The Rise of the Meme Account
If you are active on Instagram or Facebook, then you are familiar with memes. It’s just a fact. Memes are popular with many social media users for their quirky and relatable wit. A meme can, in a few seconds, sum up an idea or a reaction, or spark interest in something. Now there is a new platform for memes – the meme account. As we enter an era of what some advertisers consider a slow decline for influencers, brands are turning instead to meme accounts to get their message out in a pithy and humorous way.
Agencies such as social media guru CULT LDN are finding meme accounts to be a more effective tool in branding and advertising than a standard endorsement from an influencer. The creative minds behind meme accounts are able to provide humor, particularly humor that appeals to millennials, more reliably than influencers. Memes are memorable and usually get repeated views and shares, creating powerful engagement for a brand.
It’s hard to argue with the economics. According to Tim Armoo, CEO of Fanbytes, an influencer with one million followers might demand $15,000 for an endorsement, while a meme account with the same following could cost around $1,000. This may change as the producers of meme accounts start to see their power and their value, but for now the value to advertisers is clear.
Meme accounts can be effective and more stable at promoting brand awareness, as their share of followers grows. However, this is not true on all platforms or for all products. Advertisers tend to look at the engagement rate (calculated as likes plus comments divided by the number of followers) of an influencer as compared to a meme account. Look at fashion, for example. Both influencers and meme accounts have an engagement rate of 3.5. Overall, however, meme accounts engagement rate tracks somewhat lower than influencers.
However, major advertisers and agencies are looking with interest at this emerging form of branding. Zanna Wharfe, senior strategist at the agency We Are Social says they are currently considering a shift towards meme accounts with some brands. She says, “This is a specific type of content you’re producing with them with a specific look and feel and humor, rather than using the influence of the individual. It’s a new distribution platform.”
Some agencies caution that the irreverent humor of most memes is not appropriate for all advertisers. Also, as meme accounts become more mainstream, they will likely find the same pitfalls as influencers, particularly the same reputation for buying followers. For the moment, however, advertisers are finding them less demanding than influencers. Some meme accounts are even developing into their own niche agencies. As they grow, they risk commoditization. At that point, they will see less relatable, authentic, and fresh, and advertisers will begin to look for the next new thing.