hen it comes to marketing, there are many organizations offering ways for businesses to connect with digitized audiences. However, as digital audiences change and move from platform to platform, brands must think of new ways to engage. For Kevin Nguyen, the answer lies in meme marketing, content and partnerships.

Kevin Nguyen is the Director of Strategic Content Partnerships at Collab. According to their website, Collab is “a digital talent network and entertainment studio helping creators win at life.” Collab is a multi-channel network and full-service studio that helps creators protect their content while providing opportunities for growth, brand partnerships and more.

I sat down with Kevin to talk about the marketing industry, memes, and how Gen Z is changing the rules of traditional social media. 

[Bailey] What’s one of the biggest ways you’ve seen the meme industry and  the meme marketing industry evolve since you started your career? 

[Kevin] When I first started working at Collab, I was just looking for videos––the same way that meme accounts were looking for videos, but with a different purpose. They were looking for videos to post but I was looking for video owners and creators to help them make money. Over my first year, I worked with my team to streamline our content acquisition strategy and kept running into the same meme owners when acquiring licenses. This is when a lightbulb went off in our heads and we decided to partner with these meme page owners to work hand in hand to collect and license videos.

I think one of the coolest things over the last few years is just a general understanding among licensing companies, and the acceptance of permissions as a valid reasoning for meme accounts to share content. People want to license their content so they can generate revenue, but they also want to give permission to their favorite meme creators to post their videos with credit for the social clout. 

One of the most exciting things I’ve seen is the success of meme-based companies like IMGN Media (@Daquan) and FuckJerry. These two companies have been pivotal in showing that meme accounts are more than just static images and fail videos. The impact of these bigger meme personalities has definitely grown the industry and has even led to Instagram events dedicated just to meme creators.

Where would you like to see professional meme-ing go in the future? 

Brands need to think about the sheer impact of memes in the social media ecosystem. While chasing the meme dream, brands need to stay authentic and not come off as forced and cheesy. The ‘kids’ will call you out immediately.

In terms of actual meme creators, I’d like to see meme accounts become more like media companies and drive more collaborations. Every company is shooting for that social media virality so why not try to link your social media manager with their favorite meme account (assuming you’re able to make it fit your brand image).

Where do you see gaps in meme content or in the industry at-large? 

Support. There are so many meme accounts but not enough eyes and hands to support them against exploiters and abusers of the system. A lot of focus on platforms these days is on Creators, but if the meme accounts disappeared tomorrow I am confident that most social platforms would take a huge dive. 

From your point of view, what have been some of the most successful meme marketing activations to date?

Easily the Mike Bloomberg x Instagram blitz. This literally showed how much influence the meme community has. The amount of reach this campaign had was unreal and the way it took over everyone’s feed was orchestrated so well. The campaign was so insane that even Instagram themselves were a little shocked. 

What excites you most about the work that you do?

I love building relationships with meme creators. They’re underestimated and no one really takes them seriously. These unorthodox content curators are some of the smartest individuals I’ve ever talked to, and they’re the ones filling your feed and providing you with those few seconds of laughs that keep you scrolling. Working in licensing, I love that not only can I help everyday people generate revenue from their viral videos but also utilizing the networks of some of our meme partners to get them millions of additional clout points. 

Most exciting part though? Getting to tell people that I watch videos all day and work with some of their favorite meme accounts.

When building partnerships with meme publishers for Collab, what were some of the main goals you had in mind? Do you believe the meme publishers have lived up to those original goals?

My goal was to establish beneficial relationships for meme publishers and provide them with a safe and consistent way to feed content to their hungry followers. So far, it’s been a huge success and I don’t think many other companies have been able to truly replicate our system. Meme publishers have certainly lived up to my goals but we’re only going up from here! 

Where do you see the future of Gen Z marketing heading toward? What are the platforms or strategies that you believe will perform well in the future?

I personally think TikTok is going to be one of the biggest drivers of Gen Z marketing in the next few years. The way that this platform dictates virality and can turn an everyday Joe into a viral sensation overnight is unlike any other platform. Let’s not also forget how the platform is so insane at dictating trends that they can get a kids TV show song to be #1 on the music charts.

What predictions do you have for the future of meme marketing? 

I have nothing but optimistic goals for meme marketing in the coming years. As meme creators continue to grow their pages, the possibilities are endless. Offbeat Media Group is one of the prime examples, and they’ll be the trailblazer for other meme creators. 

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