Unless you’ve been under a rock this week, there’s no doubt you’ve seen U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on the “Friends” couch, in front of the “I Love Memphis” sign, chilling with the “Golden Girls,” at the table for the Last Supper, and just about everywhere else that he can be Photoshopped in. The world is, indeed, Feeling the Bern…ie memes.

Bernie’s “grumpy chic” Presidential Inauguration look – legs crossed, wearing a jacket, gloves, and a facemask, and giving off a generally unimpressed vibe – has spawned hundreds of thousands of memes. Who knew that, just by showing up to the Inauguration, he would go viral?

There are Bernie memes for every fandom, from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Schitt’s Creek,” from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” to “Star Wars.” It definitely helps that the memes are Bernie-approved. And, of course, brands are jumping on the trend.

It’s smart for brands to take advantage of the latest viral trend. When used correctly, these viral trends can give your brand a sense of humanity – it shows you have a sense of humor or, as in the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge, that you want to give back to the world. Of course, you can’t just go Photoshopping a senator anywhere – jumping on a trend or meme needs a bit of quick consideration before pushing the “send” button. Here are our tips for effectively joining a viral trend.

Bernie's Drag Race
Tell Me More, Bernie
  1. You gotta be quick!
    Viral trends come and go quickly, so it’s best to act as soon as you can. Don’t wait until everyone’s tired of seeing folks drench themselves in ice water or yet another sourdough starter. You don’t want to appear to be behind the curve, or only doing something for attention. Speaking of…
  2. Extra points if the trend makes sense for your brand
    Like in fashion, there are some memes, trends and challenges that go with everything. Bernie can be photoshopped anywhere, and just about every person or brand can take part in the 10 Year Challenge. However, don’t force a trend on your brand. If you have to explain it, it just doesn’t work. Don’t try too hard.
  3. Brainstorm!
    Before running with your hilarious new idea, ask a diverse group of team members for their thoughts. Some trends simply won’t mix with your brand (see above), and/or you don’t want to risk offending any section of your audience (remember, not everyone thought the Cheese Challenge was particularly funny). Plus, it always helps to get even more ideas from your team mates.
  4. Consider Your Platform
    Where will you share this potentially-viral piece of marketing genius? Consider the various platforms you have and what works best on each. Twitter’s perfect for a quick quip. Visual memes are best for Instagram and Facebook. Naturally, TikTok is where you’ll post your videos. If you’ve created something that’s truly special, it will get shared across all platforms at some point – but be smart about where your message begins.
  5. Look at Your Numbers
    Compare your meme’s engagement numbers to other posts. Did it go well? Did it totally flop? These numbers will give you cues on how to proceed with future trends. Listen to your audience.
Bernie on the Moon

Check out a few Memphis businesses who successfully created their own Bernie memes:

What’s your favorite Bernie meme?

Additional Reading:
How 4 Brands Successfully Capitalized on Viral Marketing Trends
Profanity in Marketing – Is it Effin’ Worth It?

What Baby Nut Can Teach You About Marketing