The Dos and Don’ts of Humor on Social Media

I think we can all agree that the internet is a pretty hilarious place. It abounds in memes, hilarious cat videos, and top enumerated lists of “Products for People Who Are Completely Obsessed with Pizza.” At some point, you and/or your brand is going to want to join in on the laughs and infuse some humor into your social media content. And this is a great idea! …if you do it right.

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Humor is a really effective tool to communicate with your audience by appealing to their emotions and also to help humanize your brand. The whole point of social media is to give people a peek behind the curtain, and people nowadays want to have a similar relationship with the brands they follow on social as they do with their actual friends. Plus, it can help you get some (hopefully positive) attention and really differentiate yourself from your competitors.

But if you’ve read anything on the internet in general, you can see how quickly and easily your hilarious and seemingly innocuous Tweet can turn into a total shitstorm for your social media presence (seriously, there are even enumerated lists about it).

Save yourself the embarrassment later on and follow these dos and don’ts of using humor on social media:

DO Try to Find the Humor in Everyday Situations Try to find humor in the mundane. Constantly ask yourself “what’s funny about this?” and try to think outside of the box. To be funny is to be different, but also relatable.

DON’T Force It If what you have is flimsy or hastily prepared, people will recognize that. Put some thought into what you’re doing. Also, “everyday situations” do not include tragedies or sensitive issues.

DO Incorporate Pop Culture Phrases Asking people to say “Bye Felicia” to an old way of doing business is fun, hip, and relatable. Keep up with new, popular lingo and figure out if it would be appropriate to apply it to your brand.

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DON’T Incorporate Pop Culture Phrases Without Fully Understanding Their Meaning “Netflix and Chill” sounds innocent enough but has a very not-so-innocent definition. When in doubt, Urban Dictionary that shit. Don't be like these people.

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DO Be Self-Deprecating Especially if you’ve made a mistake, being the first person to laugh at yourself and make a commitment to move on can help steer the conversation into a positive result.

DON’T Insult Your Audience Laughing at yourself is ok, but laughing at your followers is not. If someone has a serious complaint, treat it seriously in order to avoid appearing condescending.

DO Reference Current Events & Trending Hashtags Like Oreo’s Superbowl post of 2013 when the lights went out in the stadium, timeliness can be a very important factor when it comes to being funny on the Internet.

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DON’T Reference Current Events or Trending Hashtags If You Haven’t Checked the Context It’s best to never make light of tragic situations or to try to turn a tragedy into an opportunity to force Facebook engagement.

DO Ask for a Second Opinion Not sure if that joke is SFTI (safe for the internet)? Ask a team member or manager for a second opinion.

DON’T Get Defensive If one of your jokes does offend someone, apologize and make moves to amend the situation. Sometimes a simple “We’re sorry” can work wonders in calming down an angry customer.

The bottom line is that humor is subjective. Make sure that you’re thinking about your target audience and not crossing the line into what they would consider inappropriate. Questions about your social strategy? Contact matchstick social to see how we can help you be funnier and more effective on social media.

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Matchstick Social is a social marketing + advertising firm headquartered in Charleston, SC with a satellite office in Oklahoma City, OK. Matchstick specializes in social media marketing, optimized social advertising, effective measurement of social initiatives and helping start-ups gain social currency by establishing their digital brands.