The day I started writing this article, I found out what Bae actually stood for.
It was researching for this post which lead me to find that ‘Bae’ is an acronym for ‘before anyone else’ as well as a shortening of the word ’babe’. The amount of times I’ve seen this word on social media, on memes and in txt speak, it never dawned on me that it had a specific meaning. It’s not a word I use myself, but it peaked my interest to see what others are out there.
Today's social media slang (short language) is vast. We have terms, acronyms and abbreviations for absolutely everything. Some are quite ridiculous (why not, though?) and some have grown from txt speak to widely accepted words of conversation.
But with it’s rise in popularity, should it be adopted by all industries?
Retention and the Millennial Mindset
If you’ve concluded that Millennials are your target audience for whatever you're promoting or selling, bear in mind that it’s no easy feat to capture and hold younger minds while you communicate your message. Add on trying to get them to respond and further push your message to their peers, and it appears really difficult.
Millennials are a big deal though – not only are they the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, but they’re also entering their prime purchasing years, which is why they’re the perfect market to target.
But how do you get on their level, without looking amateurish?
Further exploration: the team over at Goldman Sachs Sachs have created an amazing interactive infographic on the Millennial Movement.
Popular Memes & Social Slang
1. On Point/Fleek
On June 21, 2015 Peaches Monroee uploaded a Vine video (RIP) of her checking herself out in the car, pointing out her eyebrows and coining the term "on fleek".
The clip went totally viral. At the time of writing, it’s had 53,068,500+ loops on Vine – and Peaches herself has 85.1k followers. The term is used globally, mainly on makeup posts, to showcase how great something looks (mainly, of course eyebrows and eyeliner – anything that can be precise!)
2. Can’t Even
This refers to the moment when someone says something moronic, or you’ve just witnessed the cutest thing and you can’t even… finish your sentence. A state of sheer speechlessness.
The 'even' portion of the phrase can be interpreted as a substitute for 'manage' or 'cope' for situations that are just so overwhelming.
Can't Even is a popuplar meme
A 'meme' is a concept or idea that spreads rapidly around the internet on message boards and social media; typically the former. Memes can be anything from phrases, images and videos – all have their place in the meme universe!
The French word même means “same” or “alike” and the Greek word “mimeme” from which “meme” is derived, from comes from the Ancient Greek μÎ¯μημα (mÄ«mÄ“ma), meaning “that which is imitated” / “something imitated” / “something copied”.
Basically, memes are typically funny jokes that spread super fast around the internet.
Meme's can be confusing
4. Netflix & Chill
There may be no point in explaining this slang term in detail – if you don’t know it by now, you’re either too young or far too old to be using it in conversation!
In short, it's a euphemism for sex and a sort of 'excuse' when you don't specifically want to ask for sex. Despite its sexual nature, the origins and true impact of this term have some interesting results!
As the phrase entered into everyday language, specific events, products, and services associated with the phrase started to emerge. Even acknowledgement from Netflix itself appeared, showing they were amused with how far it had evolved from the early use of the phrase (without sexual connotation), and genuinely meant watching the online streaming service, and relaxing.
Netflix and Chill has spread rapidly on social media
In mid 2014, the phrase had spread onto Twitter & Urban Dictionary, shortly after becoming an internet meme.
In early February of 2016, Netflix released results of a survey they'd run on how users in relationships use their service, described as a 'Netflix & Chill Study'. The results were accompanied with a series of social media posts with the hashtag "#DatingWithNetflix" promoting the idea of a positive impact for couples using the service.
5. But That's None of My Business
Kermit the frog has taken on the form of multiple memes over the years. This specific meme of Kermit drinking a cup of tea is used sarcastically imply 'but that’s none of my business' or 'I’m just saying'.
Posts relating to the meme usually contain the frog and coffee emoji instead of the image of Kermit.
Kermit the From features in this meme
Kermit in Your Marketing Campaign?
To use a meme or slang on your social media accounts, you first have to be aware of how your brand presents itself online. Memes are short-lived, funny statement images, whilst slang terms promote youth and freshness.
When using them, specifically as a brand – you should ask yourself: Is this funny? Are we current enough in all other aspects to bring Netflix & Chill into our ad campaigns without looking seriously awkward?
Even Steve Buscemi struggles
Due to the life cycle of a meme, they’re not ideal to use in a marketing campaign that has any sort of lengthy time span. Memes are also incredibly context-specific. They're a creation of their cultural surrounding and eventually won't make sense without a little background info.
Bear in mind that companies can also get memes wrong. Really wrong. When aligning with pop culture, it can sometimes provide mass benefits and yield great results, but that’s only when you nail it in context to the rest of your brand voice and message.
Everyone remembers McDonald's attempt, right? Using sexually suggestive social phrases to sell their double cheeseburger? That happened.
The ad worked in some aspects, it got young people talking about the brand, but it also illustrated just how out of touch McDonald's actually was.
A McDonald's millennial fail?
A more recent ‘social nope’ has occurred, in the form of Frack Feed. This whole site seemed like a parody brand to laugh at the poor dad jokes that people could muster in relation to Fracking.
But shockingly, the site is real – with one of their ads attempting to change the public opinion on hydraulic fracturing by jumping the (now outdated) Pokemon Go wave, but with little regard for any context.
Frackfeed's interesting awareness tactic
Does anyone actually know what this is trying to suggest? Catch what? If you’re as confused as we are, take a look at their entire meme section (yes, they have a whole page dedicated to this) and see what other gems they’ve created.
In the June of 2015, Chevrolet released an announcement (if you can call it that) about their new 2016 Cruz... in Emoji format. Yes, you heard that right – a famous, prestigious automobile firm publically announced a new car in the form of emoji.
Chevrolet's Emoji Press Release
Although I’m nearing closer to 30 with every passing day (a subject some people won’t let me forget!) I still consider myself young enough to be apart of the millennial bracket. Yet, I can’t for the life of me understand any part of that poster.
Maybe I am old.
If these mishaps aren't enough, check out our post on 6 social media fails you’ll be glad you weren’t responsible for, to see what not to do when getting your brand out there (be warned, these are unbelievably cringeworthy).
The lovely folks over at Buffer recently did a study to see what the effects of having an image attached to a tweet did for engagement. They took the last 100 tweets (not including retweets) and compared the averages with and without imagery included.
Buffer stats for social posts with images vs. without
The results are quite fascinating. What they show is that image based tweets faired much better than their text only counterparts, with more clicks, favourites and retweets combined.
This being the case, we know that adding media to your social tactics will boost your online presence if you know who to target. Couple that with the virality of a popular and current memes and the potential results are staggering.
"Whoever thinks Twitter is tiresome has never tried to craft a sarcastic, grammatically correct & fully literate tweet in 140 characters or less. Throwing in trying finding a related image and actually getting that tweet noticed is where the fun lies!"
The average user of social media spends approx 118 minutes per day scrolling through their social feeds (up from 109 minutes in 2015), yet many of us don’t have time or patience to read lengthy text posts.
This is why now, more than ever, imagery (within context) is important. You could write pages and pages of densely keyworded content to draw in consumers, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and a relevant and witty meme adds that little extra charm.
Unfortunately, memes have polarizing opinions. A lot of people love them, yet some people consider them tacky and cheap. Usually millennials who feel brands shouldn't be trying to get in on the joke or see using memes as poking fun or mocking the way they speak.
Any brand that decides to undertake a meme in their content marketing strategy can reap the (incredible) rewards if timed right, but need to be aware of the risks of alienating meme haters, and without proper research, turning a bad dad joke.
There are other options for targeting millennials, including honest, authentic user-generated content and inclusive campaigns. But with a generation not afraid to call it as it is and the continual rise of meme-culture, navigating the millennial marketing minefield with modern memes is something all marketers may have to endure for years to come.