Dan Raaf

The wildlands of social media can be chaotic and eccentric. A universe where brands can pop up overnight and disappear just as fast.

Celebrities can be made or destroyed with a single tweet.

Algorithms can crush reach or show you to a million fresh faces. Disgruntled customers and competitors can troll your posts while friends and fans may sing your praise.

And in this wild frontier, Instagram is the baddest of them all.

It is a place where people can discover remarkable, shareable, value-packed and viral content. And at the same time get bogged down with endless mounds of crap.

All of which are churned out by brands, influencers and regular people by the second. By the time it took you to read this far, over 29,000 new photos have been uploaded.

So how can you stand out above the rest?

One of the most viral and effective strategies a few brands have leveraged on Instagram is the power of meme marketing.

This is done by using relatable, edgy and inspirational content to drive traffic to target accounts with the intent of new followers, link-in-bio clicks and overall massive brand awareness.

Some of the most cost-effective distributors of this content are meme and theme pages.

There are many out there that have 1-10 million followers that charge less than $500 for a paid post.

Even without getting a “follow”, anybody who’s looked at your Instagram page or liked a post is added to a “custom audience” within the Facebook ads system.

Brands using this viral meme strategy are gaining both a valuable following and an invisible audience they can later target using ads with a specific intent.

Here, I’m going to discuss 3 different brands. Each with a completely different target audience, business model and content strategy yet still getting very powerful results.

Fashion Nova | Apparel Brand

Fashion Nova is essentially the king (or queen) of Instagram brands, reigning superior above others in innovation, edge and swag.

A pioneer in the industry and starting with no physical stores, (they now have 5 locations in the Greater Los Angeles area), Instagram has been their bread, butter, frosting, and whip cream with a cherry on top and a dash of Tapatio.

Fashion Nova is also one of the most searched for and fastest growing fashion brands online.

And they aren’t just a brand, they’re a culture.

By making themselves so cool that their customers purchase their clothes and tag the brand in their social media posts.

Essentially, they’ve built their own army of micro-influencers who are willing to pay for the product and then advertise it for free.

On top of macro and micro influencers, they also use a lot of memes on a lot of meme pages to drive traffic to their Instagram.

This ballin’ on a budget brand is really dominating the space.

This strategy results in a massive amount of traffic and growth to their page. As of writing this, they have over 12 million followers.

To stay on-brand, however, Fashion Nova keeps their Instagram timeline product-specific. You won’t find any “dank memes” on their page, though they keep that sexy and edgy vibe throughout the feed.


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The Clever Investor | Business Influencer, Personal Brand

Cody Sperber (@cleverinvestor) uses a strategy similar to Fashion Nova and applies the content he uses to grow his Instagram to keep his page engaged.

This allows for strong engagement, massive brand awareness, and the ability to build a custom audience so he could retarget people later using Facebook ads with a more specific call to action.

Cody (and his team) use inspirational memes that are often curated from other inspirational pages and redesigned and tailored for his brand.

This content performs well all through Instagram. They can basically have any large Instagram account repost their content and tag @cleverinvestor to get immediate growth and results.

Pound for pound, Cody’s page has a more powerful engagement rate than Fashion Nova’s. This is because the same content he uses to grow his page remains on his page.

To stay on (personal) brand however, Cody does include his photos of himself and his lifestyle (from lambos to family time) throughout the feed.

He applies the principle of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: inspirational meme, fun content, informative content…Cody Sperber content.

This helps people remember who @cleverinvestor is so that he can remain relevant when it’s time to ask for a sale…

Marijuana Doctors | Medicinal Cannabis Website

There are many industries that are limited and restricted by social media Terms of Service. It’s extremely difficult to run Facebook ads for a cannabis company.

And though there are some workarounds, it’s still a royal pain in the yarbles trying to deal with the over-the-counter do-gooders at Facebook and Google.

The CEO and brains behind the marketing of @marijuanadoctors, Jason Draizin, has managed to dominate his space via networking, content marketing, and SEO.

To build a brand on social media, however, cannabrands are swimming against a strong current.

Jason recently decided to harness the power of influencers and memes on Instagram and in just a few months, managed to grow an organic and engaging following to over 60,000 engaging fans.

@marijuanadoctors create tailored and branded viral stylized content focused on educating the community of the benefits and treatments medicinal cannabis while driving traffic to their Instagram.

The content they use to drive traffic to their page is the same content that is on their page. So that followers know what they’re going to get.

This may not achieve the most viral growth but staying consistently branded on every single post is a powerful way to build awareness, even if there isn’t a page follow.

Unlike @cleverinvestor’s audience, where a small portion of the fanbase will actually convert, utilizing Jason’s strategy for @marijuanadoctors' builds a prequalified audience, filtering out those who would just following for fun.

These fans are following with the common goal of cannabis advocacy, rights, and to learn more of its medicinal qualities.

Fashion Nova may have developed their own culture but Marijuana Doctors tapped into an existing culture within the cannabis community.

Where most accounts with 60,000 followers would see a 3-4% engagement rate, @marijuanadoctors sees engagement at 6-10%, thanks to their consistent content strategy.

A Final Note

One of the most impactful, powerful, and cost-effective approaches to going vial on the internet is by using memes as content and large meme accounts as a distribution of that content.

Most brands guffaw at this, completely disregarding the concept. Like how Blockbuster laughed at Netflix and Yahoo brushed off Google.

As an online marketer, I get clients asking why I’m fascinated by memes. Well, it’s because I am an analyst at heart.

And the numbers don’t lie.

Marketing is all about storytelling. Memes, in their own way, are a form of micro-storytelling.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and the right caption can push the thought process in the right direction.

There are ways to harness the power of memes without going totally off-brand. But to truly utilize any of these strategies, you’ll need some marketing grit and an open mind.

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