To meme or not to meme

To an evolutionary biologist a meme is a behaviour, idea or action that is passed from one person to another within a culture. It’s the evolution of ideas through the spread, replication and adaptation of words. They are infective and viral and compete for your attention.

The internet meme stays pretty true to this and they are a great viral addition to the modern marketing toolkit. Your meme can be a word meme, video meme, photo/image meme, animal advice meme or something dreamt up in a marketing moment of magic. Make it familiar, topical, shareable, succinct and funny and sit back and watch it go viral.

So let’s take a look at memes that have worked , some meme creation platforms and then decide where to best position your meme for maximum effect.

Memes that work

With your brand in mind think carefully before you leap on board the meme train. Memes are fun and can be adapted to fit virtually every brand but may, and do replicate, and turn the tides of public opinion against you. What ideas do you think will resonate with your clients and their demographic? Overt marketing is a big no-no, remember that a meme is fun and interactive and think through the consequences of using culturally insensitive images or words. They could come back to bite you. Bill Cosby posted a picture of himself in 2014 inviting people to meme him and boy did they.


Social media success is within your reach…

Baby Sammy’s fist clench denoting ‘success’ or ‘frustration’ started life as an image taken by his mother and was uploaded to Flickr and Getty Images. Since then it has snowballed and captured the imagination with success memes going viral in their thousands. Virgin Mobile paid an undisclosed sum to licence the image for advertisements and it was even used by the Whitehouse for an immigration campaign. Sammy Griner maybe the most recognised baby on the internet… after North West . This meme also significantly raised money through crowdfunding for Justin Griner (Sammy’s father) when he needed a kidney transplant in 2015.


Poor Shrek will never escape the swamp

There were some great meme campaigns last year including the “Straight Outta … “meme generator which promoted the film “Straight Outta Compton” boosting ticket sales at the box office. Try it yourself here . The great thing about this campaign is the ease with which anyone can participate and share their meme. The public loved it creating hilarious memes, and no animal, politician or cartoon character was safe.

Meme Generators

There are plenty of meme generators to help you in your quest including the following:-

  • imgflip. Has a stock or established images which you can caption however there is also the option to upload your own images.
  • Dubsmash app can be downloaded and will allow users to create well known movie scenes and video lip synch to their favourite songs.
  • Meme Generator was the first online meme generator and will allow you to caption popular characters and animals like ‘grumpy cat’ and will also allow you to upload your own images and meme those or invite others to so.
  • QuickMeme

There are always more meme generators popping up on the internet so keep an eye out and do let me know if you have a favourite app or generator. If you don’t think you can summon up the right sense of humour then have a browse through KnowyourMeme and exercise your inner comedian.

Get your Meme Seen!

Now that you had created your meme and discussed its role in your marketing campaign where are you going to put it?

  • Reddit is the number one place to post your meme on the internet, look for the right subreddit and submit your meme. If it does make it to the front page then you will get a dofollow backlink. It is also a great place to have a look what is trending and in a few weeks you will see the memes trending on more conventional social media sites like Facebook. You could hijack and get on board a trending topic like the impeachment of Brasilian President Dilma Roussef before others or just use it to test out the virality of your created meme. If your meme is popular it will be adapted and go viral quickly.
  • Tumblr . This is a hybrid of social media and a blogging platform. If your content and images are liked then you can benefits from reblogs which do give backlinks. With 10 million users and rising this is the platform not to ignore, especially for great content writers.
  • Your meme can be shared, liked and commented on, driving traffic to your Facebook page and increasing your followers. Whether they are your target market is a question you should have a think about when creating your meme.
  • Supported by appropriate hashtags your meme could be picked up by influential retweeters in your region and further. Just search for the popular hashtag #firstworldproblems and you will see how effectively this hastag has gone memetastic.
  • StumbleUpon .A great place to submit your memes with millions of users it will definitely drive traffic to your website but again be aware they may not all be your target market and have a plan in placeto market additionally or gain subscribers on the landing page so visitors may turn into customers or brand advocates. The added advantage is that backlinks can be produced.
  • No handy backlinks on this site but plenty of users and a perfect fit for meme humour.

Hopefully you are not ready to produce your memes. Just remember your sense of humour.

ISM’s next Social Media Marketing Course is running from 26th to 28th April in Dubai. Please get in touch through [email protected] if you want to learn more .



Well the fireworks went off as planned but the Address Hotel with it’s superb view was probably more watched on media for very different reasons.

A new wave of social reporting has emerged in the UAE last year thanks to the Periscope application and nowhere was it in more evidence than New Year’s in Dubai. On New Year’s Eve a few hours before midnight fire broke out at the Address hotel close to one of the world’s most iconic buildings the Burj Khalifa. Immediately , around 20 periscope reporters started to broadcast the events. An image map at the time showed multiple broadcasts and footage of events was picked up by International News Stations.

That dramatic event aside here is a quick look at Periscope and it’s uptake in the UAE.

Social Media giant Twitter bought the Periscope app in March last Year for a hefty sum and within 10 days of its launch the app had logged 1 million users, within 4 months over 10 million. The Periscope app allows users to live stream video content and the audience can interact by posting comments or tapping on the screen to show their appreciation (love heart). The app can be linked to your twitter account and so when you do a live transmission it will show up in your newsfeed allowing you to potentially gain more followers.

The Middle East is notorious for having avid users of social media so it is no surprise that we love Periscope. So who is broadcasting in the United Arab Emirates? Right now at the time of writing…prime commuter time… we have just a few stray broadcasts from Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah… nothing that is going to blow your mind: a kid showing us where he lives and someone else is showing us the rain (which is a major event here!). If we look at the prolific Periscopers in the UAE the content starts to get a bit more interesting. The Dubai Health Authority ( DHA) streams live from round table discussions answering audience questions, Emirates Live with almost 45,000 followers invites us to tour the country with them and Anika Morjaria is getting her media career off to a good start by regularly streaming from her travels as well as linking her broadcast to her you tube Channel and video blogs. So we are not all just cruising around showing off high performance cars and our surround sound system, Periscope has some real interest not just locally but also internationally.

So what sort of uses can you put Periscope to make it work for your brand? Remember you need to keep it engaging, informative, legal and fun. Just beware though…trolling on this app can reach quite high levels but the users and posters of inappropriate comments will fall foul of both local and international laws. You can block individual users or report them.

What are the current uses of Periscope and what is the application of this to your brand or business? ISM Training explores these questions and more on our game changing Digital Marketing course. Currently, we at ISM have used the App to show you where we train, inviting you to walk around a course and meet the trainer and delegates. Look out for us we will be periscoping our way through 2016!

Every entrepreneur knows that building a business from scratch is pretty similar in Dubai, Pretoria, or New York: it’s all about marketing.

1. Get the branding right

Entrepreneurs know the key to great marketing starts with a memorable name and great brand identity. Whether it takes a day or a month, spend time creating a name and a great back story to your brand. It has to be something your target market will identify with quickly.

2. Use social media wisely

Social media is now a cornerstone to marketing a business, and successful entrepreneurs research thoroughly before stepping into the social media pool. Don’t just look the big social media brands, your niche may have customers in more location based social media. And if you don’t know your Twitter from your Dribble, get yourself on a course and educate yourself.

3. Find a mentor

The best entrepreneurs know that a mentor is a key ingredient to their success. Whether for finances, boardroom tactics, or marketing, they’ll provide insightful advice to keep you on track.

Don’t expect the mentor to do all the work for you. Do your research and find out as much as you can about the market your aiming at, then go to a mentor with very precise questions you can’t find the answer to anywhere else.

4. Design the best website

Shoddy websites are an instant turn off, and good entrepreneurs know not to hire their cousin/mate/friend of a friend. Find a professional web developer who produces excellent websites that look as good on a mobile as they do on a desktop.

5. Great online content

A great looking website is only the beginning. Your site has to have ‘sticky content’. A marketing term for content that is interesting enough for your potential customers to ‘stick’ around.

Only you know what your product/service is capable of, so you have to translate this into an easy-to-use shop, great blog, fun/serious (depending on your audience) videos, tutorials, e-books: create excellent content and make that site work hard for your marketing strategy.

6. Create a mobile strategy

The use of mobile phones has soared, so harness that power and build a mobile strategy to help customers connect easily with your business. Whether it’s making it easy for they to buy your products on their phones, to reach out to them with a neat little game, order support at the touch of a button, or load up your latest fashion line: every mobile strategy is different, so research how you want to use it to market yourself effectively.

7. Be seen


Don’t be shy get your talents out into the open !

Entrepreneurs aren’t shy. They get out there and meet their customers face-to-face. Don’t hang back and let someone else sell your business for you. Get stuck in and be seen at conferences, on the street stall, in the board room, on the radio, in the papers and on TV. When it comes to marketing, entrepreneurs get stuck in.

8. Find the Free (that doesn’t break the bank)

Everyone likes a bit of free thrown into their shopping basket: free delivery over x amount, free three months support, or buy one get one free. Find what you can give for free and use it as a marketing ploy

9. Get the customers involved

Whether it’s a product or a service, the best way to get people interested is to let them experience it directly. Have you developed a new drink? Take it to the people and let them try it: demos at shows, a cart next to a popular shopping area, take into people’s homes and offices. Be imaginative. Have a new type of software to help businesses streamline their systems? Go to conferences and sponsor a coffee stand, provide free workshops, give talks, arrange to go and talk directly to businesses in their offices.