Try as you might, you won’t find a secret formula to going viral. What are the odds you’ll be the next Overly Attached Girlfriend or Good Guy Greg? Slim to none.
But hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
Many companies have hopped on the meme bandwagon over the past few years, putting their own personal touches on content that is already viral.
So, we decided to highlight some of our favourite examples of companies using memes to grab attention (and keep it). If you’re going to tap into the power of memes, make sure you take some notes from these three.
1. Mashable & Grumpy Cat
The Meme: Grumpy Cat is notoriously malcontent and virtually infamous in tech circles. Anyone who’s anyone has seen at least a dozen pictures of Grumpy Cat looking, well, grumpy. Grumpy Cat’s real name is Tardar Sauce and she skyrocketed to Internet stardom in late 2012 when her family posted a picture of her on Reddit.
The Company: Mashable covers everything from social media and tech to entertainment and lifestyle. If you work online or in the tech space, you likely read Mashable from time to time. With 20 million unique visitors a month and 60 articles tweeted every minute, it’s kind of hard to miss.
The Connection: Mashable and Grumpy Cat are basically BFFs. Grumpy Cat got to tour Mashable HQ. She even made an appearance at Mashable House during SXSWi this year. So did Scumbag Steve and the creator of Nyan Cat. People were lined up around the block to catch a glimpse of Grumpy Cat at SXSWi. A tip of Scumbag Steve’s hat to you, Mashable.
2. People For Bikes & Shit People Say
The Meme: It all started one cold winter night when a few guys decided to dress up like girls and film it for YouTube (seriously). The guys teamed up to mock the various mannerisms and cliches of teenage girls and young women, calling it Shit Girls Say. The Internet was instantly in love with the idea and thousands of similar videos popped up everywhere.
The Company: People For Bikes is dedicated to making life as a cyclist more enjoyable. They’re working on gathering a million names of support to bring us all closer to more bike lanes, paths and trails. With an awesome mission, People For Bikes is changing the future of biking one signature at a time.
The Connection: You have to laugh when you’re the joke, right? The team at People For Bikes took to YouTube to create Shit Cyclists Say, poking fun at some of the ridiculous things cyclists are known for. Where their videos normally see 1,000-2,000 views, that video in particular received over 1 million!
3. Abercrombie & Call Me Maybe
The Meme: Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe achieved a level of Internet success that is rivaled only by Rebecca Black’s Friday. The song almost instantly took off, inspiring hundreds of covers and parodies on YouTube. Overly Attached Girlfriend even got on the bandwagon. Memes on memes, people!
The Company: Known for their busy stores, loud music, and dim lighting, Abercrombie & Fitch is a clothing company primarily for teens and young adults. And it’s a controversial clothing company at that.
The Connection: There are a lot of people on the Internet. And, as it turns out, 20 million of them have been waiting around to see a bunch of good looking half naked men lip syncing a Carly Rae Jepsen song. So, forget what I said earlier. The secret sauce might actually exist: abs and pop music.
Some Final Tips
1. Focus on entertainment value. Putting too much energy into promoting yourself in your meme-inspired content is a common mistake. Memes are meant to be entertaining and fun. If you create great content, people will be naturally interested in you as the creator. You don’t need to be overtly advertising!
2. Get on the bandwagon early. In the beginning, memes are novel and exciting. Sure, they tend to stick around for a long time, but the landscape gets over-saturated. It’s much easier to stand out and attract attention in the beginning than it is to try to come into the game late. Keep an eye on our friends over at BuzzFeed so you’re on top of the latest memes.
3. Don’t try to master every meme. New memes are popping up every single day. Don’t try to take advantage of all of them. If one is a good fit and you can develop entertaining content for it, jump on it immediately. Otherwise, let it slide. As usual, it’s quality over quantity.
4. Keep them around with more great content. No one wants to be a one hit wonder. So, before you set out to piggyback on a meme, make sure you have enough great content to keep all of those new visitors interested. Start a blog, schedule some webinars, write some eBooks, etc.
No one has the ability to guarantee content will go viral. That’s just a fact of content marketing. But, what we can do, is identify what’s already viral and create content around that topic. Instead of throwing things against the wall, hoping they’ll stick, consider how to tie your brand into the latest meme. Your viral potential will skyrocket, just like it did for these three.
Have you ever piggybacked on a meme? Send us your meme-based content in the comments so we can check it out.