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Insight & Opinion

The DDC Advocacy Blog

Have You Seen This?

Posted on: March 28th, 2013

By: Shannon Manning, Director of Communications Programs

If you don’t already know what a meme is, check out some of the articles linked at the end of this post.  For our purposes, “meme” specifically refers to those images that circulate around Facebook.  You know the ones: Angry Cat, Success Boy, the many, many variants on Churchill’s “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan.  Who hasn’t seen at least one version of the “What they think I do…What I really do” meme?

Think of them as billboards for your Facebook page.  There’s a meme for just about everything you can think of.  Many are snarky.  Some are inspirational or educational.  Some are just, well, strange or terrible.

Memes weren’t born on Facebook and they don’t live solely in social media, but they have become a powerful tool for driving virality on the world’s largest social network.  Love them or hate them, if you’re an advocacy professional trying to garner a social media following, memes are your friend…or at least your frenemy.

Successful memes work because they hit the sweet spot for social media—they are visual, memorable, communicate a lot in a very small package, evoke a strong, often visceral response, and are highly shareable.  They connect with people on multiple levels and provide a common experience—from laughter to anger to inspiration—for people in a medium that is, after all, about social interaction.

We all know that social media has tremendous power, but tapping into that power can be challenging simply because there is so much competition.  That’s another reason you should be using memes if you are running advocacy campaigns on Facebook: they can help you cut through noise and clutter in reaching your target audience.  They force you to distill your message down to its simplest form or its most powerful hook.  They require you to focus on the “elevator pitch” version of your issue that too often gets lost in more prose-driven communication mediums.

From an advocacy perspective, memes are also a valuable engagement tool, a great low-level advocacy action.  They can help motivate people who otherwise simply watch the conversation to do something—share.  It’s a simple gateway action that can lead to other actions if you cultivate your audience correctly.  As a bonus, memes increase the visibility of your issue and help condition the environment in which debate is taking place.

How can you use memes effectively for your advocacy program?  Be funny.  Be factual.  Be edgy.  Marry statistics to images that move people.  Use animation.  Simplify a complicated process or relationship into just a few frames.  Get back to the essentials of your message and shed the extraneous details that can get between you and your audience when you are trying to connect them to your issue.  Most of all, make sure your memes speak to what matters to your audience, because when someone sees a meme and laughs, or thinks, “Yes!,” or is moved—that’s when they click “share.”

Meme Articles:

BlueGlass Meme Marketing
10 Popular Memes Masquerading as Marketing Campaigns
7 Things Marketers Should Know About Memes


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