Should your brand work with meme accounts?

Sedge Beswick is the Managing Director of SEEN Connects, an innovative, global influencer and social marketing agency, which was founded by Sedge Beswick (previously of Red Bull, Three UK and ASOS) in 2016.

Connects is known for its progressive, creative and value-driven approach to influencer marketing. Everything Connects does is focused on delivering authentic and innovative campaigns for diverse and interesting clients, in partnership with an unrivalled community of highly engaged influencers.

Just some of the brands currently among Connects’ ever-growing client list are: Nike, Jo Malone London, Jack Daniel’s, Shop Direct Group and Instagram.

Connects is focused on empowering businesses to harness their social media presence in order to create meaningful consumer connections. Through strategic and investigative methods, Connects supports a multitude of diverse brands by creating social content that is authentic and genuine to each brand, in line with sourcing influencers who will represent these brands organically and responsibly.

Sedge is endlessly passionate about education and shaping the way students learn about her industry – has written the social media syllabus for three UK universities, as well as guest lecturing at London College of Fashion, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent Uni, Man Met and Saint Martins.

Should your brand work with meme accounts?

Meme accounts have performed brilliantly on social platforms, often – to the chagrin of chief marketing officers – far better than brands own highly-produced big-budget campaign assets. The origins of these witty, zeitgeisty posts were never commercial nor necessarily intended to be monetized – from the early MySpace days to present day Instagram – where they're now the platform's fastest growing accounts.

So, how do brands partner with meme accounts in an authentic way, that doesn’t feel contrived? Seen Connects recently hosted an event with Instagram meme account @Spicey, to discover and share exactly what it takes to make a meme account great, and how their humour and authenticity can translate into powerful brand assets. Here’s what we learned:

Big reach, small investment

Meme accounts in the context of influencer marketing are inexpensive to partner with. For some context, to collaborate with a persona-focused influencer with one million followers, your brand might pay £10,000 for a social campaign post. On the other hand to work with a meme account boasting the same number of followers, you could pay as little as £200-£500. This huge gap in fees is mostly down to the content itself. Although it must be entirely authentic to the meme account’s feed be that funny, relatable, etc., production costs are low as there’s usually no professional shoot, hair or make-up involved.

Focus on Cost-Per-Engagement

Just as you would with any other social campaign, it’s imperative that you set out the KPIs in advance of content distribution, to properly understand what success looks like. Brand partnerships with traditional influencers will usually generate an engagement rate of around 3.2%, whilst the saturation of content produced by meme accounts means their engagement rates sit at a much lower average of 1.7%. That being said, based on the going rates for meme accounts – the cost-per-engagement will be considerably less. We’re seeing an average CPE sitting at just £0.001, compared to a traditional influencer marketing campaign average or the industry average of £0.25.

Embrace high frequency

Meme accounts can post up to 50 times per day. This may seem like a daunting spam attack on an otherwise perfectly-curated feed, but remember that most meme accounts are ‘private’, so people must actually follow them in order to view the content. Over-saturation of content for viewers isn’t necessarily the problem here, but as a brand, you want to stand out – and if it’s low-cost to partner with meme accounts, it’s likely they’ll be partnering with multiple brand or businesses in just one day. Our top tip? Ask the account your partnering with to not post for a pre-agreed amount of time after your post is live – known to meme account handlers as ‘no in-front’.

Don’t sweat the captions

Most businesses go through multiple rounds of amendments when it comes to captions and copywriting for their social feeds. For meme accounts however, the perfectly curated caption is very much old news. Meme account management is much more focused getting the visual content to work within their grid, by sourcing the most-relevant imagery or graphics.

Did we mention video?

Even if you think your business is creating enough video content, trust us when we say, it isn’t. Successful meme accounts are churning out video content at a rate of 60% – as a worst-case scenario – compared to all other content and this is where we’re seeing IGTV come into its own too. When meme accounts post videos to their IGTV channels vs. posting natively to their grid, they can see an uplift in engagement by x 2.5.

Content is king, but outreach is queen

Working with meme accounts is very much about give-and-take. If the account agrees to promote your brands, you should also have a seeding plan as part of the wider distribution plan which the meme handlers can support you with. Remember though, meme accounts can’t just keep taking content and not engage back. That term is known as ‘leeching’.

Super Sundays

It’s a well-known fact that Sunday is the highest day for engagement when it comes to content, but particularly so in the case of meme accounts. Make sure to free up your brand’s social schedule for some light-hearted, meme orientated Sunday fun. Followers will likely be tired or – to be brutally honest hungover – and glued to their phones while catching up on TV. In this mindset, they’re looking to tag and share funny, easy-going content. Meme accounts tend to see an average of 3x higher engagement on Sundays, compared to any other day of the week.

Choose hashtags wisely

Hashtags can, in the wrong hands, veer on the cringe-worthy or tired. Try to use fewer and more specific hashtags to lure in a more niche following. Crucially, do not overdo it on the hashtags. Instead, focus on what you want to be known for and the unique type of content you’ll be creating.

Reach out for rates

The team running meme accounts are likely to be extremely busy and will probably receive a huge number of DMs each day. So, if you’re approaching them on Instagram, keep it simple. Truly, just messaging them with ‘Promo prices?’ will suffice to discover their rate cards. Lots of meme accounts also use the instant messaging app Kik for fee negotiation and posting rates. That being said, much like traditional influencers, thinking longer-term rather than on a post-by-post, means you’re more likely to get better rates and a smoother well-planned service. If you’re nervous about committing, you might ask for a ‘test post’ rate to make sure your audience is receptive to that specific humor and meme account.

As always, the best way to understand a new form of marketing is by recognizing which brands and channels are already doing it well. Do check out the online/app-based dating platform Hinge. They tell stories using the real-life experiences of their existing audience. They turn these stories into relatable memes to raise awareness of the app and to normalize Hinge as an everyday element of conversation for everyone. Pro-tip: add a dog to your meme and your Engagement Rate will soar.

Another example of excellent meme-brand collaboration comes from e-commerce fashion retailer FashionNova. They’ve been busy working with the same meme accounts for a while, drawing on familiar content that appeals to their audience in a really authentic way. For further examples of tip-top meme content, do check out Seen Connects’ latest campaign featuring meme accounts @thearchbish0pofbanterbury and @greatbritish.memes here – we followed the rules and overall reach was noticeably higher than forecasted, surpassing reach KPIs three times over. Is your brand ready to get involved? We say, go for it.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.