M

emes are the digital language that change depending on current cultural events and the way they impact online communities. In short, meme formats develop thanks to culture and trends, and digital natives use them to communicate on social media and other online platforms. 


For brands, breaking into the meme marketing game can seem like a daunting task––especially with the amount of history involved in understanding how memes work. However, thanks to brands like Arby’s, the world of meme marketing is expanding to new audiences. 


While brands have full control over the content they create and share on social media, engaging with current trends is a great way to also engage with your audience. Since memes reflect current trends, meme marketing targets your audience while staying true to your brand voice. 


In this article, we explore the different meme marketing strategies that Arby’s uses across Instagram, and how by using memes, their brand is able to make a bigger impact on a larger group of consumers. These lessons are crucial to understanding how your brand can begin meme marketing campaigns of your own. 


How does Arby’s use memes?

Instead of following the brand formula of posting traditional content on social media, Arby’s experimented with different niches and creative expression. While still advocating for their own services and products, Arby’s has become widely known for adapting their content for each social media platform. Since the way that people communicate on Instagram is different from the way that people communicate on TikTok, it’s important for brands and marketers to identify how their audience interacts with each other on different networks.


Recognizing the importance of each of the platform’s unique characteristics led Arby’s to successful meme marketing campaigns on multiple platforms. Meme marketing is one of the best ways to reach a wide audience of young consumers with relatable and engaging content, but you must know how to do it properly.  


How Arby’s uses memes on Instagram:

Instagram started out as a platform for sharing photos. In previous years, the best way to use Instagram was to create content following a static image format, with clever captions to engage an audience of viewers. Arby’s opted to try something different. 


Early into the evolution of social media, Arby’s recognized the power of niche content with specific communities online. For example, instead of creating generic content on Instagram, Arby’s experimented with anime-related content to target the community of Instagram users that also liked anime. This manifested in cardboard cutouts of popular anime characters, as well as drawings of popular anime characters in various Arby’s branded condiments.


Arby’s was able to engage with a specific community on Instagram and appeal to their interests. Because of this, more people started following Arby’s just to see and engage with their anime content, resulting in higher brand awareness and recognition online. 


Eventually, Arby’s started branching out into video games. Now, the Arby’s Instagram account posts a variety of niche content relating to trending topics in gaming and anime, and their fans actively engage back. Most recently, Arby’s posted a drawing of Lady Dimitrescu from the recently released video game Resident Evil 8: Village.


How Arby’s uses memes on TikTok:

TikTok emphasizes the power of creativity, and the importance of community. Because of the TikTok algorithm, the more that people engage with a piece of content determines how many people are exposed to that content in the first place. For brands, the key to success is creating content that lots of viewers engage with. The question is: how? Here’s the answer: TikTok trends. 


Arby’s hopped on a trend, and they hopped on it fast. 


In 2020, TikTok user @h1t1 posted a video of a recently purchased television that would only show the Arby’s menu. The video went viral, and caught the attention of Arby’s themselves. Acting quickly, the social media team engaged with the viral content, commenting on the original video to open a line of communication. As the user @h1t1 continued to engage with the Arby’s TikTok account, more users were exposed to the scenario and followed along with the story to see how it developed. Eventually, Arby’s opted to create a new menu item––the $5 Missing Menu Meal––that was exclusively available from November 6th to November 20th, in accordance with the viral TikTok thread. 


By engaging with other users on TikTok, Arby’s was able to create such massive hype around their brand that other users on TikTok created their own content following the similar style of @h1t1 to get Arby’s attention. TikTok enabled Arby’s to increase their brand presence on the platform, while gaining followers thanks to their laid-back and comedic approach.

How Arby’s uses memes on Twitter: 

Arby’s Twitter presence is similar to the previous two platforms, and combines both strategies to form a new approach entirely. On Twitter, Arby’s alternates between engaging with fans through sponsored merch drops and replies, with independent meme tweets such as this one below.


By utilizing two different strategies on Twitter, Arby’s is able to hit both points of interest with their audience. They are keeping their followers up-to-date on what Arby’s is currently doing while showing off a comedic, playful side of the brand. This encourages new users to follow and engage with Arby’s on Twitter to see what kind of content they will release next, while also anticipating what trends they will hop on using an

irreverent attitude.


Overall, Arby’s is an excellent example of a brand that has studied trends on social media and adapted their strategy to include them. Meme marketing is an innovative way of engaging with audiences and increasing brand awareness, and these examples on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter reflect that. Memes communicate differently with different audiences, and Arby’s experimented with each. 


For brands and marketers looking to expand their digital media strategies, ask us about meme marketing!

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