Meme accounts are swiping the social media spotlight from influencers. Once the apples of advertisers’ eyes, influencer accounts have racked up a rep for being promiscuous and inconsistent. Currently at a much more affordable price than influencers, meme marketing might just become the next It strategy.
As opposed to influencer marketing, where content must synchronize with the individual’s personal Instagram style, meme marketing entails weaving brands into content created for the purpose of sharing. Like most memes, it is often humorous. Several brands have already tapped into the blossoming market, including streaming service Hayu, which advertises on two meme accounts on Instagram including ScouseBarbieX.
Though influencer marketing quickly won over brands looking to advertise on Instagram, the results were less winsome. About 70% of brands use Instagram influencer partnerships, according to Gartner L2’s report on the strategy. However, many soon learned that with influencers, what you see isn’t what you get.
The more followers an influencer has, the more likely it is that he or she works with several brands from different sectors all at once, which can dilute the message of his or her content. Additionally, because the sweet spot of cost versus engagement lift is best found amongst micro and advocate influencers, the pickings for brands looking to get the most bang for their buck have significantly slimmed since the start of the influencer craze.
Influencers aren’t what they used to be—especially when compared to meme accounts, which “get such a good return on investment compared to influencers, who no longer get the same results,” according to Lauren Smeets, a talent strategist at Cult LDN. Still, though meme accounts may seem promising, there’s no guarantee that they will play out exactly as brands hope. In fact, vodka brand Smirnoff saw lower engagement on Instagram when trying out meme advertising, prompting them to shift to more people-first imagery and less ‘posed’ shots with text, resulting in an improved engagement rate. Additionally, the strategy does not come without risks of its own. For example, most meme accounts are only just beginning to become aware of their value, and are taking new precautions such as making their accounts private in an effort to fend off copycat accounts—a dilemma that influencers rarely face.