By Christine Dunn published February 24, 2012

Memes Point to Growth in Visual Content Marketing

memes and content marketingWhat do memes have to do with content marketing? With digital media increasingly emphasizing the visual . . . Everything.

Originally made popular, and viral, by college students across social media networks, memes – essentially funny pictures with a humorous phrase or caption attached – are starting to be used by companies looking for new ways to connect with their audience.

“If you think about it, these things are easy to make and yet elicit a personal, emotional reaction from people,” Gerry Praysman, “Buzz Marketer” at Brainshark. “It doesn’t take long to see what the picture means, but they get people to ask what’s interesting about it. If they’re witty and make sense, people will laugh at it for 15 minutes. People will sit and go from meme to meme.”

Memes represent what may be the next phase in the evolution of content marketing: visual content that places greater emphasis on creativity and design, and less on resources and resource management, Praysman said. The exploding interest in Pinterest, a visual pin-board for collecting ideas and inspiration, may be another example of this trend. The content on Pinterest gets people’s attention and makes it easy to take difficult, even onerous information, and put it into a digestible format.

Measure Value Through Creativity, Not Just Resources

“You see people jumping on these infographic and visual bandwagons because they work,” Praysman said. “People are getting that you can’t just sell to people based on a product pitch. You have to hit them on a different level with valuable, sharp content that explains what a company does and why they do it better.”

While many content marketers understand the need for visual content in campaigns, they falter in the execution because they’re almost too traditional in their approach. For example, in creating a video, marketers will typically spend a significant amount of time researching information within their company, writing a script, and spending more resources on a slick production. The value of the project is measured in part on the time spent creating it. The end result: many corporate videos are too long, too promotional and fail to add value, Praysman said.

“There’s a disconnect between what companies think is valuable and what is actually valuable to their audience. People sometimes judge the value of content proportionally to how difficult it was to create it,” Praysman said. Instead, “be really strategic about what the goals are. You have to spend more time thinking about what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Respect People’s Time

That means that instead of the 10- or 20-minute videos, focus on formats that are only one to three minutes long. You can give up a little on the quality of the video production if the value is clear and directly presented, Praysman said.

“Respect people’s time. Get to it,” Praysman said. “Good content marketing weeds away the people who have unworthy information, or who are not good at getting your attention. Creating content isn’t hard. Creating good content is very hard.”

For blog posts, look to sites such as Harvard Business Review, which does an effective job of boiling down content to a few paragraphs.

And integrate the use of mobile applications with the depth of content that a website can provide. The two platforms should seamlessly support each other.

“The world is going mobile but that doesn’t mean the website will die,” Praysman said. “Provide information on your product and who you are really well. Present it visually and innovatively. Your website has to be different. People have to want to stay there. That’s how you generate demand.”

Meme graphic via Shutterstock.

Author: Christine Dunn

Christine Dunn has almost two decades of experience writing about finance and business issues. As founder and president of Savoir Media, she works with companies and executives on developing strategic, integrated media and marketing programs. Prior to starting her award-winning company, she worked at Bloomberg News, where she served as Boston Bureau Chief and ran industry coverage for several national teams of reporters, including consumer/retail, mutual funds and education. She also authors "Dollar for Dollar," the personal finance blog on The Boston Globe's website. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @ChristineODunn.

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  • Stephen Bateman

    Some very valid points about Video but don’t you find many infographics tiresome? 

    • Gerry Praysman


      When it comes to infographics, I think Joe Chernov (VP Content Marketing at Eloqua) says it best when he points out that they’re all getting to be very tiresome….except the really good ones. For all effective types of content, people will overuse them without creating something really good. There’s definitely a lot of noise when it comes to infographics, but I think the ones that are done well and are innovative will continue to stand out.

      Thanks very much for your comment!

      Gerry Praysman

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