2016 content trends: When to use (& how not to abuse) humor, #12DaysofContent

More and more brands are incorporating humor into their content and the reasoning behind it is simple: people respond well to it. Content that provokes laughter is engaging, welcoming, and above all, human. Even in so called “boring” industries, humor can be a great way to connect with an audience.

Think back to some iconic TV commercials from the past twenty years – whether they were about insurance-slinging talking geckos, chalupa-loving chihuahuas, or Bart Simpson’s love for candy bars, you probably remember each brand. What do these, and many other of the best and most memorable commercials have in common?

Humor is especially effective in the form of visuals: particularly video and graphics on social media – whether in the form of a search of an advertisement. While humor can help you show your personality and set your brand apart from the competition, one of the biggest benefits and goals of humor in content is generating buzz and brand awareness.

Humorous video content is becoming a mainstream approach:

  • 30% of all ads and 50% of TV ads are based on humor.
  • 9/10 of the ads featured in the 1st video result (2nd total web results) on Google SERP for “best car commercial of all time” include humorous ads

Laughter is the best medicine

Think about some of your fondest memories – chances are they were times shared laughing with friends and family.

In advertising, this is also the case. Take a look at this case study from Copy Hackers. Guess which one of these ads below had the highest conversion rate?

Control:

Humor Control Example

Variation 1:

Humor Example 2

Variation 2:

Humor Example 3

Variation 3:

Humor Example 4

Make ‘em laugh: When to use humor

Humor, especially at the top of the funnel, is one of the best ways of engaging your audience. If the first thing a prospective buyer sees is catchy, entertaining and memorable, there’s a greater chance of them clicking further and learning more.

Joke’s on you: When humor doesn’t work

Using humor becomes less necessary deeper into the funnel, and might even be counterproductive in the latter phases of the journey, as the buyer begins to get more serious.

And while humor can unite audiences, other common topics such as politics or current events can be polarizing and less effective. As a rule of thumb, avoid trying to make controversial or sensitive issues funny. The last thing you want is to offend the audience you’re trying to impress.

TIP: Test out your laugh-factor before bringing it to market

A comedian likely tests out a new joke in front of a smaller crowd before debuting it to the masses – and a content marketer should use the same tactic.

If you’re considering using humor, test out your ideal first with your internal audience – perhaps in a company newsletter or intranet. If the response is negative or indifferent, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. If it gets great reviews, it will probably resonate well with your external audience as well.

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Steven Pritchard
Steven Pritchard is a content marketing strategist at Brafton, based in Boston.

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