Meme Marketing

How Companies Are Using Memes and Sarcasm to Market to Millennials

By: Schuyler Swanson

In today’s world, technology is king, and the rapid ways in which it has transformed society and life as we know it can be seen everywhere. From self-driving cars to online shopping to electronic toothbrushes, just about every aspect of our lives seems to have been made easier thanks to technology. However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Changes brought on by this new technological age have in some ways made things easier for marketers and in other ways made things much more difficult. While reaching consumers has perhaps never been easier in the history of mankind, getting people’s attention on the other hand, is proving to be much harder. The ease of getting information to the consumer has led to consumer’s getting bombarded with so much information they don’t know what to do with it, let alone are able to hardly process it all. According to a 2017 article on Forbes by Jon Simpson, Americans see an average of anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day. After reading that number, think to yourself, what was the last 10 ads you saw? Most people probably won’t be able to remember, and that is why attention is so valuable for marketers today. Another problem marketers have been experiencing in this new age is marketing to millennials. A generation who grew up with technology and online advertisements, marketers have had to evolve to adapt to this new generation. There is a great infographic on the USC Dornsife website that breaks down a lot of the ways in which millennials differ from previous generations. A couple of stats that stand out are that when compared to Generation X and the Baby Boomers, millennials make up the smallest percentage of radio listeners, spend the least amount of time watching television, and make up the smallest percentage of magazine and newspaper readers. On the flip side, almost 90 percent of millennials spend time on social media and 82 percent of them interact with brands or retailers on social media. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of millennials follow their favorite brands or retailers on social media and another 38 percent discover brands or retailers on social media. If these numbers are any indicator, the key to reaching millennials may very well be through social media, but it can be a tricky path to take. Appealing to and garnering the attention of millennials on social media platforms while not coming off as robotic, out of touch, or ‘trying too hard’ takes careful balance and a solid understanding of millennial culture, millennial humor, and how millennials think. There have been a few big brands recently, most notably fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s and Burger King, who have been able to pull this off on Twitter using memes, trending jokes, and lots of sarcasm with tremendous amounts of success. Below I have a few of my recent favorite tweets from brands that were able to put up some pretty big numbers.

One of the advantages of brands using social media is the ability and ease it gives them to interact with consumers, customers, or fans almost instantly. This allows them to hear more customer complaints, answer more questions, and as we see here, have fun joking with fans. What’s amazing here is a two word response from SunnyD racked up over 78,000 retweets and 346,000 likes, bringing a lot of traffic and looks to the brand for little to no cost while making people laugh at the same time.

Social media can be a crazy place, and sometimes some of the things we see on there literally make absolutely no sense at all. That’s the humor in it though, it doesn’t have to make sense. Sometimes the more random the better, and Burger King fully embraced that with this tweet.

Another example of this is yet another SunnyD tweet seen above. Something else that is becoming more and more common in this sphere is big brands having regular conversations with other big brands. Not only is it comical to see Pop-Tarts and MoonPie having a random conversation with SunnyD, but it makes the brands appear more friendly, down to Earth, and human to the public.

      Perhaps no one has perfected using social media as a way to better reach millennials as Wendy’s has. They have steadily build up a reputation for roasting people, whether it be an ordinary customer or Mr. Peanut. Some of their tweets may appear to be pushing the boundaries of what we would normally consider is acceptable for a big brand to say in public but we are in a new age. Pushing the boundaries and breaking out of that stereotypical corporate mold helps brands stand out and appear rebellious, something that is very attractive to the younger aged millennials.

In conclusion, social media is likely to continue to play an important part in how brands market towards millennials. It is cheap, efficient, and a lot of the times you don’t even have to actually be promoting or advertising a specific product of yours to grab the attention of consumers. It is not always easy though, as one mishap can lead to a PR nightmare, so while it can be lighthearted and fun, marketing on social media still always needs to be taken as seriously as marketing on any other medium would. Additionally, social media, like technology in general, is always rapidly changing and evolving, so in order to keep the consumers attention on this platform, brands have to be in a constant state of change and development to keep up with the platform and target audiences.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/08/25/finding-brand-success-in-the-digital-world/#40b964e9626e

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13 Hashtags That Prove You Are A Millennial Baby #sorryboutit

This generation is a special one. We might have a lot of haters but they will never be able to bring the Generation Y down. We are the stars of YouTube, the world-renouned photographers of Instagram, and the supermodels of Snapchat. So everyone else should follow us on Twitter because we are #kindofabigdeal and #wecantstop. To catch you up, here’s who we are and how we’ve made it this far…we’re talking hashtags.

#sorrynotsorry

Where it all began. This catchy little phrase became the perfect description for when you have maybe crossed a risky boundary but you just don’t feel bad about it. As the White Chicks movie perfectly describes, “You were thinking it! Yeah, but you said it!” This is hashtag boasts the truth with a little bit of spice.

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#fml / #wtf

When you’re cussing but not actually because abbreviations “don’t count”. You know you love it, we all do. Plus, there is nothing more satisfying than being way too dramatic about some semi-rough situation.

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#yolo / #rage / #turnup / #turndownforwhat / #turnt 

Tongue out, Miley Cyrus style. You know what I’m talking about. These hashtags are absolutely necessary when you are living the dream with your friends in that sketchy house party that you found through a roommate’s older brother.

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#winning / #swag

The competition stage. You had a great mid-day victory? You better tell the world. And if you’re feeling good about those sick glasses…show them off, duh. A little bit of swag never hurt anyone. You keep doing you.

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#foodporn

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and d*** right, it’s better than yours. This hashtag is absolutely essential when you’ve just had the best/prettiest/amazeballs meal of your life…literally.

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#getswoll #gains #riseandgrind

Sweet kicks, color coordinated attire, bumping playlist in the headphones, conveniently fashionable headband (optional), sweat beads dripping, adrenaline pumping, heart racing, instagram posted…you know what it is. We out here grinding.

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#hashtag / #nofilter

Alright cool kids. You think you’re better just because you “don’t care” about the obsessive art of hashtagging? And let’s be real for like two seconds, you know you AT LEAST pressed auto-enhance on that gorgeous so-called “no filter” pic…and now there is a trust issue between us. So you better check yourself before you wreck yourself when it comes to walking that no-filter line of yours.

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#mcm / #transformationtuesday / #wcw / #tbt 

These classic hashtags provide the perfect basis for weekly updates. When you want to post but don’t have anything fabulous that you are doing right at the moment, don’t even fret because you can always default back to the OG posts. Long live the traditionals.

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#letmetakeaselfie / #selfie

Can everyone please stop what you are doing immediately and give a huge thank you to the genius creation of the pop hit “Selfie” for bringing this once looked down upon hashtag to a newfound glorification. The Chainsmokers have accomplished what no one has ever dreamed of. This is ultimate success people.

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#someridiculouslylonghashtagthatisjustwaytooobnoxious

Woah there. My eyes just had to re-read that about a thousand times. And I am still not sure that I know what you’re talking about so I gave up and scrolled passed. Please reduce the amount of brain power required to view your post, please and thank you.

#way #too #many #hashtags #no #one #cares

I can’t. I literally cannot. This is too much. Is every single one of those a hundred percent necessary, like really? And even though I am annoyed…I probably read every single one. So you got me, but it’s whatever I don’t even care. Kinda.

#blessed 

You know you love it. Even if you hate it, you love it. Even if you don’t have an opinion toward it, yep, you love it. Don’t even lie. Jump on the blessed train, you won’t regret it…and if so, refer back to yolo.

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#bae

Before anyone else? Are you sure…before your mom? Before your grandma? Before Beyonce? BEFORE YOUR PUG? I’m just not too sure about that…again, trust issues in the air.

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These hashtags mark where we have been and what we have socially conquered, but now we must trend the hashtags of our future. Between our outstanding creativity and our stellar photographic skills, Generation Y will continue making history, one hashtag at a time. It is up to us… like by like, favorite by favorite, RETWEET BY RETWEET to prove to the world the power of our generation. #gobigorgohome