Wondering which brands are crushing it with their memes on Instagram? Chances are you’re looking for some social media meme inspiration. Or you want to study how to create memes that go viral. Perhaps, you just want to have a good laugh with funny memes (who really doesn’t want that!).
Whatever the case may be, you’re in the right place. Because in this post, we’ll walk you through 7 brands on Instagram that are doing meme marketing right especially with the pandemic, brands are using work from home memes to their benefit. But that’s not all. We’ll also look at what makes a meme go viral and how you can create one for your Instagram. Also, if you are a marketer you need to know about Top 26 Social Media Management Tools for 2023.
Let’s get started:
What is a meme and how is it pronounced?
For a formal meme definition, a meme is a shared belief, idea, or style that’s widely transmitted through the internet. But, really, a meme is typically a light-hearted image paired with text that makes fun of a situation.
Most of all, memes share inside jokes, so someone looking at it can instantly resonate with it. For example, social media marketers can easily relate to this Kermit: But That’s None of My Business memes:
So a handful of characteristics that explain a meme are:
- A meme typically pairs an image with a text
- It’s an audience-specific inside joke that people can relate with
- Memes usually make fun of a situation so they’re best to add a touch of humour to your marketing
It’s also important to note that viral memes are ones that pick up on a trend and pair it with a relatable situation. But that’s not a necessity as some memes are evergreen like the Success Kid that I’ve seen circulating the internet since I was a teen (the kid’s probably all grown up now).
Oh wait, but did I tell you how to pronounce a meme? The right way to pronounce it is ‘meem.’ Don’t confuse that for ‘mee mee’ or ‘may may.’
What is meme short for?
Essentially, the meme comes from the Greek word, mimema, which means ‘imitated.’ It’s used in the English language dates back to 1976 though when Richard Dawkins, the British evolutionary biologist used the term in his work The Selfish Gene to explain imitation.
If you look at the word in the context of its present use, it makes perfect sense as all memes are basically imitations – copying an expression and pairing it with some text to crack a relevant joke.
What is an example of a meme?
You don’t have to be an avid social media user to have seen a meme example before. If you have a sibling or a kid that’s glued to their phone round the clock, chances are they’d already have pulled out a meme at some point and shared it with you.
For now, here are three more funny meme examples that are widely popular over the internet:
- The salt bae meme
- Pepe the frog
- Squid Game meme
Source: Business memes – Replug
- Buzz Lightyear Everywhere meme
What does a meme help with?
Good memes make fun of a situation. Yes, you’ve read that above. But, really, it’s one of the foremost things to put on a meme’s CV. Thanks to this making-fun attribute, you can use memes to have fun with your audience and connect with them by sharing an inside joke.
On top of that, if your meme goes viral or popular among your followers, you’ll be able to increase brand awareness and Instagram growth and other platforms for that matter. So that’s a great plus when it comes to planning memes as part of your marketing strategy.
Not to mention, a good meme can encourage engagement as your followers share it with their community and leave comments about how they can relate to the situation that the meme emulates.
So, briefly, a meme can help you in three ways:
- Connect with your target audience
- Increase brand awareness
- Boost engagement levels
Aren’t these some good benefits? Think you want to create one yourself? Read on as we dive into what makes something a meme and how to make a perfect one yourself.
Related Read: How To Ace Instagram Aesthetics For Businesses
What makes something a meme?
Any expression, act, or words that are relatable to your target audience can make an excellent meme. Generally, a meme is an image paired with text. But, it can also be a video or a block of text.
The key, however, is relatability. Not everyone can relate to this Buzz Lightyear Everywhere meme, for example. But marketers know well what the meme is getting at.
So for something to be a meme, relatability is important. Of course, how relevant or on point, a joke is in your meme depends on how well you know your target audience. So start there if you are serious about meme marketing.
A third factor that’s crucial here is the copyright-free nature of memes. Translation: you can pick up any trending meme and make one out of it with a joke that’s specific to your audience. The Buzz Lightyear Everywhere meme, for example, has been turned into thousands of niche-specific memes – two of which have successfully made it into this piece.
Taking up a trending meme like this one is known as meme-jacking. It’s cost-effective, time-saving as you don’t have to think of a joke from the scratch, and they attract likes, links, and lots of engagement. So marketers are you taking notes?
How do you make a perfect meme?
For your ease, I’ve divided this process into two steps:
- Understand what makes a good meme
- A 3-step framework to make memes
Let’s address each step by step.
What makes a good meme?
The following factors count to make a good meme:
A good meme pairs a high-quality visual with text
Quality is crucial. Without it, an otherwise good meme might miss its chance at going viral.
“The image needs to be bold, needs to be clear,” notes Prof. Dr Sandrine Han, a visual arts and visual literacy professor when asked what makes a good meme. “When you see the image, you know the intention.”
Equally important is a meme’s copy of the text you pair with the image. In short, the first characteristic of a good meme is an excellent quality image and relatable text.
It targets an audience and is relatable to them
Don’t aim to go big. Aim to resonate with only your audience. After all, trying to please everyone might lead to pleasing no one. So, the second ground rule here is to know your audience well. This way, you can come up with relatable memes – making fun of something, aggravating a situation, or simply sharing an inside joke.
It’s clear and fresh
Even as you jack memes, keep in mind that you’ve to be quick at chasing trends. Doing so can help you create engaging content.
If you plan on creating a meme from the scratch, it helps to keep in mind that the image you select and the text you pair with it have to go with each other and make a clear, easily understandable duo.
On top of that, the image-text pair should also be easily iterable so that others can pick on it and share their versions too. Go back and look at the meme examples shared here to understand how each meme is worth copying.
A good meme is absurd
Lastly, viral memes are witty and somewhat silly. A “meme scientist” at Know Your Meme, the meme bible, told Vice, “the formula [for creating a good meme] often involves an absurdity, and it also requires a certain inside-joke quality.”
So are we clear on what makes a good meme? Let’s start making one then:
The 3-step framework to create awesome memes
The best place to start is by learning about your audience and their pain points if you don’t already know them. Once you’ve done this homework, follow these steps:
Pick a problem
Almost every meme shared so far and shared below stokes a problem. Because that’s where a good meme starts and so should you. Think of a problem that you can aggravate or make fun of, so it will be easy for you to create an effective marketing plan. This problem is what will help you get attention, which is why it’s your first step in your meme-making mission.
Aggravate the problem
Rub the problem you’ve picked. Memes are a reaction to everyday problems. By figuring out how you’ll rub the problem, you’ll make a reaction-based, fun-packed meme.
Target all of this to your audience
The last but crucial step is to make sure your problem resonates with your target community. Do you target agencies, for example? Make sure the image and text you’re planning to create your meme are relatable to them.
And, that’s all. You are done. But it helps to keep in mind that the more memes you create, the better as it’ll help you understand what gets your audience excited. So, it’s never a one-time job. Instead, create several. Then, sit back and analyze what stuck with your audience.
7 Brands that are getting memes right on Instagram
Now that we’ve discussed what a meme is and what makes a perfect one, let’s look at some brands that are putting all this theory into practice.
This crispy corn chips brand regularly posts memes that have a bugle or two slipped into the image. The meme above is just one example of a bugles-featuring meme that works for quite a few reasons.
Firstly, it takes a cute penguin picture where they’ve cleverly introduced their brand. Cute images like that of pets, babies, and a penguin-like this one are known to hold viewers’ attention and generate engagement.
Secondly, the meme pairs the cute image with some fun copy. Bugles fans know the truth behind the text. Loading bugles into their cart every time they go grocery shopping is all too common. On the other hand, people who haven’t had Bugles before can tell that the chips are tasty enough to be stacked, which piques their interest. So the next time they step outside, they’ll probably get themselves at least a packet of Bugles.
Thirdly, the meme’s brilliant because it subtly and cleverly introduces its product. Of course, this takes brand awareness to a whole new level. Not to mention, the company is able to connect with all of its followers who love and stack the chips. So that’s two birds down with one stone. 🙌
Related Read: How To Use Instagram DM To Improve Conversion Rates
2. The Beard Club
The Beard Club is a beard supplement provider with a super-specific audience – bearded males. To keep their bearded club members engaged and attract new ones too, the brand’s Instagram channel frequently makes fun memes that are oh-so-relatable.
The meme above is one example of the lot. So let’s starts looking at what gives this meme a full score on the meme scale.
For one, the images are on-point and of good quality. Note that this meme takes a creative twist – it pairs two images to portray a common situation – one that everyone who survived the long year (2020) can relate with.
Next, the meme pairs relevant text to explain the images. Although the dates on both the images pretty much do the talking, the text clarifies and explains further.
Lastly, the meme is tailored to their audience so it’s both clear and relatable for them. In fact, it’s so relatable (as it borders on the truth) that even non-bearded folks (myself included 🙋) can understand what they’re talking about it.
It’s also worth pointing here that the meme is time-sensitive. It picked up a trend and made a meme out of it. But there are more evergreen memes from where this one comes from. Here’s one, for instance:
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Baby Yoda is a hit and this meme has capitalized on his popularity by capturing a funny situation.
Very is an online retailer that sells stuff from fashion brands like Ralph Lauren, Nike, and more. The brand often posts memes for fun. The underlying aim? Connecting with their followers. After all, it doesn’t have to be about you all the time.
Very’s Instagram memes show they understand this. The meme above is a case in point, proving that they shared it to connect with their followers and grow engagement (look at those comments 👀).
Again, a pointer that determines this meme’s success includes a cute picture with text that pronounces the message the picture makes. The quality is also on point as is the meme’s absurdity and relevance levels.
There’s also another element that Very brings to the table: its branding. But that’s more prominent in other memes like this one:
See those pink, green background behind the main action, white-boarded meme? Those are colours and patterns that align with Very’s visual brand. This way, when the meme is shared, Very’s signature branding gets shared with it, adding to the brand awareness.
Also Read: How To Use Instagram Story Templates
4. Epic Reads
Epic Read’s another brand that posts interesting memes. But here’s their secret sauce: their memes are super-specific to their target audience of book readers. Just look at the meme I’ve shared. Can you relate? Not unless you are a reader that keeps up with all the latest books.
Hence, their meme’s relevance is point number one on what makes this brand’s IG meme a hit. Next, they’ve played their branding game well. The beige and red colours in the background are from Epic Read’s colour palette. To add to the branding touch, Epic Reads has also included its logo in a non-intrusive style.
Hence, as in Very’s case, when book nerds share this meme, Epic Read’s branding is shared along with it. A handful of people will even learn of their brand this way and give them a follow on IG.
Thirdly, this meme is plain creative and relevant. The book titles are carefully worked into a picture that’s widely popular over the internet. Not to mention, there are three things that add to the meme’s relevance: the popular background picture, the books, and, finally, the text. This way, the meme checks off all points in the good meme character list.
Chipotle has a knack for being creative at everything they do. From their TikTok videos to Instagram memes, they ace it all. This meme, in particular, is brilliant on a whole new level.
So what makes this meme unique? A couple of factors starting with how they’ve made a meme from their product using a few emojis. It teaches us: you don’t need to rely on an outside picture when you can put your own product into the spotlight creatively.
Next, the meme’s text is pretty rad. Most of all, it sends a clear message to their audience – you can have Chipotle even when you’re broke so there’s something for everybody!
Lastly, the overall quality of the meme is epic. If this would’ve been a picture taken poorly, the whole meme could’ve fallen apart. And, since Instagram is a visual platform, you simply can’t compromise with the image quality in your Instagram grid.
The dating platform shares memes widely, but this one is a bit different to the rest on the list since it’s a video-based meme. And it’s great! Why? Let’s look at the reasons.
One, it’s unique. You’ll mostly find image-based memes out there. But since the video has been all the rage lately, such a video-based meme can help you level up engagement on Instagram. Of course, you don’t have to go full in with video-based memes, but you can always mix text- and video-based memes.
Two, the meme is very relevant so much so that everyone can resonate with it. The concept behind this meme is to show how you run away when you see toxic people. With a cheetah in the footage, the reality of the situation comes out clearly. So this meme wins points on both clarity and relevance.
Lastly, OkCupid managed to squeeze in their logo too. This means it wins on the branding-your-memes scale as well. Needless to say, the more this meme is shared, the more people will look up its creator. Brand awareness = nailed. Bingo!
The inauguration of the US president, Joe Bidden, back in January gave us this picture of independent Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, sitting socially distant from the rest.
The picture’s gone viral and nearly everyone has tried their hand at pairing it with funny captions and iterating it into memes like the one above. Here are more:
The internet really can be magical pic.twitter.com/Jrwkj2twii
— Ashley Holub, PhD (@ashtroid22) January 21, 2021
As with other brands, Totinos also jumped the trend and created a meme featuring their pizza roll. What makes this meme a winner is, of course, the creative way the brand has taken over a trending meme and made it relevant to their brand. Picture quality, accompanying text, and relevance: all check.
Like Instagram Twitter is also an excellent platform for meme content for brands. Some brands have lately been killing it with humour on Twitter.
With the examples you saw today, I’m sure you can see a pattern to what makes a good meme. To recap, a good meme is relatable, witty, and unique – it hits the nail on the head by making a point or a joke or fun of a situation that a target audience can relate to.
Interested in making memes for your Instagram? You already have some inspiration at your fingertips. So what are you waiting for? Start creating.
Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer by day and a novel nerd by night. She crafts research-backed blog posts and articles for small businesses and app companies who aim to employ quality content to educate and engage with their audience.