Viral Facebook memes have taken the world of social media by storm. It is possible to hop on Facebook on any given day and see your newsfeed dominated by the same comedic image from multiple friends. Whether it is purely innocent fun or a borderline cruel joke, memes create an immediate reaction in many social media users that results in posts, shares, likes, and even traffic to outside websites. If you’ve been considering using memes to generate followers on your Facebook account, and even convert them into visitors for your website, you need a few helpful tips.

In the following paragraphs, we’re going to discuss what a meme is, and offer you some helpful tips on creating a meme that is sure to go viral on Facebook.

What is a Meme?

We’ve all heard the term. You probably even have a few saved on your mobile devices so you can quickly share them with friends when the time is right during an online discussion or text conversation. But what exactly is a meme? According to Gizmodo, the first definition of a meme came from author Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene.” In the book, Dawkins described a meme as being “short for the Greek word mimeme, meaning ‘imitated thing.'”

In reality, a meme has changed in definition over the years. A meme doesn’t have to be a simple picture, although this is the most common form. Some of the very first memes date back, believe it or not, to the 1870s. A man named Harry Frees took photos of his pet cats and used them on greeting cards, complete with hilarious quotes along the bottom. Fast forward to the modern age, and the singing hamsters and dancing baby that cluttered email inboxes in the 1990s are also considered memes.

Generally speaking, a meme is an image that uses comedy people can relate to that is easily, and quickly, shared on social media platforms. So now that we know this, how can a viral meme be created for use on Facebook?

Consider Your Audience

Although negative content exists in memes, those which are offensive, irrelevant, or out of touch rarely take off on social media. You may see them get a few shares and an initial spike in popularity could occur, but in general they tend to perform poorly. Take the time to reflect on the media content that resonates with your current and prospective consumers and social followers. Draw inspiration for your memes from their interests, and use their problems to create humor that distracts them from the everyday issues.

Background Research

If you’re going to share a meme on your company Facebook page, it is critical that you put in the effort to conduct some background research. Which company or individual initially generated the meme? What is the true message conveyed in the meme? The last thing you want to do is go viral for the wrong reasons. If you share a meme on your business profile that offends your consumer base or opens you up to ridicule, you’ve made a big misstep. Having a hard time conducting background research? Try visiting KnowYourMeme.

Go with a Hot, Fresh Meme

Sharing your brand message through a meme that has been around for a while exposes you to two risks. First, it can simply come across as unoriginal and flop with your consumer base. Second, it could make you look out of touch altogether. A perfect example of this is the Condescending Willy Wonka meme. The image has been around for years already, and adding your brand message to it now makes you a late comer. Look to Reddit as a source of inspiration. The content shared by savvy Reddit users is often fresh and not popular just yet on larger social media sites like Facebook. This gives you the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

Keep Your Message in Line

Assuming that you select an image that has been used in previous memes, you need to ensure that you have chosen the proper meme for your branding message. Take the time to understand the original meme and its core uses among other Facebook users. If you simply attach your message to a meme without understanding the common usage of that particular image, you risk seeing your meme fall flat and being branded a “memejacking #fail.”

Get Everyone Involved

Not a marketing genius? Not the best when it comes to a play on words? That’s OK! It’s a great idea to get the office involved in the creation of your Facebook meme instead of trying to go it alone. There are two primary benefits to collaborating on meme generation. First, if you aren’t the office comedian or lack the social media know how required to generate the perfect wording, working with your coworkers is a great way to come up with the perfect message on your meme.

Second, there’s nothing wrong with having a second set of eyeballs look at the work before you hit “share.” Even if you are a talented wordsmith and believe you have a gem on your hands, let a few other people look it over before posting it to Facebook. The phrasing or content you’ve selected may have multiple meanings that you’re unaware of. Double checking with coworkers avoids any embarrassment.

Get to Work

If you’ve followed all of these steps, you’re ready to put the pieces together and create your meme to share with the world on Facebook. You don’t need to be an expert with Photoshop or even have a sophisticated graphic design software program in the office. There are countless online services that allow you to input images and text to create the meme of your dreams. MemeCrunch, MemeGenerator, and WeKnowMemes are all excellent resources for generating a meme for you Facebook account.

Now that we’ve shared all of these tips for creating a meme, you’re ready to attach your brand message to a meme that is sure to go viral.