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The YouTube™ video that “goes viral,” the Facebook status that gets reposted a million different times, a catchphrase that originates somewhere in the Twittersphere and just won’t go away—these are all examples of the Internet sensation known as a meme.An Internet meme is essentially any idea or scrap of content that spreads voluntarily from person to person across the Web. If it sounds silly, it’s because it is.

Memes are Internet fun, a brief distraction from the more serious business of daily life. What’s more, memes utilize social media channels—channels that by their very nature are fun, engaging and timely. It’s no wonder that some marketers often don’t think of memes in connection with a “serious” nonprofit organization. That, however, is not to say they shouldn’t.

On the contrary, the occasional well-chosen meme can actually play a useful role in your nonprofit’s online communication. Consider what memes have to offer:

  1. Memes can be tools for your supporters to promote your nonprofit on your behalf.
    There are quite a few cause-related memes that helped drive awareness of a cause and visibility for a nonprofit, with little to no effort on the nonprofit’s end. The fun thing about memes is that your audiences have a chance to get involved and champion with you.The Frozen Pea Fund is a nonprofit that actually got its start from an Internet meme inspired by a woman who used a bag of frozen peas as a makeshift ice-pack post breast cancer surgery. The woman, Susan Reynolds, snapped a picture of the peas tucked in her bra and posted it to Twitter™. It wasn’t long before her Twitter followers joined in an expression of solidarity and began posting their own frozen pea photos. Reynolds quickly recognized the potential for something great, and began asking people to not just change their Twitter avatars, but to donate money to breast cancer research.

Consider starting a photo meme similar to this one, but further promote your brand by including a branded item, like a Mooseez Animal or a cap, in the original photo and send this item to others for their posts, too.

  1. Memes can increase visibility.
    If a meme is created thoughtfully, there will be a connection between the meme and your organization or cause. Which means that as it spreads, so too will visibility of your message. Additionally, some blog, Twitter and Facebook memes call for “tagging” others to participate and each post becomes part of a web of links connecting many around a single topic.

Further prompt the spread of your meme by offering a small incentive to those who are willing to repost or participate—enter them to win fun, logo’d prizes like T-Shirts or a Folding Chair.

  1. Memes can put a personal face on your organization.
    Your nonprofit may have a blog, but does its blog have a face? Internet memes, like the ones that aim to share facts on and insight from the blogger on a personal level—can help to humanize your content. Readers are often more likely to engage with a blog when they feel as if they know who is behind the curtain—memes are a great way to do this every so often. Just be sure to use a meme professionally and with your nonprofit’s mission in mind.

Integrate memes into other marketing efforts to further tie your nonprofit’s communication channels together. Include a Twitter hashtag on direct mail pieces or on swag items like pens or scratch pads.

  1. Memes can inspire your blogging.
    No matter how passionate you are about your organization’s mission and using social media to connect people with its message, writer’s block happens to the best of us. Memes are great at offering inspiration to spark your next great post. Keep an eye out for interesting memes as you visit other blogs or check sites like The Daily Meme or Tweetmeme often for ideas on what others are talking about or for memes that could act as a writing prompt.

Internet memes are a fun way for your organization to spread the word about its mission while engaging and interacting with community members. Brainstorm a thoughtful meme and you’re sure to see it grow your visibility today.

“Peas On Earth? | MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog.” MarketingProfs Daily Fix. Web. 01 Oct. 2010.

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