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Brands are now relying on the power of meme and GIFs as there’s more virality, relatability, shareability, so that the message reaches a wider audience.

Memes and GIFs are emerging as one of the most popular ways to reach out to the target audience with content on social media platforms. And what is driving their popularity is the way they're breaking clutter and building connection with users.

While videos are more engaging, they are long and entail huge investment. Experts believe that Memes could become sole strategy on social media as people are looking for snackable content.

“As a story, campaign or some incident acquires popularity on Twitter, a lot of brands grab the opportunity and start making memes around it.  It is not possible to build videos very regularly. Hence, memes and GIFs offer a good alternative,” a content expert said.

Prathyusha Agarwal

“GIFs and memes are about doing something topical and touching the passion points. Everything Zee did on Spiderman, India’s Best Dramebaaz and now on Zee Bollywood has an element of ‘zero second videos’ which are memes and GIFs. Previously, people had verbal face-to-face conversations and a song, or a dialogue, would just fit in right. Since conversations have become more digital and visual, the same has been replaced by memes and GIFs. It not only makes the brand a part of daily conversations, it also builds a connection that instantly happens as you share a meme or GIF,” said Prathyusha Agarwal, CMO, Zeel.

Devendra Deshpande

According to Devendra Deshpande, Content Partnerships and Business Development specialist, Mindshare, to be a part of daily conversations, making a meme that mirrors the brand’s philosophy is very important.

“You can’t be creating long formats or big scale video every day. At the same time, there would be some hero content that you would be working on throughout the year. But there are moments that you can capitalise every day, which matches with your brand philosophy. If there’s Friendship Day and that is relevant to my brand, how can I be a part of that conversation and be relevant? Identifying these moments and quickly turning it around is a challenge and an opportunity that’s where micro-content comes into play,” he said.

Since memes and GIFs are a newer form of content, they come in handy to break the clutter and build a connection.

Khundmir Syed

“The little things and nuances in this form of communication can actually help a brand to connect with their customer on a personal level and get the message out it an easier way. It is to break that barrier because sometimes the communication gets layered, but GIFs and memes help to communicate that in a lighter way,” said Khundmir Syed, Brand Manager, Fresh Menu.

While video content can acquire more engagement, memes and GIFs can help the brand respond quickly with less investment. RVCJ is a content platform known for its memes. They have brands like Big Bazaar, Amazon Prime and Netflix’s Comicstaan on board.

“Brands are now relying on the power of meme as there’s more virality, relatability, shareability, so that the message reaches a wider audience. Videos can be more engaging but they are long as well. More production money is involved in a video. If a video gets 5000 to 10,000 comments and if I take a campaign and make 30 memes around it in one month, which gets 1,000 comments, so 30 memes can get 30,000 comments which require less money and is less time-consuming. Memes are the next option for brands because they can be presented in a shorter period of time to convey the message intended. So brands are moving from long articles to memes,” said Harpreet Singh Bajwa, Co-founder, RVCJ.

Radhika Apte had dominated Netflix’s screen for a while and Twitterati started making memes on her. To combat this negative publicity, Netflix responded with a meme and trolled itself. Brands such as Zomato, Sony Max, Ceat Tyres, and KFC took advantage of this trending topic and latched on it by promoting their versatility. Within 12 hours, Zomato acquired 5,000 likes on its meme.

Brands such as Durex and Zomato use memes around every important event on the calendar. As people spend more time outside home and are consuming content on-the-go, memes and GIFs hold the potential of becoming the sole content used by brands on social media.

Although memes and GIFs are the shortest form of content and sound simpler to do than others, not every brand has a nose that only senses the right trend to latch on.

“Sometimes people want to do something topical, and they take something that is unrelated and make it a meme. It might turn out to be a great meme, but it might not be great for the brand and the campaign. It is the same process that one would have gone through with a creative agency in the erstwhile world, saying there is a film that might be a great looking visual, but whether it fits the brief or not, remains a question. The problem is much bigger here because it is easy to get excited and think something is cool. Things that one must keep in mind are – what is the insight that you have about the viewer/consumer, what is it about the brand that lends to this short form of communication, and then tying it back to the brand,” said Agarwal.

Sarthak Seth

“It is true that GIFs and memes are easy ways to express an emotion, consume and share. However, creating such content pieces involves a lot more attention to detail. While this is easy stackable content, it can also get attention for the wrong reasons, which might not be good for the brand. Hence content that is humour-based or involves sarcasm needs to be critically evaluated. Also, identifying the right time/situation to share such content has to be drawn carefully,” said Sarthak Seth, CMO, Panasonic India.

The common perception for memes is that it is consumed only by millennials. So, can brands that target others use memes?

“Mostly content like memes attract young adults or millennials. If a brand’s audience demographic base doesn’t include them, it might not be the right approach to go about,” said Seth.

Parveen Singhal

“80% of the audience on social media is millennials and they are more into pop culture, so they are consuming content that is funny and entertaining. Thus, meme culture is growing day-by-day and brands are trying a lot, they are also looking for something funny to connect and easily doable,” says Parveen Singhal, CCO and Co-founder, WittyFeed.

However, Singh differs. According to him, meme marketing can be used by any brand.

“Every brand uses meme marketing now. It is not just to cater to a millennial. When we make a meme, we ensure that brand’s message is also reaching out to the desired TG. However, brands in India are little reserved, but one year down the line, they might be more open to humour and memes will then make its way,” said Singh.

While meme marketing is in its nascent stage now, once more brands embrace humour to tackle with problems and market their brand; this new way will definitely open its big wings.