When brands create content for their audience, the goal is to trigger a response. This response is most useful to them when there is an emotion involved in it. One such emotion is joy; a joy which is created through humour.
But humour is subjective. What makes one set of people laugh may leave others confused, sometimes even angry.
So focusing your content’s success entirely on the execution of a joke can be risky. But a balanced sense of humour can help you in creating a winning strategy.
Why humour works?
Your audience is bombarded with a lot of content, both online and offline. And a large chunk of that content is promotional. So it is natural that they want to escape anything that comes across as advertisement centric.
This is when humour catches them off-guard. A good joke can break the monotony of information overload and breathe life into your content.
The effectiveness of humour explained
Humour can work effectively because it has the potential to increase shareability of content. For that to happen, it is important to create something which is relatable.
The ability of humour to sell is largely dependent on its engagement quotient. If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy. And in cases where humour doesn’t initiate a purchase, it does help you in making yourself memorable.
Here are a few ways to infuse humour into your content:
Identify your demographic and approach them with appropriate content
The appeal of any content piece varies with the kind of audience you are targeting. This appeal is governed by a number of factors such as age, gender, location etc.
For instance, memes may not be so relevant for baby boomers but they effectively engage younger generations.
So the content type you are incorporating should also depend on your audience’s preferences.
Additionally, the context should also be relevant. Let’s say you are targeting people belonging to the 90’s group. Here you can trigger hilarity by bringing nostalgia into the picture through a movie or tv series or a product that is relevant to their generation. But you cannot do the same for the comparatively younger demographic.
Before walking down the humour lane, study your audience’s interests, their likes and dislikes. Approach them with humour that seems most relevant and appropriate to them. Also, categorise your audience into different groups, depending on age, gender etc. before you work out your strategy.
Present humour visually
When you watch a stand-up comedy, you will notice that the quality of humour is enhanced through body language and/or auditory variations.
This also holds true for your content. A textual joke, in isolation, may not leave the same impact as one with a supporting visual. So focus on presenting humour visually. Try gifs or memes.
Think of it as a method to create quick appeal. Since visuals are processed faster than text, you can grab attention more easily. And it is much more significant here because a joke can be good, but it can fall flat especially when it is long. This is when visuals can help you consolidate the story and make it more comical.
Humour, when accompanied by a visual, enhances the comic vibe because it grabs attention more quickly than text. Rely on visual comedy to create more powerful stories of humour.
Ensure that humour aligns with your brand image
For humour to work, it is important to align the comical aspect of the brand image.
For example, if you are a B2B brand, picking Dollar Shave Club’s humour strategy (the explainer video generated 12000 new orders within 2 days of getting released on YouTube) as your inspiration might not be a good idea. It works for them because of their business model; a model that is unconventional and edgy. Most B2B brands don’t have a similar model or even target audience. But if you do have a similar structure and users, then their strategy is definitely something you should learn from.
So align humour with your brand values and then introduce it in your content, without going overboard.
If you have a ‘serious’ brand image, joking might seem completely out of line. But don’t let it stop you from utilising opportunities where humour can be incorporated. Just make sure that it aligns with what your brand stands for.
Avoid a humorous take on controversial subjects
While humour comes with a number of benefits, those benefits are accompanied with risk. And sometimes the risk is high.
When incorporating humour into your content, the grass looks greener on the side of the controversy. The virality of controversial topics is often tempting, but rarely fruitful.
It is crucial to refrain from saying things that can hurt cultural or religious sentiments. Such comments often invite backlash.
It is also important to stay away from crafting humorous opinions on sensitive subjects. While humorous comments on an already viral topic can give you a good visibility, they can tamper your brand image if the jokes are distasteful and come across as insensitive.
Take the example of Snapchat. In a recent advertisement, they asked their audience: “would you rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown?”. This attempt at humour came across in very poor taste.
This ad invited a lot of criticism on social platforms. Rihanna publically called out Snapchat and refused their apology. This one advertisement wiped off $1bn from Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc.
This explains the risk involved in the humorous translation of controversial subjects.
Humour has the potential to unlock many doors. But insensitive humour can close the existing ones. So make sure that you don’t use humour to deal with delicate issues.
Humour can be a very useful weapon but it can also be the most dangerous when (mis)used. To ensure that your humour recipe reaps fruitful rewards, make sure that you fully understand the people you are reaching out to. With a carefully crafted ‘humor’ plan, you can enrich user experience and hence increase engagement, improve visibility and boost your reputation.