Standing out for the right reasons on social media is hard. You have to meet your audience where they are and make your message relevant to them. Memes break through the noise. On Salt’s Creating Futures podcast, we recently interviewed Jacob Nomafo and Jonah Blackburn, founders of UK social media marketing agency Lucid Meme. We spoke about what memes are, why they work, and how they can revolutionise your marketing strategy on social media.

Read on for some of our favourite excerpts, which have been edited for conciseness and clarity.

What is a meme, and why should marketers care about them?

Jonah: A meme is a picture with a section of comedic text. It merges an image and text to create a contextual understanding of a situation. Memes are cultural and generational, and each subset of society gets something different from them.

Jacob: In its purest form, a meme is text paired with a culturally relevant image. The symbiosis of the two is where the magic happens. The power is mainly in the image and how it draws upon old memories and things you associate with them. We capitalise on this to turn these feelings into content for our clients.

Are memes successful for marketing because they evoke emotions?

Jonah: For sure. A lot of our work is actually about psychology. It's about understanding whether a piece of content resonates with people, and if it does, what about it stands out? Why is it performing so much better than a different piece of text or another image? There has to be a reason.

Jacob: Memory is ascribed by feeling. The things we remember are the things we feel whether it's sad things or happy things. Luckily, we're in the business of memes. So, it's happy, positive, and smiley… Memes are so effective because people feel something when they see them; they feel good, and then they remember that feeling - and that's extremely powerful. It all comes back to psychology and how humans work and think. It's about bringing that way of thinking to social media: putting people's feelings and emotions at the forefront and making them feel how you want them to feel.

Jonah: We (Lucid Meme) are in a niche of the marketing industry promoting positivity. On social media nowadays, too many people are trying to get likes and follows by posting or sharing controversial stuff that is pretty grey and damaging. We are doing something to brighten peoples' days.

What does the 'social bubble' look like for different generations – and how do you reach them?

Jonah: There is no longer much of a generational gap in social media. For example, our clients, such as Ryanair (a multinational low-cost airline headquartered in Ireland), have many different demographics following them - not just Gen-Z - and most of their followers find their meme-based marketing humorous. My mother and grandmother send me memes; when I was a kid, I had to explain to them what memes were. That's evolved, and as memes have grown in popularity, they have become part of culture.

Jacob: Memes are the language of the internet. So naturally, they're becoming the language of the world.

What's your biggest advice for digital marketers who want to see results on social media?

Jonah: We (Lucid Meme) have just received investment from Gary Vaynerchuk (American businessman, author, speaker, and internet personality); he's a social media guru and marketing thought leader. Our mantra will now be, if it's good enough for Gary Vee, it should be good enough for you. This is the social validation that humans need, taken to the extreme! Seriously, though, companies like Ryanair are successful in achieving cut-through because their social media team aren't afraid to do something a little outside of the box. So, I advise you to convince your boss or organisation that the marketing space is changing, and if you're not keeping up, you'll be left behind.

Jacob: I agree 100%. It comes back to how people think, which can be difficult for older decision-makers to comprehend. You need to make content relevant to the audience and present it in a way that makes the most sense to them. You need to bring it into their world. But this doesn't just apply to external content; when we pitched to Gary Vaynerchuk, we needed to bring Lucid Meme into his world. Our pitch deck had a meme about Gary on each page, and we went through each slide holding a straight face as we watched his reaction. We made our pitch relevant to him; we brought it into his world, so he understood it. I advise marketers seeking senior management's approval to consider what resonates with them. What do they like? What TV show did they talk about the other day? Put a meme about it in front of them so they understand and feel the power of this type of content. Then, they'll understand what it will feel like for your audience or customers.

Listen to the full interview with Jacob and Jonah on the Creating Futures podcast on Spotify or watch the interview on YouTube.

Follow Jacob and Jonah on LinkedIn or keep up to date with all the latest news and content from Lucid Meme on LinkedIn, Instagram, or the agency's website.

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Source: Salt Recruitment, 17 October 2023