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How to Use Humor to Amplify Your Message, and What to Avoid

Written by Zachary Chastain  ()
on September 18, 2012 ·

When used properly, humor can be a powerful tool for interacting with your communities, gaining some attention, and amplifying your message. However, when used improperly, it could just as easily make you appear unprofessional or even blow up in your face, damaging your brand and your career. People love to laugh, and humorous content is always shared frequently on Facebook (or any social network). It's a great way to amplify your message, reach new potential fans, and create truly viral posts! First, let's talk about how you should use humor.

  1. All good things in moderation. You don't want to over do it. Unless the entire point of your page is to make people laugh, you probably have some business goals that you need to achieve. Infuse a bit of humor into your posts occasionally to help you reach those goals, or as a light-hearted breather between campaigns.
  2. Keep it relevant. The best humor is going to be something that ties in with your brand, your message, or your usual content. If you're a consumer product or a service-based business, a political joke is not only far from what your fans expect from you, but could also upset or alienate some of those fans. Find a funny photo that you can tie in with your brand, product, or service. You could also ask fans to share their funny stories about your brand. Perhaps even make a fun campaign out of it with a simple prize for the best stories.
  3. Provide value. You know you've really struck gold when you've found a way to not only make your fans laugh (and share!), but to tie in a valuable message that can help them at the same time. It can take some careful planning and a bit of experimenting, but you will love the results if you can nail this. People love to share things that make them laugh, and if your funny content is also useful, then that's twice as many reasons to share it with their friends!
  4. Have fun with your fans. Your use of humor doesn't just have to be about content strategy. Sometimes your fans may post something strange or funny in its own right. Instead of ignoring these posts, joke right back with them! They'll be pleasantly surprised, and it will be fun for you to mix things up a bit too. Just remember to use your best judgement and don't cross any lines so you don't offend your fans.

When done correctly, humor can help you amplify your reach and interactions by creating content people will want to share. This post is one we created for a client. This single post has more people talking about it on Facebook than two major competitor's entire Facebook pages combined!

 

The goal of properly leveraging humor is to get people talking about your brand. Of course, you don't want them talking about you for the wrong reasons, so here are a few things to avoid.

  • Keep it clean. Not everyone's skin is as thick as yours, some people are easily offended. Keep this in mind when you're thinking about how you'll use humor in your posts.

 

 

While some may find the above tweet funny, and it certainly will get attention, it simply wasn't worth it for the agency employee who posted it. He lost his job, and the agency that employed him lost their client.

That's not to say that you can't comment on current events, just do it tastefully, and certainly don't try to capitalize on them. In the scope of this discussion, it's not something you want to approach in order to amplify your message.

  • Don't be insensitive. Whether you're speaking directly to a customer or are posting to a social channel, don't post anything that is needlessly hurtful, such as blowing off a fan's troubles or concerns with a sarcastic response. There can certainly be a time for some light humor to improve a support experience, but keep in mind that if the joke is at their expense or makes light of a problem they've had a lot of difficulty in getting resolved, it's probably best to keep it to yourself. As always, use your best judgment, or if you lack the judgment that comes with experience, get a second opinion. And then there's this...

The above tweet comes from the Twitter account of James Andrews, a Vice President at Ketchum, and it references his visit to Memphis, TN, where he was to present to a key client, FedEx, which is headquartered in the city. Before the presentation, the tweet ended up in the hands of a VP at FedEx, who was understandably upset. The tweet may have gotten some chuckles from Mr. Andrew's followers, but it probably wasn't worth getting a scathing email from a top client, which also happened to be copied to his bosses and some of FedEx's top brass as well.

 

If you follow these simple tips on the do and do not's of mixing some humor into your content then you should be well on your way to driving more shares, reaching new fans and followers, and creating some "buzz" about your brand. Do you have any tips of your own, or want to expand on some of my tips with additional examples? If so, please share them with us in the comments below!

 

 

Topics: Community Management

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