5 Things to Remember When Using Humor in Social Media

Laughing horseMost big brands have moved away from the “hard-sell” approach on social media. They understand that we don’t want our newsfeeds and dashboards to be filled with meaningless sales pitches and “Like this if you love our brand!” The “soft-sell” has become more about engaging with and even entertaining the audience. My favorite way to do this on pages that I manage is to add some humor to the content. Humor in a big brand’s social media marketing has pretty much the same effect as seeing a teacher outside of school; “Woah, they’re real people?”

Ambrose Bierce once said “Wit- the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.” Humor is the essential seasoning for an engagement casserole, so feel free to sprinkle a little bit onto your next post.

BUT WAIT.

Before you run off to write your one-liners, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

1. Don’t make light of serious situations

Leave humor out of the equation when you’re addressing sensitive current events, if you address them at all.

Kenneth Cole took it too far when they tweeted this doozy during the protests in Egypt.

Kenneth Cole Tweet

Twitter users were furious and there was some pretty heavy backlash. Kenneth Cole ended up issuing an apology but not before a hilarious parody account was created in their honor.

Kenneth Cole Parodies

And then there’s Roger Ebert:

Roger Ebert

Too soon man. Too soon.

 

2. Engage with other brands

If you ever have the opportunity, start a witty back-and-forth with another brand. It utilizes humor but also gets their followers to notice you. One of my favorite examples of this is the conversation between Oreo and AMC.

AMC and Oreo

Another great example with sassy Old Spice:

Old Spice and Taco Bell

3. Tread lightly

It’s okay to tease, but don’t do it in a way that will alienate part of your audience. Stereotypes about gender, age, religion, etc., are a big no-no.

McDonald’s pissed off dog lovers when they used this image to market their new McBites. The radio ad says “Trying a brand new menu item isn’t risky. You know what’s risky? Petting a stray pitbull.”

McDonalds Pitbull Ad

A petition set up with change.org succeeded in getting the 4,000 signatures necessary to get McDonald’s to pull the ad. However, the backlash was even stronger across their social media pages. The Dolly Foundation, a pitbull rescue and advocacy group, posted a Facebook status that spoke to what everyone was thinking: “The truth? We wouldn’t even let our dogs eat their cancer-causing nuggets.”

4. Make humor relevant to your brand

Just posting a funny joke or picture won’t cut it if it has nothing to do with your company. People love to see brands creatively incorporating their brands and products into clever one-liners and situations.
I love this Pac-Man themed Taco Bell picture. Now, excuse me while I go buy a Crunchwrap…

Taco Bell Pacman

5. Not everyone’s a comedian

This isn’t a comedy club. It’s okay if you aren’t knee-slappin’ hilarious. Adding a little pun or some clever phrasing could be the small addition your brand needs to show some personality.

Take this example. Dr. Pepper is not making you spit out your 23-flavored drink with this one, but it shows character and makes you want to hit that like/share button.

Dr Pepper Cat

So there you have it. Humor, when used in the right way, is a simple way to increase engagement. These are some great examples of companies to look to if you ever get stuck in the process. Look around, get some inspiration, and find your inner Jerry Seinfeld.
Have you noticed any companies using humor in their social media marketing? Which ones stick out to you?

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