Content marketing is a conversation
They say laughter is the best medicine, but could it also be a treatment for unengaged audiences?
With social media and smartphone technology in reach of almost every consumer on the planet, engagement has become the Holy Grail for brands and publishers. I believe this is thanks to ever-changing social metrics (that is, Facebook); social success may no longer be measured in likes or clicks. When a brand posts content that can motivate its audience to pay attention, comment, share, repost or even parody, this is when it wins.
Comedy in its many forms can entertain, educate and even defuse your biggest critics. I believe content marking is a conversation with your audience and, just like a party, if you are bland and uninteresting, people ignore you, they forget about you and they don’t want to be your friend. It’s harsh but true. If you can make someone laugh, you can make them engage with you, and this is where video and comedy come into their element online.
Now at this point I could try to convince you that comedy works every time, that it will make all your videos viral hits. I could drop in links to the highly successful but usually irrelevant ‘The man your man could smell like’ – Old Spice commercial, or one of my favourites for O2 in the UK called ‘Be more dog’, but this isn’t an article trying to convince you that people love the funny and unexpected.
This is an article about how to win friends and influence people with comedic content targeted specifically at your audience for use online (it’s a working title).
Here are three simple starting points.
Step 1: Define your audience (not a comedy tip but still important)
It seems counterintuitive, but ‘niche’ isn’t always a dirty word. If you are in the B2B market, there is a good chance you are already in a niche, so every video doesn’t have to ‘go viral’. A small engaged section of the market paying attention to your content, sharing and discussing it, can be more important than carpet bombing those who don’t engage. Knowing what your audience like and what they find interesting/funny can be more important than the links you post or the strength of your jokes.
Step 2: Do something unexpected
Sticking to my previous metaphor, everyone loves a party trick. In my experience, the best office parties I’ve ever been to usually involve a quietly spoken member of the accounting team shedding their skin and belting out a tone-deaf version of ‘Total eclipse of the heart’ – it’s unexpected, hilarious and the subject of much conversation for weeks to come. Unexpected can be exciting, funny and can reclaim people’s attention. Also, your content doesn’t for a minute have to be risquè to work online – it just has to break the norm and force people to pay attention.
Step 3. Tell a story
A common device in comedy is the antidote. Take Jerry Seinfeld for example; he has made his living from telling stories, not necessarily jokes.
While it can be intimidating to attempt something funny, remember that with the right audience a joke can be as simple as a situational story, a morbid musical, an unexpected juxtaposition or even a cat being startled by a vegetable.
Recently we created a video with our client Lenovo to develop some comedy content to raise awareness of its reliability messaging. The obvious question was how to differentiate its messaging in a crowded IT market, moving away from the ubiquitous product videos in the enterprise technology industry.
Our solution was a video that liberated the technology from the server room, personified the product benefits and clearly stood out from the crowd. We like to think of the spot as ‘Ferris Bueller’s day off’ meets the ‘The IT crowd’, a fun pop-culture-filled story featuring the product in an unexpected way.
Regardless of whether your brand is progressive or conservative, new to content or an experienced publisher, comedy really can be a great treatment for brands wanting ultimately to engage audiences.