Your Guide to Marketing with Instagram Memes

Instagram memes are an artform.

While it’s easy to assume that memes are meant for consumers, rather than brands, the truth is that marketing in its purest form is all about storytelling. Memes are a way of telling micro-stories that help you to relate to your target audience and demonstrate your company’s personality.

If you’ve been searching for a way to spruce up your social media marketing strategy, and you think that memes might be the way to go, you’ve come to the right place.

We’re going to show you what Instagram memes are, why they work, and how you can use them to gain more authentic followers.

What Are Instagram Memes?

Memes are a broad cultural idea or concept.

Most modern memes are ideal for Instagram because they combine a snapshot picture with a small caption of text. Sound familiar? That’s exactly how you share your Instagram content every day.

Of course, not every IG snap is a meme. Memes are designed to be funny because they’re highly relatable and easy to understand. Most of the time, memes express social, political or philosophical ideas in a very simple way.

Used correctly, Instagram memes give you an incredible way to engage your target audience and make your brand stand out online. Alternatively, post the wrong meme, and you could end up alienating your hard-earned IG followers.

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Worth it.

A post shared by Pete Zaroll (@totinos) on

Why Instagram Memes Work for Brands

Instagram memes are successful because they’re ideally suited to the ‘Grammers that your brand interacts with every day. According to studies, 46% of Instagram users say that they use the channel to find things to laugh about.

At the same time, Instagram memes make your content more relatable online. Even if you’re a big corporation, you can give your company a “human” side by posting a meme that your audience can relate to. Some of the main reasons why memes are so effective for brands include:

  • They’re great for giving your brand a unique personality and authentic voice.
  • They appeal to the younger generation (69% of Instagram users are under the age of 35)
  • They give your business a way to connect with trending topics and ideas
  • They lead to higher engagement levels from your audience
  • They give you another way to make your brand memorable (if someone sees a similar meme elsewhere, they’re likely to think about your brand)

Plenty of companies have begun to use Instagram memes as a way of infusing new life into their companies and giving their Instagram account an edge. However, before we discuss some of the best ways to use Instagram memes in your campaigns, it’s crucial to make sure that you know how to protect yourself against #Meme mishaps.

How to Avoid Mishaps with Instagram Memes

When used correctly, Instagram memes are nothing more than innocent fun. Unfortunately, things can go wrong when you end up using a picture on your Instagram feed that gets you into a battle over licensing rights. With that in mind, it’s important to check the rights on an image before you use it. Never copy an image onto your feed without knowing whether it’s free to use.

Additionally, some other ways you can protect yourself with Instagram memes include:

  • Developing a clear social media policy: Make sure that you know what kind of humor your audience likes, and what topics your brand can comment on without causing problems.
  • Stay clear of endorsements: Don’t endorse any specific company other than your own – this can lead to legal problems.
  • Make sure that you understand the meme: before you use any meme on social media, make sure that you know what it means. You can find plenty of guides online like Know Your Meme.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way let’s look at how you can use Instagram memes to upgrade your campaign, with some examples from the experts!

Step 1: Make Sure You Know Your Audience

Just like with any marketing strategy designed to get you more Instagram followers, the most important thing you can do to get started is to ensure that you understand your audience. Learn who already likes your brand online and find out what they care about. For instance, if you’re the kind of company that sells investment banking solutions to middle-aged professionals, there’s a good chance you’re not going to accomplish much with Instagram memes.

If you know that your customers are savvy enough to appreciate this form of digital humor, then find out what kind of memes they’re sharing. This way, you can take advantage of current trends. Totinos, a company known for their pizza rolls, is an expert in sharing fantastic memes on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pete Zaroll (@totinos) on

Step 2: Get the Image Right

As we mentioned above, memes are particularly well-suited to Instagram because they combine a short caption of text with an image. To get the most out of your Instagram memes, you need to choose the right kind of image to delight and engage your audience.

Sometimes, this might mean re-creating a popular meme with a new picture. On the other hand, if you’re concerned that you can’t get an image just right, then you could try using a meme generator online. Either way, make sure that the image you choose is both high-resolution and relevant to your brand.

A great example of a company who gets their meme images right is Barkbox, a subscription company for dogs. All of their memes include pictures of dogs that they’ve either snapped themselves, picked up for free from creative commons, or had sent into them from customers.

Barkbox creates memes that are relatable to animal lovers, which means that their content gets shared thousands of times online – perfect for generating new followers.

Step 3: Develop a Great Sense of Humor

Memes are all about comedy.

If you want your Instagram memes to resonate with your followers, then you’re going to need to develop a good sense of humor. To get the best engagement on your memes, you’ll need to make sure that the sense of humor you portray is the same as your target audiences. With that in mind, go and check out some of the memes that they’ve liked from other brands.

While you’re going to have to do a little bit of experimenting to find the comedy that flows best with your fans, it’s best to stay away from any comedy that might be dangerous, like political comments, or anything that insults your customer.

Gucci is an excellent example of a company who managed to use Instagram memes to their advantage, despite not having a strong reputation for comedy. You probably wouldn’t expect such a polished and luxurious brand like Gucci to be an expert in memes, which may be why posts like the one below took customers off guard.

Screenshot of Gucci using an Instagram meme

Step 4: Don’t Force It

Finally, just as with any other form of viral content or social media marketing, it’s important not to push too hard for your Instagram memes to work. If you try to force the humor on your page, then you’ll end up hurting your brand reputation in a way that’s hard to come back from.

When used in the right place at the right time, Instagram memes can be a great way to add personality and depth to your content. However, that doesn’t mean you should use these Instagram hacks just because they’re trending. If your audience isn’t interested in memes, or you don’t understand how to make the most of them, then just try something different.

Today’s ‘Grammers can spot fakers from a mile away, and they’ll be much more responsive to you if you engage them with an authentic attitude.

Use Instagram Memes with Caution

Even if you happen to have the right audience and brand to make using memes a good idea, it’s important to limit the number of memes in your content. Remember that your followers will expect a wide range of different material from you, and they won’t keep coming back if you provide them with nothing but the same tired ideas.

If you’re struggling to get the most out of your Instagram campaigns, and you’re not sure that memes are the right path for you, consider reaching out to Upleap. Our Instagram marketing managers will get your account back on track in no time.

Start your free trial here.


By Rebekah Carter

Hi! I'm Rebekah, a full-time writer specializing in the spaces of digital content, business, social media and tech.

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