The Ultimate Guide to Meme Marketing Mastery

Believe it or not, most people have experienced a masterful meme—sometimes without even knowing it. Social media networks always have relevant memes floating around for your liking and hearting pleasure.

Funny images with their associated captions are an intricate part of online culture and their popularity is on the up-and-up.

But did you know that you can also use buzzwords in memes to create engaging content and market your business or personal brand at once? Uh, ya! Forward-thinking content marketers use buzzwords to drive traffic to their sites and engage their target audience.

Armed with your imagination and our ultimate guide to using meme templates, you can use buzzwords to engage your audience and help achieve your digital marketing goals.

Today, we're getting meme-tastic and no one's mad about it. We'll cover what memes are, meme template tips, how to make your own in PicMonkey, and more.

Let's get into it.

What is a meme?

British evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, defined memes (pronounced "meems") as ideas, behaviors, or styles that spread from person to person across a culture. He based this idea off of genes that are recreated in familial and cultural lineages. Cool, right?

Today, the definition of memes has expanded to a pairing of buzzwords with images, captions, GIFs, and video clips that generally elicit laughs and spread universally on social media.

Know that once a meme is out there, it spreads like wildfire. You might keep the image and change the caption to cater to your brand or message.

Generally, the buzzwords you use will stem from trendy, societally-recognized lingo to highlight cultural references. Memes make light of a universal experience, like something that happened at the American Music Awards, or a moment in a Star Wars movie that must be relived.

The bottom line? Memes are relatable and funny. Of course, comedy is subjective, so what makes memes work for marketing, or at all?

How memes aid marketing

Make your audience laugh with this meme template!

The digital marketing industry is currently worth $616 billion. And, the industry is set to reach $1,005 billion in a mere four years. Um. What?!

Where there's a massive market, there's an urgency to stay relevant. Content marketers must think of strategic ways to reach billions of social media users consistently.

Millennials and Gen Zs alone spend around between 3.8-4.5 hours on social media. That's almost half a work day, every day, spent staring at a screen.

Promoting your brand on social media is not just the cultural way of the world, but it has an immense return on marketing investment (ROMI). If you've done the paid ads, website promos, billboards, and everything under the sun besides social media marketing, you're in the right place.

Benefits of memes as a marketing method

Here's what to know about using memes as a strategic marketing method.

1. They’re highly engaging

Among the population's ever-dwindling attention span, having quick-witted posts is not only all the rage these days, but it's necessary. Society's "entertain me" muscle has been worked overtime and we want you to compete.

Beyond giving your audience a laugh, buzzwords show your audience who you are, your sense of humor, and what you value. It's always commendable when people see businesses working to keep up with the ever-changing times.

Making your content relatable through fads and trends fosters community and connection. Plus, there's so much in it for you. You get to know what your target audience likes better. And you can track your meme's performance through metrics such as shares, likes, and comments.

2. They're low-cost

Using templates from PicMonkey to create your own memes is low-cost, fun, and a great go-to when you're out of design ideas. If you haven't already created a content calendar, be sure to peep this tutorial next: Simplify Your Content with Stunning Social Media Calendars.

And if you do have a content calendar, be sure to include your meme content in places you're running thin.

In addition to creating your own memes, you can also save money by choosing to piggyback on already popular trends that you know are a success amongst various audiences.

Since memes are a newer addition to the marketing world, copyright laws for them can be a gray area. Hold caution when repurposing someone else's meme without crediting them. As a rule of thumb, always aim to be original and repurpose a concept or idea without identically copying it.

Ideas aren't always free if they're not your own. The creator most always maintains reproduction and distribution rights.

The easiest way to know you're not infringing on others' meme rights? Making your own in PicMonkey! Plus, our inspired stock photos are already licensed so that's one less thing to worry about.

For more on meme rights and laws, be sure to reference this article, too.

3. You get instant feedback

A word to the wise: memes have a super short lifespan, maxing out at a week or so. Today it's DiCaprio's face; tomorrow, it's Elon Musk.

Reactions, comments, and shares will let you know how successful your meme lands with your target audience.

How to craft a memorable meme in PicMonkey

Make your audience laugh with this meme template!

In PicMonkey, you might know we like to set things up similar to the board game, Life. In that game, you can choose career or college. Eventually, everyone ends up on the same path to retirement.

Here, we invite you to choose between starting with a blank canvas or using a ready-made meme template. Both will surely get you where you want to go.

Note that we equally love both options, but in this case, starting with a blank canvas might be easier to honor your unique visions. Let's walk through it.

1. Start from scratch with a blank canvas

Click File > Create new > Blank Canvas. You won't see a designated meme-sized canvas because memes come in all shapes and sizes! Instead, you'll want to scroll or search (CTRL or Command + F) for an Instagram post, Facebook post, or whatever else you need.

Once you've found it, simply click to open. If you already have your specs in mind, simply type them into the Create custom toolbar, then click Make it!

2. Start with a meme template

Starting with a meme template doesn't mean you've gotta stick with those ideas. Templates can help you decipher color schemes, text placement, background textures and effects, and the like.

To get there, select File > Create new > Templates. Type "meme" into the search bar or scroll to find the category. Select your favorite and start customizing!

Blank canvas or template, once you're inside the tool, your customization options remain the same. From here:

  1. Add or swap background colors, textures, and effects.

  2. Personalize text and text effects.

  3. Add or swap graphics from the Graphics tab.

  4. Download in PNG or JPG (or PDF for Pros) then upload for all to see!

If you don't want to download to your desktop first, simply click Share to walk through uploading directly to Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and the like.

Know that your designs live happily and healthily (and forever) in our cloud storage, Hub, for you to revisit and revise anytime. And whatever design tab you click on, you'll be greeted with an intuitive walk-through of how to customize each option.

For example, you can adjust Fade, Intensity, Saturation, and so much more to get you the exact look you seek. Simply take a moment to play around, knowing the Undo and Redo arrows live on the bottom toolbar to use at any moment.

Run free, Creators! The meme world's your oyster.

Top 5 best practices for iconic meme-making

Make your audience laugh with this meme template!

However you choose to master your memes, be sure to follow these following tips.

1. Originality is everything

Like telling a joke, your meme can hit or miss depending on its delivery. You don't want to have to explain your meme in the comments section of your Instagram post.

In this case, strive to be original in both concept and design. If one is off, the whole thing tanks. Luckily, meme designs can be as simple as you want, pairing that brilliant caption with an even more brilliant image.

To find that heart-worthy image, you can upload your own from the Photos & Video tab, or type in keywords to find one from our infinite stock photo library.

Now, we chatted earlier about how memes are easily repurposed. So you might be wondering, How, then, do I make it original? Great question.

*Insert your brand here.* Brand colors, brand tone, and brand personality are your best friends here. For more on clarifying each of these concepts, be sure to also check out: Brand Building 101: Your Guide to Branding Your Business for Success.

How can you translate the trending meme to match one that screams your company? How might you become recognizable in a digital sea of sameness?

2. Know your audience

Humor doesn't land well with the wrong company. One of the easiest ways to ensure that your memes land is to research before, during, and after you post. Ask yourself:

  • Who is this meme designed for? 

  • What type of humor works best for them?

  • What elements of design complement this concept? (Graphics, text effects, textures)

  • What fonts can best carry the message?

  • Where should the caption and image be placed for optimal visual hierarchy?

  • If I were the audience, what would I wish to see?

  • What makes my content stand out?

Taking some time to walk yourself (or others) through your concept can solidify your direction. Let each decision help you expound on your design choices everything melds together naturally.

Memes that sound like they're trying too hard get an automatic next from viewers. The good news? Once something's trending, it's easily recognizable, so you don't have to work too hard to get eyeballs on your post.

If someone recognizes a trending photo, it's up to you to make your new and improved caption stick.

Pro Tip: Don't limit yourself to one innovative caption. Often, meme-makers will craft multiple captions to pair with the same image and post them all as an Instagram carousel post. Having multiple captions per image can entertain folks for minutes and improve engagement overall. Why offer one smile when you can offer ten?

3. Avoid offensive memes

The end game for successful memes is going viral. However, though Hollywood thinks all press is good press, you don't want to go viral for the wrong reasons.

To protect your brand's reputation, steer clear from anything that questions appropriateness or could potentially stir up some controversy. We love the tea, but keep it clean out there.

It's better to play it safe than to offend your audience for a fleeting limelight. We promise.

As much as you might love a particular concept, you want to make sure the internet's got your back. To identify what's trending and what's not, you can peruse Instagram or Twitter's hashtags to see what has momentum.

Make it a practice to monitor your channels and track your audience's most-viewed content. Pair that with a simple design and voila! Success.

5. Try, try, and try again

Keep a level head with reasonable expectations. You might not nail it on your first go-round, but like everything in marketing, consistency is key. Sprinkling memes into your content calendar ensures you're visible online, engaged, and in the know.

Go for cohesive designs and develop your brand voice to stay recognizable. Then, soon before long, your audience will be waiting to hear your hot take on the latest meme goss.

Beyond the design, delving into the meme-verse requires that you stay up with societal lingo, jokes, and trends. You can even ask your audience what they want to see from you using an Instagram poll, Story, or Question. The opportunities are endless!

It's your turn, meme-masters! Hop into PicMonkey and give it a go! The internet eagerly awaits your wise and witty designs (and so do we!).

Show the digital world what you're made of and we'll see you on the other side. Good luck!

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Paige Frisone

Paige is a Colorado-based Certified LifeLine® Practitioner, writing coach, and psychosomatic poet. She geeks out about the neuroscience of emotions and the impact of the subconscious mind on waking life. In her free time, she grooves to dancey beats outdoors while befriending local mountains.