The problem with humor is that it can be subjective and hard to grasp. There is no way to tell somebody how to be funny or to explain why certain things are funny and others aren’t. But, forget about the ‘how’ for now and consider the ‘why.’
Using humor in the right way can draw a lot of attention to your brand. As Mitchell mentions, several very popular brands such as Old Spice rely almost exclusively on humor. Have a look at this great interaction between them and Taco Bell on Twitter. Both companies are very successful using humor: Taco Bell has 815,477 followers, and Old Spice 220,051.
But why is humor that effective? According to Mitchell, humor makes your company stand out and consequently more memorable. Using humor gives people a reason to talk about you in a good way. Your brand seems more like an interesting person rather than just a product or service, which helps make real and relevant connections to social-media users. It is a great way to communicate with your audience in a way that makes you more authentic, which we discussed in a recent post: Get Real: Communicate with Your Audience, Not at Your Audience.
Being funny from time to time actually makes your serious moments stronger. The line between funny and offensive is a very fine one though. A “ha-ha” can quickly turn into a “boo-hoo” if you are not careful. While it may seem obvious, never make fun of topics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion in your company’s name. Always follow the Golden Rule and be respectful of other people.
The amount of humor you use obviously has to fit your brand. A non-profit organization dealing with serious issues around the globe has to be more serious than an electronic game company. Never forget who you are and what you want to represent. You can get creative on any issue, but always think about whether a comedic or serious tone would be most effective. Trying to be something you are not, or giving the perception that you are trying to hard can easily backfire. So remember, be yourself and be human and if your brand warrants it, don’t take things too seriously. You are likely to find your customers will appreciate you more for the effort.