Grumpy cat. Success kid. Condescending Willy Wonka. Memes in our social media feeds have been making us laugh for years, but only recently have brands shifted their strategy to get in on the fun. Memes can take on many forms, but are generally described as humorous images, videos, or pieces of text that communicate something about a cultural trend or social idea.

If you’re not doing mematic marketing (yes, there’s actually a term for this), you’re probably spending time and money arranging photo shoots, hiring influencers, editing video, and creating content that will look flawless in your Instagram feed. And while this is all fine and well, your audience gets bored of polish and perfection all the time. They want to consume authentic content they can relate to — content that sounds like them. This is why memes have become a digital phenomenon, and brands are leveraging this opportunity to connect with consumers.

The same way we gravitate toward people who have a sense of humor, memes help brands build relationships with their followers. Do you have an annoying colleague who never stops talking about themselves? Think of them as a brand who only posts salesy, self-promotional content on social media. How about the co-worker who makes you laugh so hard you spit out your coffee? You can’t get enough of that person! Memes have a special way of bringing you closer to your customers.

Here are seven more reasons why you need to incorporate memes into your social media strategy:

 

Memes are budget-friendly.

Production is typically a huge part of content creation, but crafting an effective meme doesn’t call for a costly photo or video shoot. An engaging meme simply requires an understanding of your audience, a little sense of humor, and a design that clearly communicates. It can be as easy as popping text onto a plain background, or placing a witty caption above an image.

Here’s an example from popular blow dry salon, DryBar.

 

 

You can leverage user-generated content (and it’s free!).

I’m not sure if the customer is always right, but they’re always funny. Tap into the witty things your customers say about your brand to create memes that will resonate with others. This is a simple way to spotlight your followers while also building a community.

SoulCycle takes advantage of post-workout tweets to delight their followers.

 

 

Memes demonstrate an understanding of your audience.

The best way to connect with your audience is to show that your brand understands their thoughts and behaviors. Demonstrate this with humor and you’re your customers’ new BFF. Brainstorming, discovering, and writing meme-worthy content is its own form of social listening that will help you keep a pulse on your followers.

No one does this better than Chipotle, who listens to their fanatical, burrito-obsessed customers to inspire new content.

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Dammit Timmy

A post shared by Chi-vote-le (@chipotle) on

 

 

They personify your brand.

When brands open a social media profile, they have a responsibility to engage with their followers and be, well, social. This can’t be done effectively by posting rigid, self-serving content. Memes are the perfect way for brands to express and fine-tune their voice, personality, and authenticity by switching up the conversation.

Purple, a popular sleep products company, shows their brand personality by admitting that they hit the snooze button, too.

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If there aren't 14 alarms, I'm not getting up.

A post shared by Purple (@purple) on

 

They sell without selling.

How many times have you stopped scrolling through Instagram to pause at a hilarious meme? Getting a potential customer’s attention is the first part of making a sale, and memes tend to have more thumb-stopping power than your average social media post.

Take it from author, podcaster, and marketing guru, Scott Stratten. He reformatted one of his videos into a meme which generated 13 million more views on Facebook.

 

 

We ignore ads, but connect with content that will bring a smile to our face or make us cackle at our desk. This is because the content sounds like us. And if it sounds like us, it most likely sounds like our friends, so we’re happy to share it. That’s how you build a following.

Urban Decay brilliantly uses memes to highlight and sell their products without having to post an ad.

 

 

But perhaps the best part about memes is, you’ll have fun making them.

Rather than banging your head against the wall trying to dream up your next big social campaign, let loose a little. Get your teams together for a laid-back brainstorm session where you check out the latest trending topics or headlines. How can your brand get in on the conversation in a fun way? Browse your customers’ hilarious tweets or reviews. Find inspiration from your co-workers and their daily interactions. There are countless creative opportunities right under your nose.

So take off your marketing hat and simply be human. Laugh along the way. Your job will seem easier, and your followers will love you.

READ MORE: A good meme capitalizes on trending topics! Here are 6 reasons to use pop culture in your marketing strategy.

Need help writing your own memes? This starts with an understanding of your audience! Click here to grab a free copy of my empathy map template.