The Marketing Power of Memes in Sports

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Memes are hard to ignore online, which is why you shouldn’t miss out on including them in your social media sports marketing mix.

What is a meme, you wonder? A “meme”,” rhyming with “theme,” is a cultural symbol or social idea that is compelling and shared. It often includes wit and illustration that references current events and pop culture (hence the image above).

And, more and more brands are benefiting from using them to convey their marketing messages in ways that find common ground with their target markets.

Now, let’s talk about what makes memes such a great tool for sports brands, along with tips for giving memes their viral appeal.

Why Memes are Good for Your Campaign 

Image-Based

Besides the fact that memes are completely free to create and disperse, they’re often image-based, which means that they appeal to today’s online users who have decreasing attention spans, making images versus text more favorable. Memes are a great way to combine the visuals users prefer to consume with a short message they can understand quickly and relay easily.

Shareable

Now that social media is second nature, we are accustomed to sharing everything in a matter of seconds, especially from our mobile devices. Memes are made for this type of sharing. Posting a photo from a recent game with a caption poking fun at a recent blunder (that is also in the realm of your brand message), for example, is content likely to be worthy of Facebook sharing and Twitter re-tweeting — spreading brand awareness.

Creates Community

The type of users who share your meme definitely enjoy the entertainment of the message behind it, but more importantly, they are putting their seal of approval on your brand’s message when they share. You can assume that the people who share your memes are inclined to be a part of the same group and therefore can be corralled into your online community — growing your social media following and loyalty.

What Makes a Meme Viral

Relevance is Relative

Not all memes have to directly and obviously connect to your brand. Now and again, it freshens up the space and catches your community’s attention to share something that aligns with the interests of your community members in addition to the topic of your brand. This gives you more wiggle room to incorporate popular memes into your marketing mix, drawing in a wider and more diverse audience.

Ownership is Unimportant

No one specifically owns a meme. Even if you are responsible for creating one, like the many memes spurred from the Dos Equis commercial, the quality that actually makes the meme a meme is its adaptability across groups, time and situations. This also means that using another brand’s meme isn’t off-limits. Memes allow you to create something new, showing off the brand’s versatility, creativity, and understanding of the latest media trends and landscape.

Tie it to Social Channels

Think of memes as an extension of social media interaction. Though they don’t always need to relate directly to a brand or a company’s mission, they should connect users to your social media strategy. For example, if Twitter is your main platform for a current marketing promotion, include memes that support the campaign and that tout a hashtag being used to direct the users back to the main community. This will attract them to your main flow of content updates, and keep them as a long term member.

That’s the meme rundown for you sports marketers looking to add a new move to your playbook. Just remember that before you get started, it’s okay to curate content as long as you creatively make it your own take and tie it back to your larger, thriving social media communities.