Check out our advice on social media etiquette and specifically on posting charity memes
Sometimes it’s tricky to balance humour and crass, but getting memes right helps charities go viral, increase their audience, and spread their reach.
In addition, memes can raise staff morale and increase fundraising power. It can sometimes be hard to get that balance right, especially since sharing controversial memes can harm reputations.
In this article, we look at when, and when not, to share internet memes.
First things first, all organisations should draw red lines across social media. For many charities, this might include guidelines around charity and individual social media accounts.
It’s important to understand that a social media policy should cover both staff-produced and corporate content. To assist smaller charities, CharityComms offers a free policy template.
Starting with the basics, you’ll want to cover the type of digital content that is sharable, versus what is potentially harmful. The policy should define roles, responsibilities, and the framework around media.
Ensure that it’s clear when staff need approval for sharing materials. Other relevant topics to include are privacy issues and online monitoring.
Social media posts say a lot about charity brands. They can also be telling of political leanings, culture, and behaviour. Here are our dos and don’ts for when sharing memes on social media.
Don’t get in trouble for sharing a copyrighted image. AdEspresso says that checking the rights on images is important because you don’t want to get caught up in any legal battles.
The Social Media Examiner offers a pro tip when assessing whether memes are suitable or not. The magazine says: “Many meme marketing attempts miss the mark because they’re fundamentally structured as generic ads rather than cultural commentary. Successful memes don’t include an action item; there’s no ‘buy’ or ‘subscribe’ in the body.”
Put more simply, when deciding to share memes, make sure they are culturally relevant, rather than an advert for fundraising. The most successful memes are those that are funny and about popular culture, rather than a call to action.
Memes often go viral because of a significant event. To get the most traction and reach, act quickly. Share memes as soon as they are popular. Outdated memes won’t resonate with your supporters, so gauge your audience.
As part of your social media policy, define your risk appetite. Posting political commentary may not be allowed, but uncouth jokes may be. When deciding to post memes, do a risk analysis to evaluate what could happen if the meme is posted. A SWOT analysis is a good starting, along with taking a closer look at the impact on reputational, brand, market, operational and legal risk.
Widely shared memes might miss the mark for your charity. Rather than share something that doesn’t quite make sense, repurposing images could work to engage audiences.
Content10x, the image editor, says that tweaking existing memes or charity content can engage audiences further. They suggest taking a look at older content and updating it with recent jokes or relevant puns.
Sprout Social says that memes can have a powerful effect on your strategy. For charities, memes should be used infrequently. To point out, Sprout Social warns that using too many memes can look unprofessional or unnatural.
At any time, there are likely many viral memes floating around the internet. However, when thinking about sharing a meme, stay on brand. To keep within the boundaries of your charity, Zoho suggests defining your brand’s voice.
Going back to digital marketing basics, charities will need to determine who their audience is. Segmentation here is key, so you understand how to speak to and engage your targets.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to memes. In addition to repurposing charity content, Buffer suggests checking out accounts with successful memes. Charities can then hop on the bandwagon and re-share or tweak appropriate materials.
There’s always a period of trial and error for most new projects. For charities sharing memes for the first time, there’s the potential gaffe waiting in the wings.
Forbes Magazine highlights some of the mistakes that companies have made and how they have recovered. If you’ve missed the mark and offended audiences, the first step is to issue a sincere apology.
Finally, as part of your strategy, understand that there’s lots of content out there. Memes, jokes, and cultural commentary may not work for every audience or charity brand. If your charity brand includes a serious tone, there’s no need to share a meme for the sake of it.