What does the content that your business puts out into the world really say? Not about your product or service, but about your brand itself. Too often, the answer is “not much,” with many marketing decision makers new to content marketing choosing to go with a bland, overly formal style that fills up a lot of words without showing any character.
It’s easy to understand why this holds a certain appeal, being perceived as the benchmark for professionalism and thought leadership online. However, it’s an incredibly difficult style to really nail, and more often than not it comes off as simply dull, lifeless and, worst of all, boring.
Of course, it’s just as hard to break out of this cliche and make your content more unique. Humour in particular is a great way to increase engagement amongst readers, as well as drive leads and build your brand. The challenge is understanding why and when your content should be funny.
Content marketing fails: The sin of being boring
Content marketing is all about getting results, but what a lot of marketing decision makers don’t understand is that there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat. SEO is obviously a huge focus, but content marketing success isn’t just about pushing dozens of keyword-stuffed, link-laden articles out into the internet ether every week.
Simply put, your content has to be good, as well as optimised for search. If your audience is switching off after the first couple of sentences, then all the traffic in the world won’t make a jot of difference to your website’s conversion numbers.
In fact, content that isn’t engaging is one of the key factors that Kissmetrics identifies in it’s list of reasons why “content marketing isn’t working for you.” The site puts things pretty bluntly, explaining that unsuccessful content marketing usually means “your content sucks,” or “you’re boring.” And there’s a lot of truth to this. The content marketing landscape is more competitive than ever, and when everybody’s doing it, unique content and a fresh, funny style becomes a necessity rather than a luxury.
Can content marketing be funny?
In a word, yes! There are so many different benefits to creating engaging content, with one of the biggest being the opportunity to build better bonds with customers. Everybody knows that humour is a great way to connect with people, and there’s no reason that brands of all shapes and sizes can’t leverage this to foster a sense of loyalty and community. As an added bonus, funny content has a far greater chance of being shared, expanding the potential audience and bringing more traffic to your site.
For an example of how funny, shareable blog content can help to build a brand, let’s take a closer look at the insurance industry. Now there’s no denying the importance of insurance, but it’s pretty rare for the subject to set pulses racing. Insurance companies know this, Which is why several of them have been early and ardent adopters of a quirkier style that breathes a bit of life into their services.
In fact, insurance companies fill two spots on Hubspot’s list of “7 Boring Big Brands That Used Humor to Amp Up Their Marketing” One of the examples used is Allstate, which really took a leap of faith when it began using a fictional character named Mayhem across multiple forms of media to physically embody the various (and ridiculous) situations where insurance might come in handy. The content is hilarious, shareable, tied into the brand’s website copy and also appeals to younger customers who represent more long-term value to Allstate. It’s a marketing slam dunk, and underlines just how fresh it can be when a stereotypically dull product is treated with a bit of flair.
Creating the right content
One thing that’s important to keep in mind when working with humour as part of your business’s brand is that it is possible to go too far. Part of what we love about comedy is that it exists on the edge, playing jump rope with the line between what’s funny and what’s inappropriate. It’s a delicate art, and if a brand strays too far into the realms of bad taste, the consequences can be disastrous and hugely damaging.
While we’re talking about balance, it’s also worth keeping in mind that while your content should be as engaging and shareable as possible, that shouldn’t come at the expense of the other tenets of content marketing. You really do need the whole package, with carefully strategised content that is targeted and relevant to your audience, but still interesting enough that it doesn’t simply come off as the same old shtick.
This is where a lot of businesses fall down in terms of their content marketing, creating content that goes too far in one direction – being either entertaining but poorly optimised or vice versa. To really make content marketing work for you, you need production and strategic expertise to work together, producing copy that stands the very best chance of attracting traffic and turning that into happy, loyal and, hopefully, amused customers.