That is the question.

Like Hamlet, marketers face a crisis. Posting a meme seems like a good idea at first, but it could wrap your brand in tragedy.

There are several examples of this going disastrously. One example is with #TheDress, a viral sensation that took brands by storm as they desperately crafted a post in time.

While self-promotion is crucial in the digital age, a brand must do so carefully. Memes can appear in the form of a hashtag, or in certain verbiage. Not treading carefully in the meme world could have your brand publicly mocked.

Here are 5 steps you should take before posting a meme on your social media platforms.

1. Research the meme.

The question you’ve been afraid to ask: is there a place to look up memes? Yes, there is. You can see a meme’s origin, background, and evolution. It may be a good idea to check your meme over the course of your content planning for the post. The internet is on a different time schedule than you.

2. Scout the meme in its natural habitat.

Don’t make the same mistake that Digiorno’s did. While your meme dictionary can provide you with a broad definition of the meme, it’s always a good idea to scroll through Twitter and other microblogging websites to see more examples of its application. A meme may start out to mean something innocent, but become warped over time.

3. Find out the target market’s opinions.

Different people like different memes. It’s not surprising to talk to one of your younger relatives and realize that their sense of humor is bizarre compared to yours. For this one, make sure you understand your target market’s lifestyle and what they may find funny. You want to “speak their language” when it comes to meme selection.

4. Look out to competitors and the industry at large.

Imitation is the best form of flattery. If you notice some other competitors making the same kind of post and taking advantage of the meme, it may be best to take part in it. Look at how their base responds to it. If their customers think that it’s cheesy, then they’ll probably think the same for you, too.

5. Figure out if the meme is old or new.

The same meme dictionary mentioned previously has a section with the meme’s search interest on Google Trends over time. This last part is particularly helpful, as it clues you into the meme’s current popularity. The meme may be new to you, but several months or even years old to post. Sometimes a meme can only last a few hours and never be heard from again.

If you or someone you know needs to know about the best practices for posting memes, or any type of media to your social media platform, contact the creative nerds at Chatterkick.

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Chatterkick Team

The Chatterkick team is made up of envelope-pushers, big thinkers, brainstormers, and conversation starters. We live and breathe social media advertising and all its analytics and data. We love to create engaged, happy social media communities around businesses, and we are dedicated to creating a glowing brand reputation, culture, and voice for our clients. This blog was brought to you in collaboration with multiple Chatterkick team members.