Social media allows brands to be social, talk to their customers and show a little more of the story than can be shown in traditional advertising. It has opened up two way communication and has resulted in many companies experiencing a growth in their awareness due to their social presence.

Many brands have taken to using Facebook and Twitter in a funny way, getting followers to see a more human side, share their content and engage more. A number of companies have become known for their funny posts including Pringles and Wendy’s, with the latter known for its ‘burns’.

For other brands, the use of comedy on social hasn’t gone so well, for example in the UK, rail firm Thameslink had to apologise to another company after causing a bit of an upset.

It all started with a customer complaint over Twitter, which (referencing a famous Ferrero Rocher advert) implied that the service was poor.

Thameslink then replied “Very sorry Kevin. Appreciate at the moment the service is less Ferrero Rocher and more Poundland cooking chocolate.” The comment appeared to annoy the budget retailer – Poundland, who then Tweeted:

Thameslink then replied: “Very sorry team for using your name here. I have removed the offending tweet.”

There are always going to be good examples and bad examples of social media use in business, but when is it okay for brands to use humour, and when is it not? To find out, I asked the Expert Community.

“We all remember at least one funny social media post from a business. While social media can be effective for increasing engagement with your brand some businesses get it so wrong. It is important to realise when a joke will work well and when you shouldn’t head down that path. It is important for businesses to think twice about posting, to make sure nothing can be taken in a way unintended. It is important to know the values of your stakeholders and know what humour will work and also know the potential backlash you could get from a ‘harmless’ post.”
Catriona Pollard, CEO of CP Communications 

“Now more than ever, brands are trying to stand out and connect with their audience. When you consider Millenials are on the cusp of of overtaking Baby Boomers as the largest living generation, it’s important to understand the type of humour that resonates with this generation. And that type of humour is self – deprecation. Humour is one of the most effective ‘glues’ in marketing – a brilliant way to connect with your target audience. Brands which can poke fun at themselves and generate a humerous response stand a better chance of being recalled and indeed shared via social media. One of the best examples of this is a recent print campaign for Burger King in the US. Some of there stores had been damaged by fire – their campaign of ‘Flame Grilled’ coupled with images of burning stores poked fun at themselves whilst highlighting their point of difference – that there burgers are really flame grilled. So yes, humour works. But now, more than ever, lines such as sexual preference, race, religion or sexism should never be crossed.”
Stu Atkins, Co – owner Social Seedling

“There are certainly some brands which because of their industry, image or reputation should consider avoiding humour on social media. Some brands need to be taken seriously by customers in order for them to be considered for purchase. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to see a serious charity joking about a serious illness before donating to them. However, you don’t have to be a popular, trendy brand to make using humour on social media work. It can really add character to a brand that sells a generally unexciting product or service in an uninspiring industry. Being funny will improve your brand awareness, and give you a largely positive brand image, but it is very hard to get right. Your jokes may fall flat, or you might come ac ross as trying too hard, and you don’t want to bee seen as copying the humour of other brands. You also have to really know your target audience’s sense of humour, or you could come across as childish, annoying or distasteful. A single inappropriate gag can even create widespread outrage and anger towards your brand if it isn’t thought through carefully. This is why one of the main things you should consider when thinking about using humour on social media isn’t just if it would be right for your brand, but also if you would be able to implement it right.”
Steve Pritchard, Digital Marketing Consultant at Anglo Liners

“Any brand can be funny on social media because everyone has some kind of sense of humor – meaning that all audiences will appreciate something funny. That said, the definition of what passes as funny will vary from audience to audience, so the key to being funny on social media as a brand is understanding what your audience considers to be funny in the first place. Understand that and you’ll understand when humor is appropriate and what kind of humor will actually get a laugh.”
Eric Johnson, Digital Marketer at FeedbackWrench

What do you think?

Do you think it’s okay for brands to be funny on social? Let us know in the comments below.




Category:   Social
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