April 17, 2013

Should My Brand Use Memes?


According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of an Internet meme is “A word, phrase, expression, iconic imagery or recognizable reference popularized amongst online communities such as on forums or in online games.” You’ve mostly like seen these Internet creations floating around in places like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and you might have wondered if you could use them to promote your brand or campaign. The short answer is, “Yes!”

Memes are a great way to connect to your audience — especially Millennials — through the use of humor.   They can go viral if they are really funny, as users deploy them within their social networks. And if something goes viral, that means you’re generating more awareness of your brand.

However, there are some things you should consider before using memes. You should first decide if they are appropriate for your brand, then think about the merits of creating your own versus using existing memes.

Reasons Your Brand Should Use Memes:

  • Memes are easy to share
  • Memes humanize your brand, adding ingenuity and humor
  • Memes jump to attention and get noticed

Tips for Using Memes to Promote Your Brand

1. Opt to use newer popular memes. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for new memes that are popping up, since newer ones automatically garner attention. Unless you use an older meme extremely well, users will be quick to point out that a it has already run its course.

2. Tailor the meme to your brand or campaign. When you find that perfect, already-existing meme, don’t be afraid to tailor it to fit your to your needs. You can use photo editing software like Photoshop or sites like MemeGenerator.net to construct your own message.

3. Don’t blatantly promote your brand. The goal of creating a meme is to see it spread virally. What can hinder that is being too obvious with company promotion. So if you’re going to put a company’s name on it, make sure that it is small type across the bottom of the image in the style of a photo credit. The same goes for logos. Put a small icon in one of the lower corners. And don’t put it in a place where it can be easily cropped out. If people can crop it, they will.

4. Keep it recognizable. Memes are depictions of popular culture. For an example, the “McKayla is not impressed” meme hit the Internet with full force the day after McKayla Maroney made her famous stink-face at the Olympics. With this iconic moment captured and the world watching the Olympics, this meme spread fast with McKayla being unimpressed with many things.

5. Keep it relevant to your audience. If your audience can’t relate to a meme, considering it dead upon arrival. Reflect on the information your audience typically consumes and use its interests and problems to find common ground for your humor. Also, memes sometimes walk a fine line between funny and offensive. Be cautious.

A Word of Caution

Memes can be freely copied and altered. This means that your attempt at a viral campaign to gain brand awareness can turn against you quickly. If your company makes a misstep or has unpopular practices, its memes can be repurposed, causing you to lose control of your message. So while memes are fun and can cement a brand in the public consciousness, they can also turn into a nightmare for any company’s social media manager.

Suprised baby

Carefully consider using memes to avoid a social media nightmare

However, if used correctly, memes can be a really fun way to gain awareness. Just make sure the memes you select are humorous, targeted and brand appropriate. For more information on viral content, read our previous blog post Organic vs. Viral vs. Paid Reach for B2B Facebook Pages.

January 28, 2013

Tip: People like seeing people on Facebook (shocking!)

The VOXUS crew bites the Apple.

Looking for a way to boost engagement on your company Facebook page? Finding new content may be a challenge, depending on how many products, customers and partners you have. You could try posting a video of a mama cat hugging her kitten (it went viral in 2012), but perhaps a more relevant and fun idea is to introduce your employees. By acknowledging the people behind your success, you actually make your company — and your product — more relevant.

VOXUS recently had a company field trip to our local Apple store and the resulting photo popped up on numerous employee Facebook pages.  It generated more comments than this post will — primarily because it’s fun and it’s relatable.

So here are a couple ideas for involving your employees on your Facebook page:

1) Celebrate accomplishments.  If you designate an employee of the month, post his or her photo.  Did you win an award?  Ditto.

2) Take a photo at the holiday party or summer barbecue.  Don’t use something in questionable taste, and when in doubt, ask the employee’s permission to post the image.

3) Randomly conduct shout-outs to employees.  You don’t really need an excuse to highlight any employee.  Maybe pose a fun question such as “What’s your favorite lunch spot?,” add a photo and you’ve got a nifty new piece of Facebook content.

January 7, 2013

Revisiting @BronxZoosCobra: still hamming it up

In 2011, a cobra at the Bronx Zoo escaped. Before the media could whip New Yorkers into a frenzy of fear, a still-unnamed writer grabbed the profile @BronxZoosCobra and took to Twitter to chronicle the supposed adventures of the snake on the lam. Within just a few days, the profile had gone viral and, more importantly, area citizens were caring more about the mythical travels of @BronxZoosCobra than what might have actually happened to the real snake…and pretty much forgot their fears that jungle animals were cruising their neighborhoods.

Humor played a major role in @BronxZoosCobra’s success.  A few of its early posts:

March 28: “Rockefeller Plaza is amaz…wait…OMG! Tina Fey totally just walked by me!  HUUUUUGE FAN! #snakeonthetown”

March 30: “Getting on the ferry to Ellis Island. Let’s hope this goes better than that time on the plane. #snakeonthetown”

March 31: “There’s a Facebook page Bronx Zoo’s Cobra to Host SNL. Apparently it worked for Betty White.”

It was a completely successful use of social media.  Yet we’re still not sure if the marketing or ad folks for the Bronx Zoo were behind the idea. Seems like someone would have wanted to write a white paper about his or her highly-visible campaign (heck, WE even wrote a white paper on it, you can access it here), or nominate it for an award, or at least take credit for being brilliant.   Because even though the snake was captured — a loosely used term given the fact that the snake never left the reptile enclosure — @BronxZoosCobra continues to tweet today about anything relevant…and is followed by 200,000 people:

On the demise of Twinkies: “You shouldn’t be eating Twinkies anyway. They have only 2% of your recommended daily amount of rodent. #nutritiontips”

On Hurricane Sandy preparations: “All stocked up on canned mice and batteries for my heated rock. #sandy.”

On political gaffes: “Hey @MittRomney, forget Big Bird. Cut funding to the Bronx Zoo, so they’ll have to release all the animals. #freedom”

Humor isn’t easy to pull off, particularly in 140 characters or less.  But if you’ve got the writing chops to do it, @BronxZoosCobra proves you can quickly build an audience and sustain it, even if the original purpose, or in this case, event, is resolved.


October 5, 2011

QR Code + Rooftop= Space-grade Exposure

QR codes are popping up everywhere these days — they’re on product packaging, in print ads and even on the sides of buses. Consumers are scanning them too; More than 14 million American mobile phone users scanned QR codes in June 2011 to connect to Websites, see videos, grab digital coupons and more. Appearing that marketers are really on to something great with these tags…one company has to go and blow it up. Literally…

Courtesy of Mashable

Marketing company Phillips and Company is helping businesses generate and attach super-sized QR codes to their rooftops. The main goal right now being that these QR codes will pop up FOR FREE  in navigation apps like Google Earth and Google Maps. Pretty cool way to reach your customers, huh?

Check out more about Phillips’ Blue Marble and how it creates “space-accessible billboards” here.

June 13, 2011

Round of Applause for Snapfish

I recently ordered a dozen thank you cards from Snapfish. On May 30 to be exact. Just this weekend, I noticed I had not received them yet. So, first thing this morning, I sent an email to their customer service team for an update. Within a couple hours, I received a most delightful response. In a nutshell, Snapfish said “We sent it out June 1, but realize you never got it…and we’re not happy about that…confirm your shipping address with us quickly and we’ll send you the same order with 2-day shipping…with no cost to you.”

Snapfish took me from unhappy to happy by following some basic customer service principles that I think a lot of today’s hottest companies (Ahem, Beyond The Rack!) seem to overlook…

BE PROMPT – When a customer contacts you, contact them back soon. Waiting more than a day can really increase their frustration.

ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM – Companies need to acknowledge an error has occurred. No need to dwell. Just say it and move forward.

FIX IT FAST – Your customers want to know how you’re going to fix the situation and when. Be clear about the next steps and follow through.

If that wasn’t enough, Snapfish also sent me a survey. This shows me that not only are they dedicated to fixing known issues, but they care to hear other feedback about how they can do their job better.

Kudos, Snapfish. I’m impressed.

May 13, 2011

Fancy a Personal Assistant?

I read a great Q&A on ReadWriteWeb today. It was with Ted Roden, founder of a startup named Fancy Hands. His story is great for two reasons; his raw ambition to succeed is palpable, and, I always admire someone who doesn’t just want it all, but wants to do it all really well.

Ted admits he was scratching his own itch when he created Fancy Hands. A husband, father of two and author, he had trouble getting all the little things done. Not satisfied with that outcome, a company was born.

Fancy Hands does just about anything a personal assistant would do. In fact, humans — not computers — are on the other end that make sure the clients’ needs are met. You can get advice on your fantasy football league, arrange for car service and more. Unlimited help of this kind will cost you just $55 a month.

Ted’s road to creating Fancy Hands breaks from conventional startup-dom too. He is a single founder and simply not afraid of carrying the burden alone. He even thinks there’s an advantage to this model. What a great entrepreneur story…

March 29, 2011

Missing a snake? No worries…he’s real tweet

Last week, the Bronx Zoo in New York announced that it had shut down the World of Reptiles after an Egyptian cobra escaped its enclosure.  As of today, the critter is still on the loose…yet thousands of people — 35, 148 and counting — know exactly where it is in the Big Apple.  It didn’t take long before @BronxZoosCobra showed up on Twitter, complete with an email address, and he has been regularly posting his commentaries on New York, its landmarks, food, and even Charlie Sheen.  His profile statement: “I’m not at the Bronx Zoo. I’m an Egyptian cobra out on the town.”

It’s obvious that the Bronx Zoo is not behind the Twitter account.  It’s too funny and raw.  Yet wouldn’t it have been great if the organization had been forward thinking enough to have done this?  Whoever @BronxZoosCobra is, he knows social media and the power of humor.  Had the organization tapped this idea, it could have not only diffused some of the concern about the missing cobra (the zoo is confident the snake is contained in a non-public area)…it could have promoted practically any landmark in the area.  Here are a couple of the recent posts:

- Rise & Slither. #snakeonthetown

- Dear @CharlieSheen, know what’s better than tiger’s blood? Cobra venom. #winning #snakeonthetown Also I’m 20 inches long. Just sayin’.

- Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious!

- Donald Trump is thinking about running for president?! Don’t worry, I’ll handle this. Where is Trump Tower exactly?

A tip of our hat to @BronxZoosCobra.  Slither on, dude.

March 24, 2011

Nestle’s Surreal Cereal Experience

Forget about 3D, augmented reality is where it’s at. Mashable reported today that Nestle is rolling out a global augmented reality promotion for the film Rio. In 53 countries, kids and adults who eat kids’ cereals (you know who you are…) will get the chance to cut out a hand card from their cereal box to experience augmented reality at the breakfast table. All you need is a Web cam and Internet connection to make it work.

Check out the below video to see how it works. This is definitely one of those things you need to see to understand fully.

March 14, 2011

St. Paddy’s Day? There’s an app for that!

If you’re feeling like you need to shake your shamrocks, chances are it’s time for the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities. There might be gray skies in Seattle this week, but come March 17, there will be plenty of green to be seen. Technology lovers everywhere will be especially joyful this year, because St. Paddy’s Day is also being commemorated by mobile application developers, who have created everything from recipe finders to free wallpaper.

If you’ve got an Android OS phone, head on over to the Android Market for your free St. Patrick’s Live Wallpaper.  Now, every day can be St. Patrick’s Day.  But if you’re wanting to wait until March 17 to celebrate, you’ll need the Shamrock Countdown clock.  Don’t get what all of the hoopla is about?  Watch the full-length documentary, St. Patrick Apostle of Ireland, on your phone for just $9.95.

VOXUS coworkers will undoubtedly be downloading the free St. Patrick’s Day Chug for their iPhones, and so will you.  Tilt the iPhone back and forth to see how much you can swill in a single sip.  A similar app (except it involves real Guinness) is Lucktricity – St. Patrick’s Day.  And for you Angry Birds fans, the game has been updated with green pigs and a pot of gold in the St. Patrick’s Day edition.

After your hard day of work at the pub, download the Irish lullabye Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral and go to bed, safe in the knowledge that there will be even more apps to choose from in 2012.  Erin Go Bragh.



February 18, 2011

Can’t Handle the [DSP] Truth? Laugh Instead!

If you follow the advertising demand side platform (DSP) space, then you know they’re taking over the world by bringing ROI-driven display to businesses of all sizes and making sure online shoppers get the info, deals, and steals they crave. Check out the following YouTube video from “LMcDuff08″ for a LOL look at where we’re at and where we’re headed. Enjoy!