More and more brands are attempting to spruce up their content marketing campaigns with humor – and we are not just talking about B2C brands.
B2B companies are beginning to understand that the people they’re selling to are just that: people. They love a good laugh as much as anyone else, and they’re more likely to remember content that they find helpful, interesting, or funny.
That said, brands are using humor with varying degrees of success. Some manage to break through and achieve much-coveted viral status. Others miss the mark and, in some cases, face significant backlash and PR challenges.
When it’s done right, humor is a perfect tool to garner more brand awareness. According to a study by Nielsen, audiences in Europe and North America respond the most favorably to humor in advertisements, at 51% and 50%, respectively.
The funny thing about discussing humor is that discussing humor isn’t funny at all. Still, it is worth discussing. If you’ve ever laughed out loud at a humorous advertisement, you don’t need statistics to know its value.
In the end, producing humorous content that works is all about trust and persuasion. If you can earn the trust of your audience – that is, if you can get them in on the joke – you can only make your content marketing efforts more effective.
What Are the Benefits of Humor in Marketing?
Humor is a universal language that has existed as a part of human communication for longer than we even know. But since the advent of the internet, humor has taken on a permanent role in our lives. Within seconds, we can get online and watch funny videos, share a meme that we find amusing, or read a story that makes us laugh.
There are tangible and intangible benefits to using humor in marketing. On the tangible side, a funny piece of content may give you a clear increase in your reach and lead generation metrics. On the intangible side, standing out as a humorous, down-to-earth brand can do wonders for your overall brand recognition.
Here are a few of the benefits you should be aware of:
Humor Triggers an Emotional Response
If you’ve studied rhetoric – the art of using language to convince or persuade – you may remember Aristotle’s three persuasive appeals: logos, ethos and pathos.
Logos represents the logic behind an argument, ethos represents an appeal to the audience’s character or their societal values, and pathos represents an appeal to their emotions. Many brands use pathos in their advertisements to move their audience (sometimes to tears), but many also use pathos for a different effect: to make their audience laugh.
When you trigger an emotional response in your audience, your content diverges from the commonplace into something extraordinary and meaningful. This increases the chances that your audience will share your content, comment on it, and – most importantly – act on it.
Humor Makes Your Brand More Memorable
When you think back to your childhood, what do you remember most? You may remember a fun family outing, playing in your room, or a loving moment between you and your parents.
Our minds form lasting memories when they are inundated with both positive and negative feelings. This is also when we are more apt to pay attention. If we find something funny, moving, or inspiring, we tend to block out all else and focus on that thing.
If you can use humor successfully in your content marketing plan, your audience will be more likely to remember your brand. And if they enjoy that humorous content, it might even stick with your audience for months and years after they engage with it.
Humor Makes Your Brand More Human
Often, people can’t help but consider businesses to be soulless entities – especially large corporations. Using humor in your marketing reminds your audience that your company is staffed by human beings like them, each with his or her own style and sense of humor.
Self-deprecating humor, or poking fun at oneself, is one of the best ways to connect with your audience and help them identify with you. No business is perfect. But sometimes revealing that is the perfect way to be more transparent with your customers and create an emotional reaction.
Taking the opposite approach – poking fun at your audience – is almost always a bad idea. Comedians may be able to make fun of their audience successfully, but that’s what the audience expects. Your audience will expect your brand to take them seriously, even if you’re using humor in your marketing.
Humor Gives You a Better Chance of Going Viral
Marketers would love it if there were a formula for going viral. Unfortunately, it’s often a result of perfect timing, inspiration, and the right conditions.
That said, there are a few characteristics inherent in every piece of viral content. Viral content is always unique, powerful, easy to consume, and able to evoke a strong emotional response.
When Should You Use Humor in Content Marketing?
Humor can’t be forced. As much as you’d like to sit down with your content team for half an hour and create the joke of the month, that type of strategy doesn’t always bear fruit unless you have professional comedy writers at hand.
Instead, look for moments of inspiration during the content creation process, then do an analysis of whether humor will be the right fit for the context. For example, if you’re drafting a high-level report for executives to read, humor might not be the best fit. But, if you’re writing a blog post, recording a video, or posting to social media, humor might be right at home.
The trick is to know your audience. If you’ve developed buyer personas, make a note about which ones would appreciate humor the most. Then, draft every piece of content with one of your buyer personas in mind.
Be Smart About Using Humor
Humor is a powerful tool, but it can also go wrong. What some people consider funny, others may consider offensive or disrespectful.
Tasteless humor, bad timing, and humor that doesn’t line up with your brand image can all have very negative consequences.
Just a single social media post could cause your company weeks or months of fallout and negative attention if it offends your audience. Don’t post memes to social media unless you have a full understanding of what they mean.
As an example, Wendy’s Twitter handle is widely loved for its off-the-cuff responses to fans. But in 2017, someone controlling the account accidentally shared a racist meme because they didn’t understand its context.
Remember: once something goes live online, there’s no way to take it down (at least not completely). If you posted a joke that went awry, your audience will be able to find it years down the line. Be sure to carefully vet all of your humorous content before it goes live.
If you’re careful and smart about it, you can use humor organically in your content marketing to build brand recognition and get more traction on your content.
Let us know your thoughts on using humor in your content and marketing campaigns in the comments section below.
If you need help developing content give us a shout at [email protected] and we would be delighted to discuss custom content marketing strategies for your brand.