How to Include Humor Tastefully In Your Content To Engage More Readers

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How to Include Humor Tastefully In Your Content To Engage More Readers

If a day without laughter is a day wasted, then why do so many brands settle for dull content that fails to evoke positive emotions and put a smile on their clients’ faces?

Well-chosen, well-written humorous content, adapted to the topic that you’re expanding on and the particularities of your public, can open many doors and facilitate a deeper, longer-lasting connection with your audience.

Humorous Content can Help You Bring Your Brand into the Spotlight

If you write an informative content piece, maybe they’ll quote you. If you write copy that is downright funny, original and pertinent, they’ll definitely remember you. At the end of the day, they might end up following you on Facebook and telling their friends about you. This is the kind of exposure you need to stay relevant in any field of activity, and the best part is humorous content can be the secret ace up your sleeve allowing you to perfect your marketing strategy, humanize your brand, and get closer to your people. What more could you ask for?

5 Ways to be Funny in Your Content Without Making the Wrong Impression

Content that doesn’t generate positive feelings and emotions is like unseasoned food. If you were really hungry, you would most likely eat it just to keep your stomach happy; nonetheless, if you were to be able to choose your main course from a great variety of mouth-watering options, you would certainly go for food with the right amount of sweetness or spiciness.

Let’s put it this way: humor can be the salt and pepper of your content strategy. However, not everyone is a natural-born entertainer, and mastering the rules of comedy can be quite challenging. Here are five key guidelines that you should follow to be humorous in your content without becoming absurd or ridiculous.

1. Start Small: Smaller projects usually involve fewer risks and concerns and provide the fertile ground for the development and promotion of humorous content.

2. Get Help from the Right People: Most forms of business communications lack humor. This is the ugly truth that you will have to deal with sooner or later. Fortunately, you can improve this situation by welcoming the right people on board. Get help internally from some of your most creative staff members; when in need, don’t hesitate to establish a mutually beneficial collaboration with an agency or a local comedy club. Look for the talented, funny people in your company who understand the nature and rigors of your business. This will be an invaluable asset for your company.

3. Timing is Everything: According to ClickZ, timing is an extremely important aspect you should factor in to determine when you should actually make humorous content become a part of your marketing strategy. In this context, it would be best to create amusing copy at the beginning of the buying cycle for a very pertinent reason: as soon as they feel the need to make a final call, prospects require content that is more serious and 100% geared towards valid responses to their problems, concerns, and demands.

4. Go for the Surprise Element: Unexpected, well-balanced contrasts and the element of surprise work best when using humor to create a more powerful connection with your audience and accentuate the cool factor of your product, service or brand. Start by creating a compelling story around the goods you’re promoting. Very few items available for sale can actually be considered funny by definition; but the people who buy and use them, and the ways in which these products are being used can be quite humorous.

You could increase the desirability of a truly mundane object by stimulating your readers to imagine a chuckle-inspiring situation revolving around it, its usage, features, and the environments in which it could be utilized by its buyers. The best part is you can count on a great variety of surprise elements to perfect your copy for the love of laughter and good marketing. In an article entitled 10 Brands Whose Visual Facebook Content Tickles Us to the Bone, Hubspot inventories a few of the most effective visuals that keep readers engaged and entertained. From the funny and original images correlated with caption contests introduced by Foodler to the laughable fan and celebrity quotes associated with comical situations envisioned by Pringles, such strategies are successful because they reinvent the mundane by encouraging people to see everyday things from a different perspective; a funnier one.

5. Always Keep it Tasteful: Whichever path you choose to follow when it comes to crafting emotion-rich content meant to make your readers laugh until they cry, stay in the safe zone by avoiding distasteful jokes and controversial topics that could offend or infuriate your audience.

Here’s the Problem: Don’t Cross the Fine Line Between Offensive and Humorous

In some extreme cases, humorous content can work against you by harming your online reputation. In such situations, the comic side is usually misused.

Quite a few giant companies have learned this lesson the hard (and shameful) way. For instance, Kenneth Cole tried to bond with its audience by exploring its humor in a completely inappropriate manner. As Social Media Examiner points out, their insensitive #Cairo tweet reading Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online generated a wide range of negative reactions and indignation among its followers.

This completely untactful move proves that comical aspects are not always compatible real life situations.

There is a very thin line between offensive and entertaining content and those who cross it always suffer the consequences. Therefore, when it comes to writing with tongue in cheek, it is highly recommended to keep your copy clean, honest and relatable. Most importantly, don’t try too hard. Nobody likes comedians who laugh at their own jokes.

Don’t Leave Your Content Lacking: Find Someone Who’s Humorous, if You’re Not

A rule of thumb for humor and content? Don’t leave your content without it. A fun, tasteful dash of wit is a very good thing. But if you don’t have the knack, you run the risk of crossing a dangerous line. How do you avoid this issue? It is simple: invest in professional writing services and work closely with real talents who can add new depths to the unique humorous side of your brand.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Evgenia Pashkova via Shutterstock
In-post Photo: Ljupco Smokovski via Shutterstock

Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster, and serial content marketer. She’s the founder of Express Writers, a... Read Full Bio
Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy
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  • Mario

    This are great guidelines to follow-up on next projects. Shared and subscribed. Thank you Julia

    • Julia McCoy

      Glad you enjoyed Mario!

  • R.Rogerson

    As with most aspects of Content Creation – you really need to know your audience.

    Types of humour and market type require serious consideration.
    Depending on the education level of your audience, certain forms of wit may go missed.
    Low-brow humour may not be suitable to certain subjects, nor appeal to certain audience types.
    Industry references may be wasted on non-industry readers.

    Then you have to decide if you go with puns and word play, innuendo, taboo references, humorous comparisons, personal anecdotes of a funny nature etc. etc. etc.
    Then style … do you make such additions/inclusions as asides, ( – or (bracket) them). Do you include them as part of the main content? Do you put them in a separate block (like a pull quote)?

    Things to avoid?
    Blatant use of bad language (Unless your audience is more than comfortable with it).
    Don’t touch negative news about socially unacceptable occurrences (things including children, animals, rape etc.).
    Don’t even reference events that caused mass loss of life (9-11, hurricanes, earth quakes etc.).

    And, most important of all – ensure that you test the material. You would do this by passing it along to your focus group, which of course you do have, yes?
    (Wait – did you say “No”? Oh dear. Creating a strong relationship with a handful of your existing client/customer base is a very good idea. Give them access to new info/material, and get their loyalty and likely additional benefits like shares, reviews etc.)

    • Julia McCoy

      All excellent thoughts you shared. I would condone every one of them. It is never ok to make a joke about negative news. I think Dominoes Pizza did this to play on a news story about sex trafficking…something about the girl wanted pizza. NOT funny!!! Humor is an area you do have to tread carefully in… offense is on the other side of the danger line.

      However, if you use it a) tastefully b) and in the correct contexts (a funny joke to open your mail campaign… a funny joke blended in a blog concept..etc), humor can be a great way to engage with your audience.

      GREAT HUMOR EXAMPLE. (Yes, I should have added this to the blog.) You usually can’t go wrong with a cartoon illustration for a blog. One person who does great with this is Henneke Duistermaat:

      • R.Rogerson

        The problem with humour is that many forms of it is based the on misfortune of others. Even the classics like Laurel and Hardy and other slapstick humour is based on other peoples problems or pain.

        Safer bets are things like puns, word-play, exaggeration etc.

        The key thing is to test-run it. Make other people get to have a look at it and give you some feed back before publishing it. If at all possible, run it past someone who is your opposite personality wise. This helps avoid things like polarisation and clique.
        If they say tasteless, offensive or plain not funny – you should seriously consider ditching it (regardless of the little ranting ego voice railing that it is funny :D)

        If only the readers understood the depths content creators go to …

      • R.Rogerson

        Oh, and before it slips my mind — Thank You.
        It’s nice to see someone actually respond to a comment other than the “that was great” ones.

        Very much appreciated!

      • Julia McCoy

        These two things, YES:
        “Safer bets are things like puns, word-play, exaggeration etc.

        The key thing is to test-run it.”
        We do wordplay all the time. It might be *corny* to a few, but something like this in our industry (content marketing) will always put a smile on that marketer’s face:
        Our scheduled Friday social post: ” If the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, then lefties are the only ones in their right mind. #Wordplay #TGIF ”

        Your comments are very insightful. Thank you for sharing – and I hate the authors who copy/paste reply too!

  • Jonathan Foster

    Great article Julia!

    I know I tend to follow bloggers (and companies) who keep things lighthearted. I always appreciate it if they know when to be serious though. Like you said it can be a tough balance.

    I’ve heard of several bloggers and even executives taking improv classes to help with their content and/or negotiations in the company, and that seems to help a lot of people get a feel for what is okay and what is not. It also just makes business more fun when you’re around those people 🙂

    Great article, looking forward to more!

    • Julia McCoy

      Hi Jonathan, Thanks for reading & commenting. LOVE the improv class idea! I know the humor you can see in improv is often pretty awesome.

  • Brad Haws

    Thanks for addressing this topic. I have always tried to incorporate humor in my writing, but because of some bad experiences I have somebody else check what I’ve written before going live. Either I have a sense of humor that is not in the main stream or the people I ask to review it have a limited sense of humor. I know when Outpost did the TV add where they shot the gerbil out of the cannon, it was questionable, but it was extremely successful for them. So, the pay off for the right kind of humor is great, but the risk is huge if you manage to offend the wrong group. I think that’s why most people take the safe road and just don’t use any humor at all.

    • Julia McCoy

      Brad, very interesting example there with Outpost! I haven’t heard of them. Good point to raise about the thin line of offending when it comes to humor. I’ve found that it takes a very tactful humorous writer.

  • Sanjay Sajeev

    It is an innovative idea to include humor element in a content. Everybody likes to laugh. Then why don’t we try to make our readers laugh through blog content. Automatically, we get more love from them.

    I am person who likes to make others laugh. But when i say comedy to my friends, it becomes tragedy. I hope my humor in blog content will make my readers laugh

  • Sangam KR

    It is not easy to club humor in selling products. The visitors trying to buy a product look for value added features but not humor. I am not able to visualize a product promotion pitch with humor. May be a very great idea. As you have mentioned in your article ‘timing’ is important to add humor to the content. I am eagerly looking for a sales promotion content with ‘humor’. I personally appreciate if you can lead me to such successful content.

  • Himanshu

    These are some really useful tips. How can we avoid adding too much humor in our posts? I’m afraid that if we add too much humor on our post it will be considered as useless. What do you think ?

    • Julia McCoy

      Too much humor is definitely not what you want to do. Go for useful above humor. If that means you drain out all humor, no problem. But if you can open your blog with a reference to Slim Shady like I did in my last SEJ post (, great!

  • James Page

    Its great to see an article that outline where humour is appropriate. It like alot of things it is common sense and it just needs an inspired person to jog our memories. Its writers like yourself that can make “the light bulb moment” for the reader and make them take action.