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Good marketing campaigns tend to favor strong emotions, like a sense of nostalgia, justice, fear, and of course laughter. When influenced by emotions, people think less about the consequences of their actions. Even the courts take strong emotional distress as an excuse for reckless behavior. Therefore, marketers do their best to evoke the emotions, so that the users are triggered into a shopping spree.
However, if you are planning to leverage memes, jokes, emojis, emoticons — all kinds of stuff like that, you have to make sure you understand the background, context, and your ultimate goal. Humor is a highly contextual topic, filled with hints and cues. Which is why you don’t want to end up promoting a COVID-19 vaccine, using “Harold Hide the Pain” meme:
Laughing and its purposes
George Saunders once wrote: “Humor is what happens when we’re told the truth quicker and more directly than we’re used to”. Rapid-truthing causes a mental breakdown, forcing us to defend ourselves with laughter.
Laughter helps people cope with stressful situations better. Furthermore, people laugh more often when they feel safe and in charge. Remember when most of the employees laugh at a joke of the boss? Well, laughter helps to form the bonds and maintain those social connections the whole society is built upon. Finally, laughter eases the tension, should you have one in your surrounding.
Doesn’t matter if you are a publisher, affiliate, marketing expert or agency, humor is an excellent tool to form a bond with your clients. The problem is, you probably know these awkward situations when people (especially when it happens online) try hard to cover uncertainty, offense, or anger with unnatural and excessive humor. It’s like covering up your meal with too much ketchup, yummy?
Memes, GIFs, and emojis communicate ideas
Whenever you make a piece of content and try to squeeze in a meme, emoji, or smile, you have to clearly understand one thing — what for? See, communication is not only about the language you use. Furthermore, any language distorts the ideas one expresses. In a nutshell, language cannot encompass everything in your mind, which is worsened by the fact that people perceive information in a biased way.
Communication goals can be accomplished even silently, via pictures, smiles, music, or dancing. More often than not, though, it’s better to synergize language with non-verbal methods to unleash the full potential of your message. But you ought to know exactly what you are trying to say, otherwise the aforementioned “Harold Hide the Pain (from Vaccinating)” meme emerges.
Originally, the term meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene” (1976) to illustrate human behavior and cultural evolution. Memes have the potential of genes to replicate themselves. Usually, they are some viral pieces of images with some humorous and brief text in it.
Memes can be useful in a myriad of ways:
- To simplify the process of making creatives: take the picture, add another caption, enjoy the result
- To increase brand awareness: more memes = more chances to make a hit and go viral; if that happens, the word-of-a-mouth will do the rest
- To earn a segment of die-hard supporters: mocking current news agenda is an easy trick to attract like-minders
However, you want not just to use a meme for the sake of it. Your ultimate goal is to connect your brand with the client. You can contextualize the already created memes (like with Morpheus below), launch an original meme in tandem with original content yourself, or resurrect the already created ones. If the potential meme does not serve your goals well, then try other ways to convey your message.
Emojis pros & cons
Memes are voluminous by definition. Emojis, on the other hand, can fit in any text you make. Don’t mistake emojis [😉] for emoticons [ 😉 ]. While both emojis and emoticons are aimed at saying a lot with just a few symbols, people tend to (ab)use them as intensifiers. Intensifiers (very, so much, specially) rarely bring anything important to the table, while increasing the precious space. However, when used properly, they can be life-savers:
- Promoting anything on white-hat platforms 🍆
- Complementing some talents of the users 💃
- Saving the words 😭😔💔
- Adding extra meaning: *Username* is 300 meters away from you looking for some company 😉
- Getting creative: 𐐘💥╾━╤デ╦︻ඞා
Be careful though with emojis. Some of them are not limited to just a single meaning, e.g., 😤, 🍑, or 💊. Mass culture stuff like emojis, GIFs, or memes are all about smoke and mirrors. What appears innocent can cause heavy damage to one’s reputation. Get to know this stuff in-depth before ever using it.
GIF, memes, and emojis applicability
GIF-pictures are similar to memes, but with the added short animation put on a loop. A meme is an idea that can spread. Therefore, all the GIF-images are memes, but not all memes are GIFs.
Basically, they serve the same purpose as memes and emojis — it’s just a different format. All these cultural artifacts are not restricted to some specific content. You can use them for:
- Landing pages
- Social media posts
- Any form of communication
Know your meme, to save yourself from big troubles. A wrong accidental reference can kill the work of a marketing think-tank. Memes, emojis, GIFs are great at conveying many things without speaking. However, don’t think they are your silver bullet.
Language remains the main communication tool, all the books in the past were written with letters only. Overusing the memes can make you look amateurish and illiterate. Treat the memes like a sauce that can spice things up or spoil everything. Don’t use memes if they don’t serve your purposes. And of course, always keep in mind what you are trying to communicate.