Social media is shrinking the distance between you and your client base, and humor may be the tool you need to close the final gap.

Laughter is a universal language. Why? Laughter is social, literally. Studies have shown we are 30 times more likely to laugh when we feel socially connected, and social connection prompts ‘all the feels.’ What do we mean by that? Well, positive brand association directly affects consumer loyalty, and what’s more positive than a laugh? But if funny is not quite you or your brand’s ‘thing,’ don’t panic, your customers are not looking for the next Seinfeld. What they are looking for is relatable, shareable humor, and to get you started, we have 5 Guidelines for Adding Humor into your Social Mix.

  1. Know Your Audience

Your Great Aunt may think the video, “David after the Dentist” is down right hilarious, but your niece thinks it’s “like, so early YouTube.” (if you haven’t seen “David After the Dentist, please watch below immediately.)

So what can we learn from the social preferences of great aunts and nieces? Know your audience; when you’re generating, sharing, and curating content, this should always be the first rule. Depending on the demographics of your customer or follower base, the type of content they will find humorous and shareable will vary. The key is then to know what will resonate. Knowing who you are targeting will help dictate what kind of content you should be producing. Different strokes for different folks, right?

  1. Everything In Moderation

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a press conference to announce that if you post one more picture of your cat sleeping, they’re going to delete your account.” -Jimmy Kimmel

Sorry Jimmy, we may be guilty of posting one or two cat pictures (see below)

But Kimmel is right, one cat picture is probably enough. Humor is an excellent method of garnering interest in your brand or business message, but, it can be overdone. Splicing humorous content in with call to to actions, informational and inspirational content creates a more well rounded message. Hitting the right mix is important, and one too many cat pictures (or Instagrams of your breakfast sandwich, or videos of Drake dancing… you get the point) may just throw your content mix off balance.

  1. Get Trendy

From a marketing perspective, timely and trending topics can help you to attract an audience and gain attention for your product, brand and/or company. If you remember the blackout during the Superbowl of 2013, you may also remember the reactions on Twitter to that blackout. Or even better, you may remember the brands that jumped into the social conversation in order to raise brand awareness. For example, take a look at Oreo’s tweet:  

Known as ‘The Oreo Blackout Tweet,’ that single joke won the brand numerous awards at Cannes Lions. But how can you scale Oreo’s example down to suit your brand? Timely or trending content expands well beyond just hashtags, you can take of-the-moment social conversation in numerous directions

Try combining pop culture and a popular Holiday:

Or even creating a content piece that takes advantage of a social media holiday, like “National Cookie Day” (Dec. 4th 2015):

Using a online resources for social holidays like the Encore Weekly Sidekick, which delivers a calendar of social media holidays, and poplar event dates weekly to your inbox, can help you with brainstorming ideas.

  1. Sharing is Caring

From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” - Dr. Seuss.

We’re pretty sure Dr. Seuss was talking about the internet in that quote. When you’re looking for humorous content, you have the world wide web at your fingertips. The secret to content ideation is in your web browser. Need image inspiration? Make your way over to Pinterest. Are you looking to jump into a timely conversation (as mentioned in our 2nd guideline)? Check out the Twitter trending topics. Want to spice up your feed with video? How about a little site called If you’re not confident in your own humorous content generation, there are plenty of funny people online.

Check out how we repurposed a New York Times Twitter contest into a content piece:

Following this content guideline can even be as simple as sharing a GIF on Twitter:

Not all content must come directly from you, your company should be sourcing for relevant pieces of humorous content you can repurpose. As long as credit is given where credit is due, curated content is king.

  1. Be Relatable

Have you ever heard the expression “it’s funny because it’s true?” If your content resonates with your customers, it WILL be funny because it’s true. Your social media posts should be appealing to your audience on a personal level. Relatable content is actionable content. Look at your past posts, what has worked, what hasn’t? Taking stock of what your followers respond to will help you understand what will perform well in the future. (For a great infographic on gauging the ROI on past posts, check out our blog post “How to Gauge ROI From Social Media.”)

Using a form of storytelling is a great way to segway into humorous content. Storytelling is effective in marketing and social because it offers your followers a chance to feel a personal connection. Humans of New York does a great job of storytelling, and part of the success of HONY is due to the relatability of their posts:

If you’re not accustomed to sharing small stories or personal insight, try formatting a post around a basic relatable concept like the general population’s aversion to Mondays and/or mornings:

Taking a note from the post above, often, one of the best ways to “be funny” is by keeping it simple, and staying relatable.

Humor may not always be the right approach, but when used in the right way, laughter can be a powerful tool. We’re confident with the guidelines above, and a little inspiration, you may just close the social gap between you and your customers, or at least come really really close.

Interested in learning more about content? Check out the free eBook, The 10 Commandments of Content Creation!
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