‘Memejacking’ — Brands Piggyback on Web Content Gone Viral

‘Memejacking’ — Brands Piggyback on Web Content Gone Viral

Jul 10, 2012

Memes (Gk. mīmeîsthai  – to imitate, copy):

  • cultural items transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
  • cultural symbols and social ideas that spread virally.
  • in the same way that a flu bug travels from person to person, memes travel through social media and email. 
  • often things of minor consequence — jokes, urban legends, human and animal oddities. 
  • in some cases, art and music curiosities, and even philosophical ideas worth repeating.  

Modern memes commonly take the form of photos and videos/animations/songs.

Memes are propagating across the Web at the speed of flight, and clever marketers are jumping on the opportunity to use these viral pieces of content to their advantage.  Just about everyone knows some of the most popular visual memes:

  • Ridiculously Photogenic Guy (his face has been plastered over the Mona Lisa and Jesus).
  • Pepper-Spray Cop (UC Davis campus cop Lt. John Pike nonchalantly pepper-sprays Mr. Rogers, the Founding Fathers, etc.).
  • Vancouver Riot Kiss (couple smooching on the street in the middle of a riot get photoshopped into scenes of extreme danger or inappropriateness, or in the background of other famous kissing scenes).
  • The New Old Spice Guy (preposterous commercials shared across cyberspace).

In “Memejacking: The Complete Guide to Creating Memes for Marketing,”  Pamela Vaughan shows Hubspot blog readers how “memejacking” can take some of the guesswork out of online marketing by allowing brands to piggyback on memes that have gone viral, and can be a quick and easy way to create content.

Why try it?

1) They’re Already Viral

A concept doesn’t exactly get classified as a meme if it’s not fun, engaging, and wildly popular. That’s why memes are so great for marketing. Rather than creating something from scratch and crossing your fingers that it “goes viral,” you’re leveraging an idea that is already successful.

2) They Make Great Social Media Fodder

You’re aware of all the noise about visual content lately, right?   Visual content is practically made for social media sharing, and because memes are usually visually oriented, they make great fodder for your social media accounts such as Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

3) They Attract Traffic, Likes and Links

Because memes are so share-worthy, they’re fantastic for generating traffic and visibility to your social media accounts. Memes attract +1s, likes, repins, comments and shares like crazy, making it more likely that your social content will gain traction in social media and spread.

4) They’re Quick and Easy to Create

For inbound marketers, content creation is a daily job.  Because so much of your marketing campaigns depend on content (and fresh content, at that), having some easy-to-create types of content at your disposal is a marketer’s dream come true. Memes offer just that. They’re easy — and they usually take little time — to create.

How to Successfully Jack a Meme

Because memes are often very simple, they’re usually very quick and easy to create. Some basic knowledge of a photo editing tool like Photoshop (or even Microsoft Paint can sometimes do the trick) can come in handy when hijacking brand new memes, but you’ll find that there are tons of meme generators out there like Meme Generator and quickmeme that make it extremely simple to hijack popular memes.

Go for it.