When memes go viral on the internet, it’s like checking off the “free” space on a marketer’s bingo card. The work has already been done for you, it just needs to be adjusted and refocused to aid value to your brand.
The most recent example of this came from the January 20th inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. While the attention should have been on the historic win, it was actually focused on the democratic senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. In typical Sanders fashion, the man appeared at the very fancy ceremony in a functional and practical outfit that was designed to keep him warm rather than make a fashion statement. Waking up that morning, Sanders had no idea that he would end up becoming a VERY viral moment. Soon after arriving at the inauguration with his homemade mittens and thick coat, pictures of Sanders started circulating online and with a little Photoshop help, a meme was born. Why? Because it was so Sanders and a refreshing view of politicians. Many people online likened to his appearance to that of heading out to run errands, not attending one of the largest events in modern politics.
It’s also important to note that Sanders was ok with what was happening with his likeness- but even if he wasn’t there was no putting that genie back into the bottle. Sanders capitalized on his internet fame, something that he has found himself in a couple times, by adding and consequently selling a sweater with his inauguration likeness on his website. In total the senator raised more than $1.8 million dollars for causes he believed in. As for the teacher that made the mittens? She knitted three more pairs and is currently in the process of auctioning them off to the highest bidder(s). Like Sanders, Jen Ellis (the teacher), will be using the money for good, donating to two charities and keeping the profits of one pair to help pay for her daughter’s college education.
When our Shank Marketing team saw the mitten memes, we knew what needed to be done. We quickly brainstormed ideas and gathered links for our idea with the understanding that it needed to be funny, relevant, and not at all political- because who wants more of that? What we came up with was a play on what our clients hear a lot, guests complaining that their slot machine didn’t produce the results they were looking for. You can see our creation below!
Speaking to the numbers, our post earned 10 times the amount of reach than our regularly scheduled posts receive. Reach for social media is defined as the total number of unique people that saw a particular post. Another key metric to highlight is engagement or the number of times people took an action on the post. Our mittens meme earned 15 times for the average engagement on our Facebook page. Clearly, viral memes are a great asset to marketers and it is important to try and harness their social momentum for branded channels.
Memes (of the appropriate variety) are one of the few wholesome things to be left on the internet. They bring a sense of community and comradery when everyone’s attention is focused on a singular idea. Of course, with any viral moment it is always necessary to examine the content and the context in which it is being shared. If something goes viral for a negative reason, leave it alone and holster your posting fingers.