Earlier this year I performed my first stand-up comedy gig – something I always wanted to do, but was frankly, very scared of. Delivering business presentations, speaking at seminars, performing on stage in a sketch – no problem, but on stage, alone, with just your memory and your jokes – now that’s scary.
“When I told people I was going to become a comedian they laughed
– well, they're not laughing now” – Jimmy Carr.
I’ve been involved in comedy writing for a few years now and I’ve become intrigued with the way jokes work. I’ve also noticed that some of the best social media revolves around humour. A little bit of fun goes a long way to lighten the endless stream of mundane marketing posts, self-promoting articles and unimaginative sales messages. Just look at Compare the Market’s successful social media channels featuring Alexandr – almost every post is a joke or humorous comment of some sort. A post that is funny stands out from the crowd and gets attention – it can also make people stop and think.
So injecting a bit of humour into your social media will help attract and keep more fans and followers. But it’s really not as simple as that. Humour is very subjective and has to be appropriate to your organisation and brand. Telling jokes may be okay for a fun, family business, but not appropriate for a staid financial institution. (Which is a real shame, because many of them could do with a bit of humour, to be honest).
The skill in telling a joke – it’s all about…
Telling a joke well is a real skill, but knowing when and how to tell an appropriate joke is a very rare talent indeed. Like everything else in marketing, it all comes down to understanding your target audience – what makes them laugh, what they get offended by and what terms of reference they share.
Generally in social media, when it comes to humour, less is more – it is better to be sure about the humour and use it occasionally, than to try and force every post to be humorous.
There are a few rules to stick by with social media humour:
- Never take the mickey out of anything – customers, competitors, or products. It’s a very negative kind of humour and leads to people questioning your right to pass judgement.
- Never be smutty, swear or tell a joke that you wouldn’t tell to your children or the boss. Remember most social media is in the public domain where anyone could see it.
- Never tell a joke about bombing an airport – we all know where that leads.
A simple humourous Facebook post can encourage sharing and create a great viral effect.
And a humorous video posted to YouTube can get a great deal of attention – just look at Blendtec’s “Will it Blend” campaign or Hubspot’s music videos.
One last rule that applies to all social media posts – but especially to humour – write the post, think about it for a few minutes – consider all the potential viewers/readers and their possible reactions – then, if you are in any doubt – don’t post. Once you post that bad taste joke it’s out there forever haunting your social media efforts.
Writing this post in which I tell you how to improve your social media efforts and then immediately warn you how difficult it is, I feel a bit like a local vicar – “Let me introduce you to the idea of heaven – it’s great – oh and by the way, it’s really hard to get there.”
I leave you with one of my favourite social media jokes:
A dying grandma tells her grandchild, “I want to leave you my farm. That includes the barn, livestock, the harvest, the tractor, and other equipment, the farmhouse and $24 million in cash.”
The grandchild, absolutely floored and about to become rich says, “Oh grandma, you are SO generous! I didn’t even know you had a farm. Where is it?”
With her last breath, Grandma whispered, “Facebook…”