Updated: Jan 22
Most of us have heard of the overfriendly joking salesperson, they’re loud, crack lame jokes and so over the top that they eventually drive people away. We watch them in crazy car commercials and movies, and we laugh and roll our eyes.
But, in the marketing world, many content writers feel that humor does not belong because their consumers won’t take them seriously. There’s also the obvious fact that humor can be interpreted in many different ways – the joke may be taken in the wrong context. Others believe that being humorous, or weird, will drive consumers away, so their content stays serious and provide “just the facts ma’am”.
But adding a bit of humor, and even weirdness can actually help you connect more with your target market and draw them in. Let’s look at our own personal social media “friends” for example, you become friends because you both have something in common. Then they say or share something humorous or weird that you find relatable and then you think “I knew I liked you for a reason”.
Content marketers can use this to their advantage and draw their consumers in, convert sales, and create loyal customers.
Here’s how you can be weird and funny with your content marketing.
Go Against The Grain
Consumers scrolling through their search queries come across many similar titles and redundant information as if they’ve been chewed up, regurgitated, and posted again.
But if you had content with a weird or catchy title, you stand out more. 53% of consumers have said they like advertisements if they’re humorous and they can recall them better than standard ones.
Let’s look at a search query for “ future United States population”, some headlines read:
Demographic Turning Points For the United States
The United States Will Soon Be Bigger, Older, And More Diverse
State Population To Double By 2040, Babies Are To Blame
Projections Of The Size And Composition Of The US Population
“Wait, wut?” Did you catch that babies are to blame for population growth? Would you click on that title first?
One company that’s using humor and effectively stands out among its competitors is Dollar Shave Club. They actually focus on being weird, one of their videos garnered over 24 million views and attracted 12,000 new customers in 2 days!
One important factor to keep in mind while writing humorous or weird content is to be responsible for what you post. Avoid being too cynical, avoid heated topics that are likely to cause a backlash and gimmicky hype that will cause your consumers to veer away from your company.
Another successful way to interject humor into your content marketing is by being interactive with your readers. This can be done in two ways:
Create Shareable Interactive Media:
You can make a variety of media types that your readers can interact with, such as:
Quizzes and Polls – Not only can these be fun to participate in, but you can also see where your readers stand on products and services and better cater to them
Contests – Offer “Caption This” contests or similar interactions to gain more followers and engagement. Award winners simple brand-related prizes.
Interactive Videos – Readers can click through funny choices and arrive at products or services related to their responses.
These interactive media have short lifespans as the hype fades, but viewers continue to share them and stick around for the relatable content.
Respond to Readers:
77% of Twitter users appreciate a brand more when their tweet is responded to by companies. Responding in a witty (but helpful) way also makes your company be more memorable by readers.
Wendy’s Restaurant has created a large following with their snarky comebacks on Twitter, many at the behest of their competitors.
One of Wendy’s tweets roasting McDonald’s burgers garnered 13.3K retweets and 43.4K likes.
Creating interactive and engaging content with humor, wit, and even weirdness interjected throughout can be a successful marketing strategy as long as you represent your products and services.
Invent Memorable Spokespeople
Who can instantly recall who Captain Obvious is? The sarcastic, humorous, and sometimes belittling spokesperson of Hotels.com has gained over 300,000 followers.
How successful can these spokespeople be for a company? The “Old Spice Guy” campaign resulted in $1.6 million dollars in sales in a 4-week period.
I know these are advertising campaigns, but they can be used in content marketing in a number of successful ways. One subtle way is as a serial, create a funny, shareable moment in one post, and then refer back to it in future posts – like a running joke. New readers will go back to the older posts to follow your character’s interactions.
To create a successful spokesperson takes quite a bit of research and staying on top of trends. Presenting to focus groups and other customer experience analyses to see if your brand of humor will work for your target market is a good way to prevent your joke from bombing.
Create Shareable Memes And GIFs
Content marketers are now realizing that creating and using memes and GIFs are effective for products and services that have limited advertising potential because of its predictable uniformity.
Barkbox, the dog product subscription service is one great example. There are only so many ways to show dogs with toys, so the marketers decided to turn their whole Instagram account into memes and dog “spotlight” posts instead of focusing on displaying products.
Not only are memes are funny and can lighten the mood, but they are also highly shareable. 20% of young adults share visual content from brands multiple times a day, combine this with 84% of millennials say that user-generated content at least somewhat influences what they buy.
Make sure that your memes and GIFs are relatable to your products or services but not too “commercial” sounding, keep it natural, and don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself or use jokes specific to your niche market.
Address Customer Issues Using Satire
The majority of searches online are people looking for solutions for their problems. Why not grab their attention by using satire featuring the very problem they’re having.
One example is Purple Mattress and their web series “Purple Boys” that interviewed goofy characters who have trouble sleeping. Statistics show that 68% of Americans have trouble sleeping at least once a week, so many people can relate to this comedy routine.
It’s a way of companies to say “we get it, life sucks”, and present a solution.
Again, keeping a focus on your target market will prevent your material from bombing. The above Purple Boys videos will appeal more to the younger crowd but probably flop with middle-age and older consumers.
Everyone likes a good joke and be entertained, but when it comes to content writing, marketers freeze in their tracks. Content marketers want to represent their business appropriately and convert readers into loyal customers.
But humor and weirdness can:
Make your content stand out from others
Cause your brand material to go viral and be unforgettable
Make your readers feel connected and loyal shoppers
In other words, humor sells.
Keeping things humorous can be a fresh breath of air from the usual stoic material that we see online. It may be tricky to find the right pulse, but hey, it’s not brain surgery.
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