meme_kermitAs a small business owner, you probably have a limited marketing budget, and you not only need to stretch every dollar but also to squeeze every bit of value out of it that you can. Your dream campaign is likely one that resonates perfectly with your customer base, goes viral, gets you large numbers of likes and shares, and results in spectacular ROI for customer acquisition and sales. While it is perfectly possible that you’ll hit on such a killer idea, it is something of a long shot—especially since you’re a small business owner, not a professional marketer, videographer, graphic designer, or social media expert.

A perfect example is the odds of creating a YouTube video that goes viral. According to the YouTube Odds Explainer Video, you are more likely to get shot than to get 10,000 views for your video, more likely to get injured by a toilet than to get 100,000 views, and are more likely to die from falling out of bed than you are to get 1 million or more views. (BTW, this video had just over 3,200 views, which perhaps proves its point.)

However, there is a way to increase the odds of creating strongly resonating, if not necessarily viral, marketing for your small business— Memejacking.

The term “Meme” (from the Greek mīmēma meaning “imitated thing”), was originally coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 to explain a connection between ideas and genes which explains why the same general themes appear in disparate cultures throughout history, and explains changes in those themes in terms of evolution.

A mutation of Dawkins’ original Meme is the “Internet Meme” which describes a video, image, catchphrase, concept, word, or hashtag that is spread virally via the Internet. Dawkins characterized this mutation as one deliberately altered by human creativity, and called Internet memes a “hijacking of the original idea” as opposed to the mechanism of evolution via replication of random change he ascribed to the “original” memes.

Memejacking is the practice of using an already viral meme as part of your own marketing efforts. This strategy not only enables you to create a message that you already know will interest and resonate with a large audience, but it also enables you to take advantage of popular searches and search phrases used on search engines and social media sites.

Classic examples of Memejacking include parodies of the Got Milk? campaign originated in 1993, which are documented on the “Milking ‘got milk?'” website, and the Mac vs. PC ads starting in 2006, which spawned numerous parodies, including an incredibly successful Memejacking by Novell for Linux. For more examples, check out the Know Your Meme website. It chronicles past and present Memes, along with Memejacking examples related to them.

Of course, to successfully Memejack you need to pick a meme that both relates in some way to your business, and that will also resonate with your customer base. Meme-jacking 101: Everything your brand needs to know from PR Daily provides useful suggestions for getting started. The Marketing with Memes infographic provides a brief history of memes, along with some popular examples and tips for creating your own Memejacking campaigns.

You can also use a meme generator to put captions on popular meme images, and then post them on your website, your Facebook page, and to any other social media. For example, the image in this post was created using Meme Generator.

Give it a try yourself, go to the Meme Generator site, and pick a popular meme image to caption and jack. Or, use the other techniques outlined here to create your own Memejacking campaign. We’d love to see what you come up with, and would welcome links to your creations in the comments.

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Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I'm the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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