When businesses try their hand at creating memes, they often fuck it up.
Big or small, local or multinational, meme sins can be found in all corners of the globe, by all manner of organisations.
Who could forget when luxury fashion house Gucci gave dank content a spin?
The result was a deeply unfunny, highly confusing jangle of image and text that proved they should stick to selling $400 graphic tees to upper-middle class white women:
Like trying to shove an uncooked snag up a bath faucet, companies see something popular that appeals to millennials and jump aboard without a second thought. The result? An inedible mix of cringe and mushed chorizo, more or less.
Memes are our generation’s way of communicating with each other about the things that matter to us.
Whether it’s discussing the thiccness of Trump‘s booty (and fukk is he thicc), replying “yassss queen” to almost any interaction or tagging our mates in stories about how our avo addiction means we’ll never own a home, memes are how we connect, celebrate and commiserate.
That’s why when big corporations try to use them to sell to us, we call bullshit pretty quickly.
There are some exceptions to this rule. Some companies make memes that are self-aware, relatable and original. And when they do, we take notice.
honestly u go
One of those companies is Hello Social.
Hello Social is a social media marketing agency and their Facebook page has become a cult hit in the PEDESTRIAN.TV offices. I routinely tag my colleagues and other mates who work in media in their memes. They’re usually super niche hot takes on everyday annoyances we face, like irritatingly clients or Facebook boosting.
We contacted the founder of Hello Social, Max Doyle, to get the low down on how and his team he did the near impossible: how they made marketing memes cool.
Before the jump, I should mention: if you don’t work in social media, the following interview may be dry and confusing. But if you do work in social media, ya gotta read this.
DOYLE: 28, male, Sydney.
What is Hello Social? Explain like I’m five.
Hello Social is one of Australia’s leading social media marketing agencies, offering social media strategy consultation, full social media management, content creation from blog posts and influencer marketing management. Ok, I’ll stop plugging. Our clients include Microsoft, Luna Park, SBS and even Healthy Harold.
How long has the company been around for?
Hello Social has been around since late 2011 and is one of the oldest social media agencies in Australia. I am the founder. I was working at another digital marketing agency beforehand and did their social media. Back then social media was super new and people were still figuring out what to do and how to make it work. I remember the biggest KPI was the number of ‘fans’ on your Facebook page and we didn’t need to promote posts to get reach. Oh, the good old days.
Where you do you find inspiration for the memes you make?
I think its important to tell you why we do memes. We used to do what every other social media agency used to do, we posted links to our boring blog, put up tips like “posting several times a week will help increase your engagement” and did inspirational quotes. Yep… and it was about as interesting as a dick flavoured lollypop and the number of fucks given was nil.
After looking out our branding I decided that I wanted to do an engagement post on Wednesday and really break the mould and create some content people would actually find interesting. Here is our first meme, it went significantly better than all our other posts so we knew we were onto something.
In terms of inspiration, the post that perform well are ones that are super trending, for example the Ed Sheeran post when he appeared on Game of Thrones. So the challenge is to find memes that are trending, which the average person knows, otherwise it goes over people’s heads such as the SnapMap meme we did.
When there is no clear trending meme we just come up with one about the generic frustrations we face working in the social media industry. Our fans egg us on to be more savage, however we recently lost quite a big client who specifically said our memes were unprofessional and offensive. We decided that if client’s can’t appreciate that our memes are jokes then we don’t want to work with them #sorrynotsorry.
How many people do you have in the content mines churning out these memes?
I look on generic platforms such as 9GAG to see if anything is trending, if there isn’t something out there then I try and come up with something. If I’m drawing blanks I get the office to chip in. We then show drafts to people in the office and make sure everyone “gets it” before we post it live.
We do boost the posts and that helps get the ball rolling, however it all comes down to the content, some posts will get 2,000 likes and others will get 150, yet be boosted for the same amount.
We had someone give us shit for boosting a meme, saying how corny it was that we put money behind it. To that I would say that these memes have done more for the brand awareness of Hello Social than anything else we have ever done. That includes investing $20,000+ in events and a $50,000+ adwords budget, these memes have really helped put us on the map.
Do you have a team of people responding to Facebook comments? Most of the time you respond when I tag people in your memes.
Generally no, I try and manage the comments myself, I find I’m more sassy when hungover. Giving interesting comebacks is really the name of the game, making the audience feel heard. We need to find the line between not pissing off our clients and influencers, whilst also appearing to be experts on the topic of social media as technical questions do arise.
I manage the comments from my phone and will generally reply until about 10:30pm until I fall asleep. I am also in a unique position where I am the owner of the company and a social media expert. So when someone is just plain being a dickhead, usual social media practice would say hide their comment, however, because of the position we are in, we are happy to publicly savage them.
Here is an example:
So there you have it.
Whether you’re a business looking to dominate Instagram, or a regular civilian who wants to make memes people will actually like and share, there are lessons to be learnt. They are:
- Tap into the ever-evolving zeitgeist of the internet
- Don’t be afraid to tell it how it is.
You might lose a client or an overly-sensitive friend, but you’ll make a few more people laugh… and there’s nothing more important than that, right?