Don’t Be Afraid of the Funny

dos equis meme is an example of humorous content marketingFrom Old Spice to Dos Equis, many of the marketing messages we remember and share on social media networks are outright humorous. According to a major, multinational study by the Journal of Marketing, humor is the one kind of marketing message that tends to stand out. Just so long as the content was appropriate and didn’t fall flat, humor aided product recall and influenced purchase decisions among consumers.

By being a little silly, weird or clever on your Twitter, you can achieve something that every marketer dreams of: build charisma and develop a following of people who want to hear what you have to say. That being said, it’s not easy to be funny.

When humor falls flat, it can be bad. Remember when Huggies received a lot of bad press in early summer 2012 for some television ads that poked a little too much fun at incompetent fathers? The first rule of experimenting with humor is to avoid making anyone angry. Being non-offensive isn’t enough, so here are a few reasons to examine how to get started with humor:

  • Should You Do Humor in the First Place? It’s well-known that certain brands can get away with a lot more jokes and memes than others. If you’re working in the financial planning industry, humor might not fly at all with your clientèle. Examine whether you’re hoping to entertain or just put a face behind your brand.
  • What are the demographics of your audience? Buyer personas have never mattered more than in the world of using humor to develop brand personality. In fact, demographics are the best starting point for understanding whether references to old Hollywood or viral social media memes are going to fly better.
  • Test it Out. Having a second pair of eyes scan your content marketing is always a best practice, but testing has never mattered more than while you’re preparing to distribute and promote your brand with funny content. Ask your coworkers to give honest opinions about the share ability and memorability of your attempts at humor.

Think of humor as a meeting point between your brand personality and your future clients. Before publishing on social media, ask yourself whether the content represents your company and is likely to resonate with your followers. Using awesome examples from around the web, we’ve compiled a list of several types of humor to get you started thinking about creating hilarious content.

Clever Language

Certain industries, like medical insurance and private security, have a much harder time using tasteful humor. That doesn’t mean you can’t humanize or use the original form of non-offensive humor, which is clever language and puns. In the example below, we have to commend Health Management Organization Kaiser Permanente for making light of a pretty serious topic:

clever language and puns are the least offensive form of humor

The content isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s sharp and it really conveys their message.

Pop Culture References

When leveraged correctly, pop culture references are like an instantaneous inside joke. The trick is understanding your market’s demographics and picking television, music or film references with immediate or near-instant recognition. A much-lauded example of a brand using pop-culture references well was Impact Branding and Design’s reference to popular television show The Office:

pop culture references can do well

May We Suggest Memejacking?

Feeling a little unsure whether a reference to reality television or hip hop culture could fly or fall flat among your Facebook fans? A great alternative can be memejacking, a term coined to describe the very modern concept of hijacking viral content and adding your own brand message. By borrowing established concepts that have already spread across Facebook, it gives your content a lot better chance of doing well among social media-savvy followers. Here’s a inbound marketing-related example of memejacking we love:

willy wonka is interested in social media

Superimposing your humorous brand message over widespread images of Willy Wonka or Keyboard Cat won’t only save some time, it creates a base that your fans can instantly connect with and share.

Make Light of Their Pain

We’re not saying you should make your fans feel even a little uncomfortable, but chances are that your Twitter followers and website visitors all have something in common, which is known to marketers as a pain point. It’s an issue or need that visitors are trying to meet with a product or service solution. In the most basic sense, a restaurant solves their guests’ pain point of being hungry. Humor only works if it’s relevant, and pain points can be a great way to meet your social media followers on common ground:

old spice addresses their marketing pain points

One of Old Spice’s recent marketing efforts, shown above, didn’t beat around the bush. They addressed the exact purpose of their products in a way that was at least a little humorous.

Have you come across any hilarious marketing recently? Share the wealth in the comments!