To Meme or Not to Meme, That is the Question

This morning I watched the millionth version of the Harlem Shake (this time done by a group of passengers on a Frontier Airlines flight…something that has the FAA up in arms) and I got to thinking about memes and our participation as an industry in them. If you’re not familiar with the term “meme,” at least as it applies to the internet, it essentially means “A concept (usually an image or video) spread from one person to another via the internet.” (Thank you Wikipedia.)

Over the years, I’ve seen some companies in our industry do a great job participating in memes, and participation usually makes the company feel youthful, hip and in-touch. For example this one from Southwestern Advantage:

Can’t see this? Click here: (Thanks for sharing with me Trey!)

Or how about these?

To Meme or Not to Meme from

Shared by Scentsy on their Facebook Page.


Shared by Creative Memories leading up to Showcase, their National Conference.

Or this one:


(h/t Justin Cofield)

When well-timed and part of the larger conversation, memes can be a fun way for direct sales companies to have their brand passed around in a light-hearted manner. They can also just be a fun thing to engage distributors, such as this Harlem Shake regional face-off from Vector Marketing:

So if you’re a direct selling company’s social media manager, you may be saying to yourself, “Well, gosh! Let’s go make a meme right now.”

But wait.

If you want to pull off a meme effectively, there are some things to keep in mind.

  • Timing: A meme is very much an “of the moment” kind of thing. If the things you put together and post typically need to go through 3 levels of review, chances are the craze will be over before you finally post (and then you’ll look lame.) Social media departments that effectively post memes must be nimble, and able to create and post content quickly.
  • Humor: Typically memes make you smile, and that has to work with your brand image. If your brand image is more serious, a meme may not work for you. And if you’re not used to posting funny things, make sure you get an outside perspective to make sure what you’re posting is funny, and consider whether or not the meme will be well-received by your field.
  • Emotion: Memes are relatable, and typically cause a strong emotional reaction, which is why people share them. They also help people to feel like they’re “in the know” by understanding that this is part of something larger than what they’re looking at, and it helps them to feel part of the community. Be sure that any meme your company decides to be a part of is something that will resonate with your salesforce, so that they want to share.
  • Sharing: Wherever you decide to put your meme, be sure it’s easy to share. What makes memes so much fun is that they can be spread around the internet easily. Make sure that wherever your contribution to the meme appears, there’s a “Share” button right below it. On Facebook or Pinterest, that button may appear automatically. But if you’re sharing on your website or blog, be sure that social sharing buttons are included.

so you made a meme willy wonka

So if you decide that a meme is right for your company, the next step is to decide which one to use. Know Your Meme is a good site to check out. According to the site, “Know Your Meme is a website dedicated to documenting Internet phenomena: viral videos, image macros, catchphrases, web celebs and more.” A review of this site will help you realize there’s a world of memes beyond what you typically see on Facebook. It’s a place you can waste hours! 🙂

For a direct selling company, however, you most likely want to stick with memes your salesforce will be familiar with. And this means spending time on Pinterest and Facebook, seeing what memes are commonly shared there. The meme examples I shared above are all memes that were shared often when they were popular on these social networks.

When you’re ready to create a meme, the internet has your back there, too. There are sites that help you create memes in seconds!

Now, don’t go trying to make your own Harlem Shake video (please!) That ship has sailed. But stay on top of the trends by observing what is being shared by people in your news feed. You may just find something fun to share on your company’s social media presence.

Does your company use memes? How do you decide which ones to use? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

p.s. The Direct Selling Education Foundation is having a really fun contest this week in honor of National Consumer Protection Week. You can win an Initials, Inc. bag FULL of products from direct selling companies like The Pampered Chef, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, Beachbody, Arbonne, JAFRA, and a whole bunch more. A bag is being given away each day, so be sure you enter each day to win! They’ll post each day where you can enter on their Facebook Page:

One Response to To Meme or Not to Meme, That is the Question
  1. Justin
    March 4, 2013 | 1:20 pm

    Thanks for the shout outs!! These were a lot of fun to create, and our field had a blast doing them. Our COO and CEO were caught doing a Harlem Shake video because they wanted to get in on the action. I love jumping on these waves when they come along; it’s one of my most favorite parts of the job.

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