Lots of companies recognize that today’s customer journeys will begin on social media, when people first become aware of a brand through posts on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.
You can produce to create social content to lead that conversation, but memes — those funny, highly shareable posts that spread virally — might seem more a little more difficult to pull off. Memes may also originate and get shared primarily outside a brand’s own social accounts, so it may feel like there’s less of an ability to control them.
This is where Doing Things Media (DTM), based in Atlanta, comes in. The company operates a growing stable of more than 20 highly popular social accounts on Instagram that include No Chaser(7.8M followers), Middle Class Fancy(2M followers) and Gamers Doing Things(1.4M followers).
Beyond the entertainment value DTM offers consumers, the company also works directly with brands such as Activision, T-Mobile and Netflix, creating memes on their behalf and amplifying them on social media. In fact, DTM recently gained attention for a partnership with Anheuser-Busch to find a “Chief Meme Officer” for its Bud Light Seltzer brand.
DTM president Todd Anderman acknowledged that memes may not typically be considered as a key element of customer experience (CX) design, but all brands are interested in developing relationships with customers through culturally-relevant content that drives awareness, engagement and sales.
“We live in a world where people are doing a lot to avoid ads,” Anderman told 360 Magazine. “If you look online, there are ads everywhere and data and audience targeting, but it’s not often being done in context and in an invited way.”
Memes can do a better job of appealing to customers because they operate more in line with how everyday people behave online, Anderman said. Unlike an ad they didn’t ask to see or that interrupts an experience, for instance, memes tend to be curated directly by an audience. In that sense they can allow a brand and its customers act in a more collaborative way.
Of course, weaving memes into CX might be a little more straightforward for some brands than others. With a streaming provider like Netflix, DTM can take sample clips from a comedy special and repurpose it as memes across one or more of its social channels.
Even for more traditionally serious subject matter, DTM has managed to find a way in. Anderman referred to a client in the income tax space, for instance, where DTM created memes about what people would do with their refund that poked fun of dads.
T-Mobile, meanwhile, wanted to address the issue of spam calls. DTM developed memes that illustrated the ridiculous of many of those calls, such as offers for a free trip to Hawaii or being told by a Nigerian prince that you’re suddenly a millionaire. T-Mobile was able to include a link to its tools to block such calls in the first comment of the post.
“What we go back to is (the principle that) it has to be funny, it has to stop people in their feed, and that we know they’re going to smile, laugh and want to engage with it,” he said, adding that memes can be measured just as well as other forms of marketing content. “If we post a piece of content for a partner, we can tell in a minute or two if people are engaging with it and report back.”
DTM has also developed brand studies for its clients to assess the overall performance and effectiveness of a given campaign.
The COVID-19 pandemic took DTM off-guard just as it did the rest of the world, and though brands might be more leery of using memes in CX given the often grim headlines, Anderman suggested they could be a respite.
“Like everyone when our world changed, we all had to look at what is our voice and what are we communicating,” he said. “But we were looking at all of the messaging that was scaring everyone and we were seeing that the world was not a very happy place. That’s when we realized we could be that moment in everyone’s day when they actually smile.”
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.