Have memes become a little too much?
The dictionary describes the word meme as;
1.an element of a culture or system of behavior passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.
2.an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.
I will concentrate on (2), and that was what it was when first we got acquainted to memes. Some people going ahead to pronounce them as “Meeme( Like how it would be pronounced in Luganda to mean throat…). Memes served their purpose, and they still do.. They have as much power to leave your eyes welled with tears and your teeth plastered on your face.
The reason I give rein to this post however is how memes have obliterated creativity; especially with professionals and social media influencers hoping onto the wagon. It is rather disheartening that what started as a wave of creativity has now sadly translated into the norm as a way to target audiences.. See when first this kind of approach was introduced to marketing; one looked at a campaign or a poster and immediately- it spoke of minds at work. They were tactical well thought up ideas to communicate to the elite community, and now memes to campaigns feel like a sea of lazy minds.
Well this is my opinion; Memes tagged to campaigns relay the message of un-professionalism— A lot more than you can imagine.
Overtime, I have been keen with the performance of some campaigns I have seen on various social media platforms. They start off on a high note, with people interested, some even going ahead to give the campaign a genuine shout-out, and then as though cold wind from the North, a meme, then two, and before you know it, the timeline is covered in all sorts of text, captioned pictures and videos of humor. It is undeniable how people following, especially the ones the campaign was designed to target, even the ones whose interest was piqued, then withdraw.
Now here is the Ugly truth, the one most people want to tell you but don’t see the reason as to why they should anyway;
- Memes will go before you and communicate of your un-professionalism
- Memes most definitely taint the brand’s image
- Where is the creativity in memes again? Or lets say, where is the creativity in hoping onto something that is already engineered?
- How often have you attended, purchased, a product, concert that’s been marketed with memes?
I am always about brand perception; What people think about a brand will stem from their marketing, from the appeal they experience with the brand, and (especially in these times) what goes up on their social media.
To taint an image comes easier than building it up. And lately with over the top stats reporting how helpful it is to hit the mainstream audience by using influencer marketing, companies are out-sourcing a bunch of influencers on a low budget hoping they can push their agenda—some are not very conversant with content creation and therefore do as they please, sell the brand with memes, have people like and laugh, retweet and share without as much clicks to the company’s websites or ROI.
Mid last year, I ran a campaign with influencers on board, I sought mileage but also that the campaign accomplishes a set target. I created a whats-app group to ease communication as well as share artwork and text(typically cheating exams for them). When we rolled off the campaign, I was perplexed at how these “renowned influencers” executed– It was funny in the beginning but it got monotonous, irritating and as things turned out, the funny messages overshadowed the content. None of these people used the Website links I shared, none read the articles regarding the product that I wanted to communicate about— Content Vs Memes was 4% and 96% respectively. Much as I called off the campaign, I realized that not many people hold dear a brand’s reputation as they do this influencing. Brand image is such a big deal, whatever a brand is related to in any space can be categorized as either gold, silver, bronze, wood or unfortunately as hay and stubble– very expensive or very cheap!!
For someone that is still wondering about memes– here is where a person gets a funny picture or video, captions it in relation to a campaign or an entity and sends it out, yes– I do not refute that back in the day they excellently marketed however lately too many cooks are adding salt to the same sauce, it is now absurdly bitter and they don’t seem to realize that much.
And much as many people will sell you the idea of brand visibility which is very important for any entity, company, project… et cetera, it is important what the brand is visible for. The growing tendency of social media managers, heads of content, and marketing officers letting jokes related to their brand slide, in the end costs much more than their budgets may intend to provide for— i mean would why would you be casual with a pool of jokes from your influencer’s list much less on your timeline are selling jokes? Visibility is very important but let it leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Again, I don’t underestimate the mind of creatives but like the seasons King Solomon speaks about in Ecclesiastes, the clouds cleared and now it is about time we embrace the sun.
My word of advise is; choose your social media managers/influencers wisely. Recently, an online acquaintance shook a table–in his post, he boldly stated “Lately every unemployed person is an Influencer”, this did not go down well with the majority and some were stifled out of “kamooli” to engage him. Nonetheless, if we get back to the drawing table; social media influencers/managers are people task their brain to create content for the online platforms, and maybe the question should be how many people are geared towards creativity and not settling with the wagon? We can not deny that like other offices, this too was infiltrated with many people that may not fully understand the nooks of social media and because of them, the public then carries a stereotype that denies the creatives their deserved recognition.
Lastly, at organisational level, do not settle for cheap, expensive is worth it in the long-run. Use every opportunity to communicate for your benefit; and whoever you choose to do that on your behalf should do you justice.
Always remember, even the smallest choice shall determine how your audience perceives your brand.
Imagine this post full of memes though
Leave me your thoughts in the comment section… I would love to hear them. Thank you!!