Using Humor in Social Media Marketing is … Good?

In the past, we’ve blogged about how social media is social, meaning you get the most out of it by thinking of it as two-way communication. It’s a party … and what happens at a party when you tell a joke? The feedback is instantaneous. You make people laugh, offend them or your joke just falls flat and you get some pity chuckles.

Is it worth the risk? That depends.

  • Does it work?
    Yes. If your post is funny, people will share it. A 2006 Louisiana State University study into viral web ads revealed “humor was employed at near unanimous levels for all viral advertisements,” and small companies represented a 60% share of those successful ads. The tools have changed, but basic human behavior hasn’t. Small businesses can still get a leg up over the competition with humor.
  • How does it work?
    The Benign Violation Theory says funny is that sweet spot between everyday observations (not funny) and what is offensive (really not funny). Fall to the left and you look like a dork, but fall to the right and you look evil. If you can strike the right tone you create powerful, positive associations with your brand.
  • What happens when it doesn’t work?
    If it comes across as offensive it could be a PR nightmare, complete with social media backlash about how terrible of a company you are. If the joke is a dud, you’ve just wasted your time. You put a post into the world that people will likely ignore.

So what’s our advice? Test drive your content offline first. Run it past your team, your customers, your business associates before you post. If it’s funny to the people who already help make your business successful, chances are it will be funny to the people you’re trying to reach, too.

Or you can just leave the funny stuff to the professionals:

“Facebook: What’s on your mind? … Twitter: What’s happening? … Myspace: Where did everybody go?” – Will Ferrell