Meme-based marketing is becoming so commonplace that posts like this are almost mundane:
Apply to be @BudLight Seltzer’s Chief Meme Officer. Get paid to make memes. Apply at the link in bio. #ad
Recently, Bud Light bought a swath of ads in the form of memes just like this about a job listing for a “chief meme officer.” The above example actually appeared in my own feed a few days ago. They are offering candidates $5000 a month to make ten memes a week about their hard seltzer brand.
Whether you consider it tacky or hilarious, what you may not realize is that the history of meme-based advertising goes back nearly a decade.
The Denny’s Tumblr page is considered the first to have found success with marketing-by-memeing in early 2013, utilizing surreal, bizarre humor that made direct references to the culture and in-jokes of the rest of the platform at the time. Other fast food brands soon took this approach to Twitter with wild success through the late 2010’s.
The most widely followed accounts that comprised Food Twitter weren’t necessarily the biggest companies, but rather the strongest brand images on the platform. The A-list included names like Wendy’s, known for its sassy clapbacks; Arby’s, which often alluded to nerdy and fandom-related subcultures; and Corn Nuts, for whom a funny online presence majorly boosted retail sales as well as sales among Millennials.
The numbers don’t lie: Sh*t posts sell. These accounts still have dedicated followings of hundreds of thousands of users, mostly teens and young adults.
In high school, I unironically followed many of these hip brand accounts. Back then, I thought their content was subversive, like straight-up satire. It made me wonder, who were the masterminds that were out there convincing junk food companies to pay them to goof around online? And how do I land that job?
Through adapting the offhand, unfiltered style of the “fellow kids” on social media, these brands made themselves seem self-aware, approachable, and (dare I say) #relatable to me in a way they never would have otherwise. For example, I had no reason to be following Steak-Umm. I didn’t even eat meat. But they were funny, so who cared?
It’s kind of genius, considering the sheer number of eyeballs that spend hours a day scrolling. By turning their social media accounts into a source of entertainment, these companies are able to reach a wider base of loyal fans.
But it’s a tricky balance. Poorly thought out attempts at brand meme-ry have produced plenty of cringey results, too. Does anyone else remember when Sunny D made their “depression tweet”?
I can’t do this anymore
Imitating a person in actual psychological distress to sell orange flavored beverages was widely received as… not a great look. Other famously uncomfortable attempts at brand memeing include:
- An attempted viral campaign around the brutal death of the Planters Mr. Peanut character, his funeral, and his bizarre resurrection as “Baby Nut”
- Michael Bloomberg’s ill-conceived meme-based presidential bid, #meme2020
- Frosted Flakes’ Twitter account for Tony the Tiger, which faced an overwhelm of outright sexual harassment from furries and ultimately was forced to deactivate entirely
But hey, no attention is bad attention, right?
So what the heck does this say about Bud Light Seltzer’s meme team?
Well, in her video “The Late Capitalism of Fast Food Twitter,” popular Youtube essayist Sarah Z summarizes the issue with the fusion of advertisement and entertainment. She says that “this new level of social media usage, where ads are often functionally indistinguishable from fun content you would still share with your friends otherwise [is] kind of terrifying… more and more this is starting to mean that ads are everywhere in your life, and you barely even register them as ads.”
And that’s true: It is hard to know when something in my feed is sponsored or not. When an account that I follow gets paid to review a product, or post annoying memes about a job opening at Bud Light Seltzer, that transaction is not always clear.
Sarah Z goes on to highlight that “if this is the direction that ads are going to take from here on out, imagine how that is going to affect people who never grew up knowing anything else.”
All that being said, I won’t lie here: Getting paid to make internet memes still sounds like my dream job… even if it would mean slightly selling my soul to get it.
Tired of “link in bio”? Here is a solution for Instagram linking
(MARKETING) The days of only one link in your Instagram bio are over. Alls.Link not only lets you link more, it gives you options for marketing and analytics too.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably swapped out the link in your Instagram bio 100 times. Do I share my website? A link to a product? A recent publication? Well, now you don’t have to choose!
Alls.Link is a subscription-based program that allows you to, among other things, have multiple links in your bio. I’m obsessed with the Instagram add-ons that are helping business owners to expand the platform to further engage their audiences – and this is NEEDED one.
With the basic membership ($8/month), you get up to 10 customizable Biolink Pages with shortened links (and you’ll be able to choose your own backend). You also get access to Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel for your pages. With the basic membership, you will have Alls.Link advertising on your Biolink Page. Plus, you’ll be allotted a total of 10 projects, and Biolink Pages with 20 customizable domains.
With the premium membership ($15/month), you get link scheduling for product drops and article releases, SEO and UTM parameters, and you’ll have the ability to link more socials on the Biolink Page. With this membership, you’re allotted 20 projects and Biolink Pages with 60 customizable domains.
If you’re unsure about whether or not Alls.Link is worth it (or which membership is best for you), there is a free trial option in which you’ll be granted all the premium membership capabilities.
Overall – premium membership or not – I have to say, the background colors and font choices are really fun and will take your Biolink Page to the next level. Alls.Link is definitely a program to consider if your business has a substantial Insta following and you have a lot of external material you want to share with your followers.
The day-by-day statistics are a great tool for knowing what your audience is interested in and what links are getting the most clicks. Also, the ability to incorporate Google Analytics into the mix is a big plus, especially if you’re serious about metrics.
If you have a big team (or manage multiple pages), I would suggest going premium just for the sheer quantity of domains you can customize and link, though there are various other reasons I’d also suggest to do so. Take a look and see what works for you!
Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales
(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?
Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”
The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.
The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.
A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.
Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.
This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.
When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.
The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.
It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.
In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.
Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions
(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.
Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.
This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.
To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.
Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.
Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.
In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.
Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.
For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.
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