As marketers, our goal is to help people make decisions that make their lives better. But too often, we fall into the cycle of “let me tell you all about me!” and fall short when it comes to engaging with our consumers. Especially on social media.
Customers are the heroes. We’re just here to help them along the way. Many times, that help comes by way of social media engagement.
No one is scrolling social media to have a bad time. Folks are often bored and looking for entertaining content, whether from friends or brands they follow. This is where we bring in our good friend: humor.
Why use humor for social media engagement?
People like to laugh
The Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice reported a survey and content analysis of 2,911 videos that revealed an attitude favorability toward humor over serious entertainment. That’s why folks who don’t enjoy sportsball tune into The Big Game every year—for the commercials.
Humor gets attention and drives likability
Adding humor to an advertising campaign is a way for organizations to make an emotional connection with consumers. Comedic elements weaved into writing give your brand a voice otherwise lost in business jargon and stuffy infographics.
Comedy can convert to sales
According to a 1993 Journal of Marketing study that examined multinational effects of humor on advertising (a study that still stands true), the major conclusion was that “humor is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention…” We already knew that, because we’re hilarious and people like us, but we like to link things to look legit.
Use comedy tactics in your social copy
There are some simple writing ingredients that help convey a funny idea. Have fun and switch up your approach, but here are things that help us rein in our thoughts:
Use the “Rule of Threes”
This is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers. Think “a redhead, a blonde, and a brunette…” or “a salesperson, a graphic designer, and a copywriter walk into a bar…” You get the idea. Most classic jokes are set up with three characters, situations, or examples. This helps create rhythm, pattern, and escalation.
Don’t sandwich your punchline
Back to the rule of threes… but you want to end on funny. When writing or giving a speech, people remember the first and last thing you say. Make it count. Ending on your joke gives your audience a breath to enjoy.
Cut the fat
In a world of Twitter limits and TL;DR (too long; didn’t read), we’re juggling our message and short attention spans. So, you gotta’ get to the heckin’ point! Reminiscing on the infamous Geico commercials: “It’s so easy to use geico.com, a caveman can do it.” Geico served their message while getting laughs.
Use the element of surprise
In that very first Geico commercial that aired, we watched a man in a suit and tie talk to us about insurance. We had no idea the cameraman was a caveman who was going to be deeply offended by the script. He throws down his equipment and leaves. It’s funny! Geico caught us by surprise, established a character, and became a talking point in advertising… all while selling insurance.
Build consistency and a relationship with callbacks
This is a great way to come back to a previous statement or known situation. After Geico established the character of the caveman, it was easy to write more stories around him. This tactic builds trust and likeability with your audience.
Connect with your audience
Instead of talking AT them, start a conversation with them. Humor is a great way to humanize your message. Instead of “blah blah blah” from Big Box Store, create and produce content you would want to read or watch. Be grateful to have your audience’s attention and don’t waste their time. Just like stand-up comics, if you’re “bombing” recognize that and pivot. Check your engagement on posts. Some may be doing better than others. Lean into what’s working.
Acknowledge the hecklers
In comedy, there’s always that drunk guy in the back of the room who wants to yell something in the middle of your set. As a pro, you can’t let this derail you from your story. The show must go on. However, you need to play off what just happened. In marketing, this can come up in negative reviews or nasty feedback in your comments section. We believe it’s best to address those, too. Shut down the situation the best you can (humor is helpful!) and privately message or reach out to your internet troll with a gameplan to fix their grievance.
Remember your “Tight Five”
On stage, we reference the “tight five.” In business, we call it an elevator pitch. In essence, it’s your MO, your go-to, your tried and true. Stay on-brand, work with what you know, and know what works. Introduce as much personality as you can while keeping your message concise. This will eventually become your story, the bit that defines you and your brand, and the way you introduce yourself to the world.
Think beyond social media
Now that you’re groomed to be the funniest clown at the party, let’s talk about how you can utilize these tips in social, blogs, e-newsletters, and ads.
Get Gif-y with it
Giphy.com has about a billion gifs to choose from. From movies, commercials, TV shows, you name it. .Gifs are a way to engage with your audience and stay relevant without producing your own video.
Example Facebook post: You’re not using humor in social posts!?
(That little diddy is from the blockbuster hit Mean Girls. If you don’t get the reference, you’re not my audience and I’m going to quickly pivot…)
Let your hair down a little
If you’re sharing the same daily restaurant promotions… daily… add something to spice up your post.
Example Twitter post:
Mention a friend who might turn into a lonely cat lady if she doesn’t come out to ladies night at XYZ bar! Free entry, half-off drinks, and social interaction with ACTUAL humans await you! #catlady
Look for creative opportunities to incorporate humor
There are little ways to plant funny easter eggs in all of your writing. From homepages, to unsubscribe texts, to package design and even 404 pages.
Example “Thank you for subscribing” copy:
Hey! Thanks for subscribing to Peanut Allergens Are All Around Us DOT COM.
April Fools! You subscribed to Big Sea. Get ready to have your socks rocked with the most business-boosting marketing content delivered right to your inbox! We’re glad we’re friends. Brunch Sunday? Mani-pedis after? Too soon? Okay… we’ll catch you on the flipside.