Social Media and Using Advocacy Through Awareness/Causes and Memes

By: Katherine W. Morse, June 23, 2019

Social media has become the place for the phenomenon of the meme.  Some may not be familiar with what a meme is.  According to the Google Dictionary, here is the

noun: meme; plural noun: memes

  1. An element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means, especially imitation.
  2. A humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=meme+definition&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS787US787&oq=meme+de&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.4423j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

            Great use of memes that take over the internet, especially during October are ones having to do with breast cancer.  It is one of the many causes that are close to people’s hearts and speaks intimately to individual life experiences or identity (Mahoney & Tang, 2017, p. 71).  Social media has allowed for a broader and boarder audience to share thoughts, feelings, and posts from friends, family, and coworkers. 

            “Each October, various individuals, businesses, and organizations celebrate National Brest Cancer Awareness Month.  Generally, this is a cause that most individuals don’t mind participating in and sharing with their social network (Mahoney & Tang, 2017, p. 72).”  Breast cancer can affect both men and women.  It is a cause that many either have been directly affected by or know someone that has.  In fact, in the United States, about 1 in 8, about 12%, will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, and in 2019 it was estimated that there would be 268,600 new cases diagnosed with 62,930 cases of non-invasive breast cancer (Brestcaner.org, 2019).

            As a brand that sells products or services, why should your company patriciate?  Keep in mind; every month has awareness campaigns that go from cancers, mental health, foster care to supporting veterans.  “Getting involved with an awareness campaign can be a great way to spur customer spending and attract new customers. Clients like knowing that the companies they support also support the issues they care about (Lesonsky, 2018).”  Creating a meme or memes that your consumers can react to and share will build and strengthen the social community relationship that the company has.  In essence, it helps the personality and humanization of the brand through the social media presence. 

            Memes allow for successful diffusion of a message while getting individuals to participate in creating engagement, and at the same time, they feel good about spreading awareness to a cause that they are passionate about (Mahoney & Tang, 2017, p. 72).  While looking on the social media feed, no matter what the platform is that you are using, you might have come across somecards, a company launch in 2006 as a way to voice uniquely through an ecard, electronic card, and now is one of the most widely shared humor brands on the web (someecards, n/d).  Here is a couple of examples from their website, https://www.someecards.com/memes/breast-cancer-awareness/, of popular memes about breast cancer and breast cancer awareness.

            It comes down to understanding the audience that your business has.  Having that significant social impact “[b]ut simply making a statement is no longer enough if you want Gen Z to pay attention and care about your brand. (And you should – Gen Z will comprise more than 40% of all consumers in the next two years.) (Ferguson, 2018).” Understanding the generational cohorts are defined by birth year, not the current age (Kasasa, 2019).  The screenshot below comes from Kasasa (2019) at https://communityrising.kasasa.com/gen-x-gen-y-gen-z/ to show the birth years of the generations to help you better understand the brand audience.

            “Most organizations would benefit more from messages that were tied to practical, real-life mobilization efforts (Mahoney & Tang, 2017, p. 73).”  Competitor analysis and social listening can help find causes like breast cancer awareness that suit the brand with its philanthropy, community involvement, and building the relationship with the customers through causes that they support.  “Brands like Patagonia and The Body Shop have been successfully galvanizing and activating their consumer communities for years around the issues they champion (Ferguson, 2018).”  It is okay to look at, follow, and see how other companies that are similar to causes that reflect the brand use social media through content and memes.  It is through action-oriented approaches that a company can transform the message to the audience into something interesting, creating knowledge that can be educational while at the same time allowing the customer to become an advocated for a cause (Mahoney & Tang, 2017, p. 73) like breast cancer awareness.

Below are only a few links to sites that will give you dates and months for causes and awareness:

Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/teen-angst/201901/making-difference-in-2019-awareness-calendar

Motivators: https://www.motivators.com/awareness-event-calendar.html

US Awareness Days:  https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/category/us/

References:

Breastcancer.org. (2019).  U.S. Breast Cancer Statisticshttps://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

Ferguson, M. (2018). Beyond Awareness, Successful Social Impact Brands Do These 4 Things.  Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/meredithferguson1/2018/04/30/beyond-awareness-successful-social-impact-brands-do-these-4-things/#464b30cd34ac

Kasasa. (2019). Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z Explained. https://communityrising.kasasa.com/gen-x-gen-y-gen-z/

Lesonsky, R. (2018).  Should Your Business Get Involved in an Awareness Campaign?  U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA.  https://www.sba.gov/blog/should-your-business-get-involved-awareness-campaign

Mahoney, L., & Tang, T. (2017). Chapter 18: Social Media for Social Behavior Change. In Strategic Social Media from Marketing to Social Change (p. 71-73). Malden, MA: Wiley.

Someecards. (n/d). About. https://www.someecards.com/page/about

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