Steve Hamilton – Digital Media Director

In a world of increasing automation, elements of humanity are becoming harder to find. With the increasing use of chatbots, it will become more difficult to separate interpersonal communication from robotic messaging scripts. Occasionally brands, companies and even politicians have the opportunity to present themselves as human, through the use of humor and comedy. 

Done correctly, a funny tweet can help you connect with customers. Humor can make even the most unlikeable of people connect with the general public. President Richard Nixon had a disastrous experience on television in his 1960 contest against President John Kennedy. Nixon famously came across as unkempt and angry. Nixon used a five second appearance on the irreverent and ‘un-presidential’ show Laugh-In, as part of his rebranding effort in the 1968 campaign.

hqdefaultCantankerous presidential candidates don’t come around all that often, but companies frequently step out of their comfort zone on April Fool’s Day. Bands can share a joke with their customer, increase camaraderie, and try to grow an audience. Marketers compete to get on the “best of April Fool’s” lists and get as much free press as they can.

There isn’t a reason humor needs to be steered away from the other 364 days in a year. If you are trying to avoid a staid online reputation, you can and should incorporate a personality in your online communications.

When planning to use humor, you need to be cautious. Mistakes are broadcast even faster than successes on the Internet, and can severely damage your image. Here are some important tips for using humor to effectively promote your brand image:

  1. Stay light hearted: There’s no need to be mean and look like a bully. A little self-deprecating humor is not a bad move, but you don’t want people to think you’re garbage!
  2. Be topical: Comedy after all is about timing. A joke about something that happened several months ago isn’t humorous. Satire shows like the Daily Show, John Oliver, SNL, or even South Park, move quickly and move on to the next topic.
  3. Embrace the target: Don’t overthink it though and let a good opportunity pass you by. Pretty much everyone thought that Red Lobster missed the mark with its feeble response to Beyonce.
  4. Don’t impact the user experience: Learn from Google’s experience this year when they accidentally caused users to not receive reply emails. Even if the prank was funny, people’s lives and jobs were impacted. Joke’s should enhance the user experience, not cause an inconvenience.
  5. Don’t do stupid stuff: If you wouldn’t want your teenager saying it on their social media, you know it is not a good idea. Mayor de Blasio is in hot water over a joke that should have been passed over. Just don’t go there if there is a doubt.

Most importantly though, do not be too afraid or risk averse to try things. Not every tweet is going to go viral (for good or bad). But make sure you are developing a personality with your online brand. “All work and no play,” is real.

Make sure you have process in place to catch something when something goes wrong. After all, we’re trying to be more human, and to err is human.

Have fun, step out of your comfort zone, and make your customers smile.