Why small businesses should use comedy in their social media marketing

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Your small business needs to have a strong social media presence. We know you know this. But we also know that within the time, budget and personnel constraints that are inherent to marketing for small businesses, it’s hard to know how you can possibly compete with the big guns and elevate your social media content above the noise. 

Sound about right? Then listen up; we’re here to tell you:

Why comedy should be a top priority in your social media marketing strategy.

Comedy encourages audiences to absorb your messaging

Let’s be honest — we’re all sick and tired of being sold to. Nobody enjoys being on the receiving end of a sales pitch, and when we sense it happening, our guard goes up. And yet small business owners often find themselves subjecting their social media followers to a constant stream of posts that essentially yell ‘buy this’ or ‘hire us’ — because how else are you meant to get your brand message across? 

The TV advertising heavyweights have the right idea, and the core principles of funny advertising apply equally well to social media marketing. By combining comedy (entertainment) with a brand message (the sales pitch), it’s possible to sell to your audience without making them feel like they’re being sold to.

Comedy is disarming. When we laugh, our subconscious defences are lowered and we become more susceptible to absorbing the message being presented — in this case, a sales pitch from a small business hoping to turn us into a customer. We don’t want to come across all romantic, but essentially you can think of comedy as the attractive wooden horse that your audience will gladly welcome into their fortress, and out of which your sales soldiers will leap out and slaughter their wallets.

Even better, when we find something really funny, it sticks in our memory. Brand recognition is the holy grail for young businesses (and local businesses looking to build word-of-mouth reputation online and IRL). When you successfully get your funny ideas lodged in a potential new customer’s head, your brand name, image and message will stay lodged in there too.

funny makes a sceptical audience lower their guard - so it's even easier for your brand's message to kick them in the nuts

Comedy content travels furthest, and it travels for free

It’s safe to assume that, as a small business, you don’t have access to the vast mountains of wealth that big brands pump into paid advertising every minute of every day. 

Oh, you do? Well, spend it on something else. Because the good news is you don’t have to spend any money at all on paid-for post promotion to reach a massive audience on social media. Social media users interact with and share content they enjoy. If you can make someone laugh, or even just smile when they weren’t expecting to, there’s a strong chance they’re going to hit that RT button or share your post in the WhatsApp group chat. That’s free advertising, baby.

The internet is littered with success stories of brands whose funny tweets went viral, gaining them massive exposure (we’ve even put together some case studies of our favourites). So clearly, when a brand commits to cultivating a specific, funny tone of voice on social media, they’re not doing it for the sake of it. And they’re certainly not doing it to provide free entertainment for the masses; they’re doing it because they know funny equals shareable, and consistently pumping out highly shareable social media content is the best way to build brand awareness.

There’s no reason why your small business can’t do the same. Every person who sees your social media post is a potential lead. When you make that person laugh, not only have you made a positive first impression on that lead, but you also increase the likelihood of them sharing your content to their own followers — after all, everyone likes to be perceived as someone who gives good, entertaining recommendations. Boom. Just like that, your leads are growing exponentially, and it didn’t cost a penny. 

Laughs generated = leads generated. It’s basic maths. 

Comedy builds relationships

For most small business owners, building strong, loyal relationships with your customers is top of the wish list. Luckily, as anyone not blessed with the looks of a Hemsworth will attest, the ability to make people laugh is a valuable asset when it comes to forming new relationships. But what’s the key to maintaining those relationships over a long time? No, it’s not about inviting a third party into the bedroom. It’s about spending time together.

Consistently interacting with your followers in a light-hearted, playful way that aligns with your brand voice demonstrates that there’s a real human behind the account. After all, chatbots can’t make jokes (ok, they probably will be able to soon, but we’re too scared to Google it). When you can make a follower feel like they’re interacting with a person, rather than just a profile, you’re well on the way to building a committed relationship with them.

This is particularly true when it comes to fielding customer service enquiries. In the ‘always on’ world of social media, many users expect you to respond within minutes.

While this time target is likely unattainable for most small businesses (you may be a one-person operation, after all), you can make up for this by taking the time to respond as promptly as possible to everyone who asks a direct question. Everyone. Even if it’s just someone making a joke, asking a question that’s clearly rhetorical, or spamming your page with nonsense — responding with humour reminds the potential customers watching from the sidelines that you’re always ready to help when they actually need it.

As for those genuine customer service enquiries — if you can make up for a slight delay by not only satisfactorily resolving their issue, but also raising a smile, you’re in. Invite us to the wedding, yeah? 

Comedy content feeds the beast without boring your audience

Posting regularly will keep your brand name in users’ feeds, which builds brand awareness among your current followers and makes it easier for new potential customers to discover you.

However, according to Quicksprout, only 52% of small businesses post content to their social networks daily. This is understandable. Most small business owners are time-pressed multi-taskers, and feeding the insatiable social media beast is an obligation that often gets pushed to the bottom of the list. But here’s the biggest problem: when they do get round to it, they’re in a rush and all out of ideas, so they revert to posting bland, transparent sales messages that offer viewers little in the way of added value.

The experts at Hootsuite put it this way: “If all you do is pitch and sell, there’s very little motivation for people to follow you.” In fact, posting repetitive, pushy content is a surefire way to lose followers.

The beauty of comedy content is that it sells without being ‘selly’ — and furthermore, it needn’t always relate directly to your product or service. If you allow yourself the freedom to post content that’s a little tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted or irreverent (and occasionally just plain funny for the sake of it), not only will your followers be delighted to see it pop up on their feeds, you’ll also likely enjoy the content creation process more…or at least dread it less!

comedy content feeds the beast without boring your audience to tears

Comedy helps you create compelling visual content 

Social media users’ attention is fleeting, their loyalties fickle, and your small business is competing with every other brand post, advert, notification and baby photo that’s flashing across their screens.

This means the visual component of your posts needs to grab their attention before they’ll even consider reading what you’ve got to say. Reckon you can post tweets or statuses without an image or video attached? Forget it. Visuals are mandatory when you post on Instagram, of course, but even Twitter’s official advice to brands is clear: 

“The single simplest thing you can do to get more attention to your Tweets is to add an image or GIF.”

It can be tough to find a constant stream of compelling visual content to post, especially if your brand offers a B2C or B2B service rather than a physical product that naturally lends itself to being photographed. But as soon as you entertain the idea of using comedy in your social media marketing, opportunities for engaging visual content abound.

Try cartoonish Photoshopped images that highlight the benefits of your offering (or the farcical, fictionalised dangers of going with a rival company). Use your phone to shoot mockumentary-style video content of life behind the scenes of a small business. And of course, there’s always the busy social media marketer’s preferred comedy fallback — pop culture GIFs. However you choose to create your social media content, ensuring that it’s funny and visually arresting will make your posts stand out from the dull stock photos or text-only feed fodder that other small businesses are putting out.

Comedy encourages user-generated content

What’s the easiest way to do something? That’s right! Get other people to do it for you — in this case, your own customers.

When you post funny content, you’ll find that your followers start posting their own jokes in response. Some will be funny (disclaimer: most won’t be), but that’s not the point. Your audience is generating content for you, and as long as they’re tagging your brand, you’ll reap the algorithmic benefits. Not only does this result in your brand reaching new potential customers, but it also reinforces a loyal relationship with your existing customers.

You don’t have to leave it to chance, either. Got an amusing photo of your product (whether real or Photoshopped)? Run a caption competition, and retweet the funniest submissions. Or you could do the reverse, and encourage users to share photos of themselves using your product or service, then re-post these with joke captions. Maybe it’s a cheesy pun, an edgy sarcastic put-down, or a cryptic stream of emojis; the type of humour you employ when interacting with user-generated content will depend on your brand tone of voice and the preferences of your target audience.

As long as you’ve established a reputation as a small business that’s game to have a laugh and provide entertainment, your social media following will gladly commit their time and creativity into playing along.

Comedy content can be scheduled, or real-time

Let’s be real, as a multi-tasking small business owner, you’re normally far too busy to post in real-time. Plus, you can’t use your laptop in the sauna anyway — so you create and schedule your content in batches, and set it to post itself at specific times over the week or two ahead.

For the uninitiated, Facebook has a built-in post scheduling facility and programs like Hootsuite or SEMRush allow you to schedule posts across multiple social media platforms simultaneously.

This approach works perfectly for comedy content which, we’ll admit, can be more time consuming to create than…*yawn*…content that isn’t funny (AKA content that sucks).

Most of your funny posts will be relatively ‘evergreen’ anyway — i.e. they’ll relate to a product, campaign or brand message that isn’t going to become irrelevant any time soon — so there’s very little risk attached to planning your posts out weeks or even months in advance. You can comfortably ‘set it and forget it’, then get back to your urgent accounting and/or afternoon in the hot tub.

Of course, you can factor some flexibility into your funny social media strategy too; once you’ve got a framework of regular posts scheduled, you should feel free to supplement them with ad hoc real-time posting, when you have time. This is pretty much the only way to jump aboard trending topics with your funny content, unless it’s something that comes round every year on a defined date, like #PancakeDay. 

You can also have a go at topical comedy in your real-time posts — that is, making jokes about something that’s happened in the news or pop culture. This might just be funny for funny’s sake, which is fine as long as you write it in your brand’s tone of voice, or you might find a way to spin a topical gag so it also reinforces your brand message. 

But be warned — it takes practice to pull off topical comedy and avoid the pitfalls (one being the small matter of taste)! And of course, if you want to be a funny first responder when something starts to trend on the social networks, you’ll need to create that content quickly (or hire someone who can). 

Comedy content can be outsourced to specialists

We know what you’re (probably) thinking; all of the above sounds great, but you can’t write a joke to save your life. Well, firstly, you can. 

Writing comedy, like any other type of writing, requires a dash of natural aptitude and a massive dollop of practice. Writing comedy that’s not only funny but also delivers a brand message requires a lot more of both, but it can be learned. Honestly, there are books and email courses that can point you in the right direction (I’ve even written some of them). 

Your other option is to hire a specialist — or a whole hive mind of them. The White Label Comedy hive mind is made up of the best comedy writers, copywriters and advertising creatives around, working together remotely to provide bespoke comedy social media marketing content for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Whether you decide to seek help or go it alone, we’d urge you to have a go at incorporating comedy into your social media marketing mix. We’re sure you’ll soon start to reap the benefits — and if you find you need a little assistance from a hive mind of specialists, you know where we are.

This blog was originally written for our friends over at Relevance.com

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