I’m struck by how laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy. – John Cleese
Humor is one of life’s greatest gifts. It adds spice to the everyday push and pull and prevents us from taking it too seriously.
How does humor factor into small business marketing strategies?
Although the online community may differ from face-to-face interactions, the basic essentials continue to be important: ethics, value and humor. As Cleese says, laughter connects people; therefore using it to build a brand is vital. People are more likely to become emotionally attached and want to share the things that make them laugh. And let’s face it – funny jokes are both refreshing and necessary.
However, providing humorous content is not as simple as it sounds and requires a strategy of its own.
In the beginning.
Adding humor to the streams of Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest can be tricky. It may not be difficult to make friends laugh, but making customers laugh is another task entirely.
It is best to start by answering these questions: Who is the target audience and what makes them laugh?
Social media players Kevin Kelly, owner of K2 Marketing, and Robert Caruso, inventor and owner of Bundlepost, both agree a brand’s top priority is to share humor that relates to the business’ target audience.
Sticking to humorous posts that appeal to your target audience is key to building a relationship and not offending anyone. A primarily female demographic will not be excited about hunting jokes, nor would a male crowd enjoy lots of cute animal memes.
What to avoid.
It is best to avoid the topics one does not discuss at a dinner party: politics, religion, sexual orientation, gender issues, race and sex. The other elephant in the room is anything disrespectful.
It is best to avoid these topics completely because a brand risks alienating the company from one part of the audience. Staying objective about viewpoints is key, but if the humor falls within the brand culture – go for it.
Pabst Canada tweeted about a touchy subject recently, resulting in a serious lash back from followers. It was a photo saying, “No Fat Chicks!” Followers were irate. They tweeted an apology, but the damage was done.
Always post with purpose.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are considered the serious social networks because they give brands the most visibility. But Pinterest’s crowd is a bit more liberal – just don’t forget its mostly comprised of women.
To post, or not to post often?
It’s easy to be excited when fans and followers react to comical posts, but do not allow the humor to overcome the brand. Humor is best taken in random shots, a few sprinklings throughout the day.
It is important to maintain a sense of why the target audience followed your business to begin with. If humor becomes the main topic, they will become bored with regular posts about products or industry news.
Plus, the more often comical content is posted, the more likely it is that offensive material will slide in.
Is humor good for every industry type?
Humor is not necessarily an agreeable endeavor for every business type – it depends on who is managing it. Small businesses have the luxury of not needing to go through several channels to get an okay on a cartoon, but if you own a franchise or are somehow connected to a larger brand – exercising wisdom is important. Make sure to follow the company’s guidelines.
Heavily regulated industry types may not be the perfect fit, nor may healthcare and financial districts. It is easy to see how jokes referring to health and money could be considered insensitive.
But if you have a doctor’s office or a financial consulting firm and want to share something lighter, keep it rated G and appropriate for everyone. Stick to animal memes and/or jokes with a universal appeal.
How to hire someone with a business sense of humor.
If you are part of the growing number of small businesses hiring a social media strategist, sharing humor may be a concern. And it should be. Having anyone in control of promoting your brand online is a scary thought, but there are many people equipped for the job.
Make sure to consider these qualifications before hiring:
- They have a solid understanding of company culture and will translate it appropriately online.
- They are a likable person. May sound strange, but possessing a likable personality in-person often translates to the same online. Chances are they can handle humor better than someone who is unable to carry a conversation.
- They have relevant experience and can provide examples of the brands they managed and the way they used humor in other situations.
Humor is an incredible way to humanize a brand, create relationships within its community and have a good time. As Robert Caruso, Bundlepost said, “Humor breaks down barriers. We use humor that is targeted to our audience by making fun of the industry, ourselves and the various platforms.” Go lighten your brand up and make someone laugh!
What do you think about sharing humor in a social media marketing strategy?