CHICAGO: Brands must understand “meme machines” if they want to leverage this popular form of online content to connect with consumers, according to Joe Federer, Head of Brand Strategy for Reddit.

Federer discussed this subject – which is important for any marketer hoping to engage with users of sites like Reddit, Facebook and Snapchat – at the Brand Strategy Conference, an event convened in Chicago by GSMI.

Across the digital arena, Federer argued, the “meme machine” acts as a structure that informs and generates new pieces of content based around similar themes, be it “Mondays suck”, “Wake up crying”, or animated GIFs of film clips.

“If you want to play in that space, you really have to follow the format, or else your meme will be rejected,” he said. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: Reddit’s tips for creating successful memes.)

Alongside building on existing topics of popular interest, Federer asserted that marketers who take a brand-centric approach to crafting memes are also missing the point.

“If I am a consumer interacting with your brand in the social media space, I do not care about you as the brand,” he said. “I care about what you as the brand can communicate about me. It’s for me. It’s not for you.”

A nuanced comprehension of how (and why) people use social platforms, for Federer, is equally important. More specifically, he employed a Freudian lens to establish the broad roles fulfilled by various digital properties.

As an example, Federer suggested that Facebook and Snapchat reflect the “ego”, and are mainly used to reach people the user knows.

Twitter and Instagram, by contrast, embody the “superego”, and potentially allow people to hit a broader audience by showing off an idealised version of the self. “You never have a bad day on Instagram,” said Federer.

On its part, Reddit – a forum-based platform that features communities where people connect around their passions and beliefs – mirrors the “id”, or more basic and instinctual desires.

Greater understanding of consumers, he continued, can help marketers create memes that fit in with the organic ways that individuals are using these services.

“I don’t think people hate brands,” Federer said. “I think people hate that brands can’t integrate into the meme pool in a natural-feeling way.”

Sourced from WARC