who it is. They produce stellar branded content, assisted by your friends at The Socially Awkward, and source awesome images of a vintage outlaw lifestyle. The brand's digital presence is more traditional than Thrasher or MoonPie, and that is ok! They exist in their own realm and their relentless self-knowledge has allowed them to rise to the top of their industry, without ever sacrificing the fuck-you-attitude that made them unique in the first place. The brand interacts with their followers and averages at least one post a day, rain or shine. The Socially Awkward has been able to aid in this production by shooting fully-formed media packages, with same day turnaround, for use across all of their digital outlets. As Uppercut continues to scale their in-store and online presence, TSA will be there to accommodate any future need they may have.
Takeaway: Your brand is your brand. A consistent visual narrative is crucial. Uppercut doesn't need to pretend who they are because they already know. The brand's Facebook page offers messenger assistance which can give a consumer answers about order status, payment types, as well as any other question they may have. All in all, Uppercut excels at being itself.
At first glance Super Deluxe looks like a standard meme page, but as you dig a littler deeper the production value is the first thing that begins to stand out. This is because Super Deluxe is actually a new-media company founded by Turner Broadcasting in 2005. After a brief run with some notable comedians of the era, Super Deluxe went into a hiatus, only to emerge as a force to be reckoned with in the winter of 2015. The production house churns out mind-bending content, which it posts 3 to 4 times a day. This content then organically migrates through the web via reposts and retweets. The brand even courted Ex Mexican President Vicente Fox, who appeared in a series of videos openly mocking President Trump's plans to build a wall separating our countries. Now, I'm not going to comment on political issues here, but that's some funny shit. As a matter of fact, I think I'm about to go to youtube right now and embed that shit in this article so you can see what it takes to get over a million views. Hold up... Alright here it is:
Takeaway: Do not underestimate your consumer. Super Deluxe excels because it mixes toilet humor with insightful political commentary (literally and figuratively). It operates off the assumption that you are already informed on the issue at hand (and you have to be to get the majority of their jokes, including @tabaskosweet the serial Supreme consumer and all-time hypebeast). The company fully utilizes all social channels, which have garnered them a collective 4M+ viewership. These guys are the ones to watch in 2018.
So, what have we learned here today? To be honest I can't tell you because I've checked my phone about 37 times while writing this article (much to my girlfriend's dismay). But one thing I'm absolutely sure of is this: If you can't produce consistent and compelling media to populate your social holdings at least twice a day, hire someone who can. If that happens to be The Socially Awkward, rad! If not, rad! You just have to get it done because let me tell you from personal experience... Not getting the joke fucking sucks.
Digital Marketing Director