Piping Hot Content Humor
Top content marketing chefs know that great content marketing is all about providing delicious value for your current and potential customers. Savvy marketers mix up ongoing batches of blogs, videos, white papers, infographics, or even podcasts to provide that constant value. So how and where can humor fit into all that content? And should your brand even try its hand at being funny?
When used right, humor can be an amazing way to connect with your audience. As Hubspot’s Kim Speier writes, “Humor is a way to sell your brand without outwardly selling something, and consumers certainly don’t want to feel like you’re taking money right out of their pockets. By appealing to a consumer’s emotions, you’re able to engage them and make them remember you.” (https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/7-boring-big-brands-that-used-humor-to-amp-up-their-marketing#sm.00002rl7rj6o8e37pe02fs8edc1zz) Humor can be infused into just about every piece of content you create through the tone and style of your writing. Or you might have periodic pieces that are just dedicated to something utterly hilarious. In general, though, it’s better to have on-brand, on-point humor rather than stuff totally unrelated to your brand. As Marketing Technologist, Speaker, Author, (and much more) Travis Wright (https://twitter.com/teedubya) says, “Don’t make your content strategy all cat memes and jokes and random pictures because that’s what people like. But interjecting relevant content, mixing in a bit of humor, that works better than just saying ‘here’s a funny cat picture.’” (https://insights.newscred.com/comedy-content-marketing-a-qa-with-marketing-technologist-travis-wright/). Humor takes all kinds of forms, too—sarcasm, wittiness, banality, bad puns, edgy kick-you-in-the-balls humor. You have a smorgasbord of humor infused ingredients to choose from.
Check out, for example, four brands totally killing it in the humor department:
- The toilet paper company Charmin’s funny (and on-brand) tweets:
“That awkward moment when you use the work bathroom and the seat is warm. #shudder #tweetfromtheseat” — Charmin (@Charmin) October 7, 2015
“Charmin Ultra Strong’s washcloth-like texture is great for keeping your “driveway” clean this winter.” – Charmin on Monday, January 11, 2016
- Or how about fast-food chain Wendy’s tweets:
“If you’ve got four bucks, you’ve got the 4 for $4 Meal. Take that, economy. pic.twitter.com/v8kmWW5E5l” — Wendy's (@Wendys) October 12, 2015
“PDA is perfectly acceptable today #KissAGingerDay” — Posted by Wendy's on Tuesday, January 12, 2016
- Or take the not-so-interesting shaving industry. In 2012 The DollarShaveClub.com rocked the shaving world with their creatively funny YouTube video that helped explode their business into a success. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI Humor (and great execution) just helped them get acquired for $1 Billion by Unilever! (https://hbr.org/2016/07/unilevers-big-strategic-bet-on-the-dollar-shave-club)
- Here at Total BS Media humor is also a bit of a thing for us. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we throw creativity (and humor where applicable) into just about every dish of marketing genius we whip up for our amazing clients, and our Ph.D.’s in humor marketing cookery also help. For instance, a few months ago we gave a presentation to 1 Million Cups Bozeman. (http://www.totalbsmedia.com/tbs-blog/puppets-are-fun). Rather than stand and talk, we gave a spellbinding puppet show presentation where “Barb and Sheila” told the audience all about the wonders of Total BS Media. Critics raved. Audience members applauded. A new path for content marketing was paved by this darkhorse bozeman marketing agency. Humor not only helps us connect better with our clients but also makes our everyday company culture fun and engaging.
Humor Consumer Warning
Clearly, using humor in your brand content can be incredibly powerful. Your brand can become a beacon of LOL hope in a land of mediocrity and boredom. Just remember, though: humor can also be dangerous if used wrong. Humor is a lot like fresh garlic: it’s a delicious ingredient until someone puts it on your Neapolitan ice-cream. “It is important,” says Travis Wright (https://twitter.com/teedubya), “for marketers and bloggers to interject comedy into their marketing if that’s in your brand voice. So, if you’re a funeral home, you probably don’t want to be cracking jokes like, ‘We put the ‘fun’ in FUNeral home!’” (https://insights.newscred.com/comedy-content-marketing-a-qa-with-marketing-technologist-travis-wright/).
When your brand-humor-soufflé suddenly becomes a steaming pile of flaming shit, you’re going to have a bad day. Humor in your content marketing needs to make sense for your brand and the context. When in doubt about your humor skills, leave it out. Make sure you do your research on where and how you post your content on social media, too. It’s not just about what you say; how and where you say it are also important. Case in point: brands using Twitter hashtags that end up being so bad you’ll cringe, laugh, then cry.
Here’s John Oliver from HBO's Last Week Tonight reporting on how some brands have crashed and burned on their attempts to use humor in the wrong places and wrong times:
As John Oliver reports, The Twitter hashtag #WhyIStayed was being used by victims of domestic violence as a way to share their story and give support to one another. Then DiGiorno Pizza tried to be funny and did this: “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Trying to be witty and “relevant” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Popchips tweeted that MLK was an “eternal poptimist #mlk”. Bottom-line, be careful where and how your brand tries to be funny and witty. Be funny but be wise. And as a general rule, stay away from religious, racial, or political jokes.
If your brand ever does make a humor blunder, though, the most important thing to do is take ownership of it. “A lot of people will immediately delete it and act like it didn’t happen,” says Travis Wright (https://twitter.com/teedubya), “and then this huge storm starts bubbling up and people are irate and you just gotta address it, man up, and take it on the chin, and then just move on.” When your brand makes a mistake, don’t make excuses or run and hide. Honesty and authenticity will win the day and help you and your customers move forward.
So next time you’re in your content marketing kitchen slicing, dicing and baking up some delicious content marketing dishes, don’t forget to throw in a healthy dose of (appropriate) humor to spice up the dish. Hell, it might even help you get acquired for $1 Billion. Keep at it, peeps! We’re here to help.