While running your business page on social media, you are constantly facing a problem of a choice between being a seriousprofessional or using a more casual tone. Why do so many businesses see humor as a 'forbidden fruit', and where is this thinline, separating a business approach from frivolous jokes?
Yes, today we are talking about humor, but we will try our best to keep the serious tone and analyze how it can actually be used to optimise social media tone across different channels.
Talking about humor, we are obliged to dive into psychology, in order to understand what possibilities it gives to the brand, how audience reacts, and what are the potential dangers of humor.
PSYCHOLOGY. WHY IS HUMOR SO ATTRACTIVE?
Starting from ancient times, Greek comedies, Italian Commedia dell' Arte, and modern Stand-up Comedy, humor has been used to emphasize certain qualities the author intended to highlight. But there was always a little trick; the audience didn't know it was guided to a pre-planned conclusion. Humor was opening the hearts with positive emotions, and the critical thinking was moved to the secondary role.
As you can see, humor requires well-thought strategy. Though some of the social media posts seem to be spontaneous,most of them are backed by a long-term strategy. By the way, do you have a social media content strategy in place?
If you do, you probably realize the importance of an 'easy to follow' and entertaining content that usually has much higher engagement rate. People like to share information they enjoy and show to their dear ones the 'fun stuff'.
READ MORE: 4 EFFORTLESS WAYS TO USE EMOTIONAL MARKETING
WHAT'S THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BACKGROUND?
- Laughing people seem to be more honest (don't you want to look honest?). "It’s a completely genuine, involuntary reaction to a situation. What could possibly be more honest than a person caught up in a moment of unrestrained joy? That connection is powerful" (Source);
- Laughing people are perceived as non-aggressive ones, thus more friendly (Source);
- The sense of humor is commonly associated with high intellect: "Thinking of a witty comeback doesn’t come easily to everyone. The proven ability to think quickly offers a humorous comment. It shows that you are a sharp person" (Source);
- Humor helps to build a connection: "By being sarcastic with another person, you are suggesting that they “get you". In other words, they understand the underlying message that you are trying to convey."
I suspect that now you are convinced of the necessity of humor on your personal social media profiles, but do the same rules apply when we are talking about the business pages? Should the brands 'make jokes' with their audience?
WHAT POSSIBILITIES DOES HUMOR GIVE TO BRANDS?
Let's start with the fact that absolute majority of the big brands do use humor to engage with their audience. Some create original images to show the originality of their company, and some are just leaving smart and funny comments. Let's research how do the brands across different industries utilize the opportunities that humor offers.
Our favorite pick in finance is certainly Bloomberg. The serious company, number one source of economic and financialanalysis, is leaving ironic comments that are charming the audience. Look at these examples:
Or maybe this?
Bloomberg comments correspond to all the social media criteria and standards: they are short, witty and sincere.The audience believes these posts.
The PHP Agency is totally rocking the YouTube with their hilarious life insurance commercial, which plays with a verysensitive topic that most of the people try to avoid. A method you used to apply in childhood still works: laugh at your fears. Great example!
Here we can find a bundle of examples that are so awesome, you can just watch them instead of your favorite comedy show. Here are the brightest examples of the retail social media humor of various genres that are commonly used by big brands.
- Brand-themed images meant to play with the audience and show the brand's culture. Old Spice is doing it ina marvelous way, exaggerating the 'macho' image up to the point, it becomes ridiculous.
- Emoji – Millenials enjoy seeing emoji, this is the language they speak (ok, we also do :). So, brands are adapting their social media strategies to the need of their audience. Here is the brilliant example from a Twitter account of Innocent Drinks. The company keeps 'naïve' and slightly childish style, which looks totally adorable.
- Gifs & Short Videos are an outstanding example from Starbucks that combines creativity with humor, meanwhile promoting the new service.
SO, HOW DO YOU USE HUMOR ON BUSINESS PAGES?
As you can see, despite the fact that each brand has its own individuality and voice, all these social media posts have one thing in common: they are positive. You won't find sarcastic and negative examples on the brand profiles. Why so? The main aspect of humor, as we have found out, is to trigger the right emotions. You can't create a positive image by leavinga negative impression. So here is the first rule of using the humor – stay on the positive side.
The second aspect – respect your audience. Don't go into the topics that can obviously offend the people: religion, race, nationality, etc. The obvious example of crossing the borders of irony are religious caricatures. Have fun with your audience but in a respectful way, knowing your limits.
Stay away from politics – this is the third rule, that can save your business page from aggression. Yes, it's totally tempting to laugh at politicians, their promises, at people who take these promises seriously. But hey! You might be the one who is taking these promises seriously, and I bet you wouldn't enjoy someone laughing at your political beliefs.
Do use the self-irony – there is nothing more charming than a brand which is capable of looking at itself critically and withgood humor. Should it be done well, you will certainly earn an army of devoted followers, waiting for your next hilarious joke.
This was a brief overview of the humor used in social media tone. Don't be afraid to experiment and joke with your followers, because no one really likes boring people!
In your opinion, what's the social media profile that stands out for you in terms of using humor?
By the way, here are other great posts about Social Media Marketing: