We’re focusing on using visuals here at Mightycause in the month of July, and one thing we wanted to talk to you about was the use of memes on Facebook. Wikipedia defines “meme” as “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Often memes show up as an image with words that can be easily shared on Facebook. I went back and looked at a lot of different NPOs and how they use memes on Facebook and I was able to pull some ideas on what works and what might not work so well.
1. The Use of a Celebrity Image to Get Attention
Often times people will share an image simply because they like the celebrity being featured. This might not necessarily help your cause on principle, however. The celebrity needs to be supported by important information, even if the celebrity is extremely well-known.
2. Clear Calls to Action
One great way to supplement the use of a celebrity image is to tie them to extremely clear calls-to-action. Indeed, calls-to-action are an often overlooked part of most marketing tactics. What do you want people to do when they see your meme?
Tips 1 and 2 are illustrated in this meme from charity: water.
Apart from the fact that the celebrity is Justin Bieber in this case, this meme has a lot of good things going for it. There are two extremely clear calls to action: charity: water’s website is clearly shown, the image is crisp, clean, and easy to read, and the image of Justin Bieber, along with his influence, would be enough to inspire sharing. This meme was shared 65 times.
3. Use of a Twitter Hashtag
One meme I found, by UNICEF, included a Twitter hashtag as part of the meme. This is an interesting idea that could inspire cross-platform sharing and awareness. However, the image itself is not too striking or attention-getting. What do you think?
It’s important to remember that when a meme is shared on Facebook, people won’t always take the time to read your long explanation. In this case, it’s not clear at a glance what the call-to-action is here. The images are small and a bit hard to see, and the white copy against the busy background doesn’t pop a whole lot. This meme got 56 shares compared to the charity: water share number of 65.
4. Use of a Clear Message Tied to Your Cause
What problem are you trying to address? A concise (something that could be tweeted) explanation works really well.
5. Use of a Powerful, Compelling Image
A powerful image coupled with a clear message is a great combination for a Facebook meme. The only catch is to make sure they work well together.
These two tricks of the trade are captured in this meme from United to End Genocide:
The message here is attention-grabbing, as is the image, but if you share this meme on Facebook you’re not really telling people what to do. How can you help solve this problem? The copy tied to the image contains the call-to-action, which was to contact congress. But again, if you’re taking a quick glance at this picture, a next step won’t be obvious. Despite that, this meme got a whopping 206 shares, indicating that a powerful image is powerful currency on Facebook.
6. Use of a Famous Quotation
If you use Twitter, you know that people tweet out famous quotations quite often, and those tweets often get shared. You can use the same sort of logic with a Facebook meme. Take a look at what No Kid Hungry 2 did with this meme:
Now, the image on this meme is not really attention grabbing. I actually had to look at it for a moment to realize it was a mitt, which went along with the quotation. The meme does include a call-to-action and the website for the organization. Unfortunately, this meme only had 18 shares. The quotation, although it’s touching and powerful and from a famous person, does not correspond at a glance to what No Kid Hungry is about. If people have to work to figure out your message, your impact will go down.
7. Careful Planning
Up above we talked about using a Twitter hashtag in a Facebook meme. Take a look at this meme from USA for UNHCR:
The image for this meme is powerful and is highly relevant for what the UN Refugee Agency is up to. However, big letters and easy-to-ready copy are the best ways to go. You’ll notice that the copy at the bottom is not just white but also very small, and that’s where the call-to-action is.
The biggest problem with this meme, however, is that it uses a QR code, which is that little square in the lower left-hand corner. QR codes can be scanned with a smart phone device to take you to a website or something else online. The problem here is you’re already online OR you’re using your smartphone to access Facebook. In either case, scanning a QR code doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I hope these tips for using Facebook memes to promote your cause have been helpful. Remember that when people are on Facebook, they usually are only taking a quick glance at something before they decide to share, like, or pass. You want a compelling image, a clear message, and most importantly, an easy-to-understand call-to-action so that your cause can achieve its goals.
What would you add about Facebook memes? Have you found success using this tactic to promote your cause? We’d love to hear your thoughts!