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A Guide to Using Memes, GIFs and Emojis on Social Media

Posted by Liz Schulte on 4/16/18 5:30 AM
Topics: college social media, college store memes, increase interaction

Memes, GIFs and emojis are the language of Generation Z. Entire conversations can be had without typing a single word, attitudes can be conveyed and understood in seconds, and emotions can be shared without vulnerability. While your college store wants to speak directly to students, it is easy for your message to go astray. That’s why we have created this helpful guide to increase your store’s image fluency.

A Guide to Using Memes, GIFs and Emojis on Social MediaHow college stores can use memes in marketing

Emojis, for example, are a great way to increase your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook reach, but often the meaning isn’t straight forward. What images represent can evolve rapidly.  Because of this, it’s hard for businesses to keep up with the nonverbal communication favored by this digitally native group. You don’t want to come across as disingenuous or to inadvertently use an image you don’t fully understand, but you do want the benefits that can come with their use.

That’s why we created this handy guide for increasing your social media post engagement with memes, GIFs and emojis.


Memes are the language of social media. These images are best thought of as inside jokes. Like an inside joke, not everyone will always get it — which makes them tricky to use in a marketing context if you are trying to reach a large, diverse audience. Different memes may target different age groups, but mostly they speak to a younger audience. As a college store, the inclusion of some memes on your social media platforms could help your page gain interactions and lighten the tone.

Marketing memes for college stores

Check out these helpful tips for using memes:

Know your audience — This tip is pretty much essential for all social media usage. You need to become an expert on your audience and what they like. Sure, they are individuals with different interests, but find similarities that connect them.

Stay current — Popular memes change all the time, even daily. The most effective meme use is while people still find it funny or interesting. Using a meme that is past its metaphorical expiration date is the equivalent of parents misusing slang when talking to their children.   

Get the right tone — Memes are meant to be silly and funny. Before you adopt a popular meme for your store, make sure you get the original joke. Changing the tone of the meme can backfire.

Keep your brand in mind — This is key for a business. Your brand is who you are. Don’t use memes that would go against your store’s branding. Not all funny or popular memes will fit with the image your store represents.

A guide to adding GIFs to college store marketing


GIFs aren’t new, but they are extremely popular with millennials and Generation Z. They are also a great way to deliver a marketing message in a fresh and easily consumable way. Students use GIFs to show their feelings or attitude about something in a funny and safe way. Because of the popularity of the format, GIFs can catch a student’s eye better than a static image.

Check out these helpful tips for using GIFs:

Tell a story — Part of marketing is storytelling. Stories are a simple way to show a customer why your message matters and how it is relevant to them. However, the short attention span of customers can make the story hard to deliver. GIFs are a fast way to use images to convey your marketing story.

Be visually appealing — Creating GIFs take a little more time. Make sure you are using images that are memorable, represent your brand and are of high enough quality to get the most out of the extra time you put into the marketing effort.

Set the tone — Students already use GIFs as a way to convey feelings or emotions. When you are creating an advertisement, consider what feeling you want to evoke. Perhaps, you have a sale on game day apparel. A GIF that celebrates school pride could be a fun way to promote that sale. 

A guide to adding GIFs to college store marketing


Emojis can be simple, humanizing and easy to include on social media. However, to avoid faux pas, it is important to know if an emoji carries a not-so-obvious meaning to college students. Before adding emojis to your social media marketing, do a quick search online. Once you are secure in the meaning of the image, use one to help increase your post reach and engagement.

Check out these helpful tips for using emojis:

Integrate emojis — There are many ways you can use an emoji. Try to go beyond simply adding them to the end of a post. Where it makes sense and won’t cause confusion, add them into your message in the place of words. However, don’t do this at the expense of message clarity.

College store marketing meme

Get creative — Have some fun with emojis when the situation is right. In celebration of the Fourth of July, Bud Light tweeted an image made entirely of different emojis. Not only did it appeal to their audience, but it was also creative enough to inspire sharing.

Keep tone in mind — For the most part, emojis are intended to lighten the tone. Don’t use them when seriousness is most appropriate. Set some parameters for when it makes sense to use them and when it is best to avoid their use.

Adding memes, GIFs and emojis to your social media routine can help humanize the store and speak more directly to your students. Students are a great resource for what is most popular on social media right now with their peers. Talk to your student employees or create a marketing intern position in the store that would give a student real-world marketing experience and bring new promotional ideas to your store.


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