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What’s So Funny? – Making Your Videos Stand Out with Humor

As smartphones reshape the way we interact with the world, video has become the medium du jour for marketers and business owners alike.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by creating a bond with your audience. Does the audience feel something when seeing your latest video? Is an emotion triggered when someone sees your message or an image? If not, you might be getting overlooked, forgotten or even downright ignored.

It’s a tough challenge to overcome without an easy solution or decades of best practices from which to draw inspiration. So why not crack a joke?

Sure, we’re all hardworking professionals who have little time for excessive shenanigans. But, when implemented properly, humor is an important tool that can take your product, service or brand exponentially further than using a standard, information-heavy approach. When you provide your audience with something that triggers an emotion — in this case humor — it makes a lasting impact.

“Businesses can use humor in videos to get more customers because it’s fun. And fun is, well, fun,” said Eric Allen, Video Producer at REL Productions. “There aren’t too many people that genuinely hate laughing. Ultimately, it elicits emotion and that is remembered.”

Ever wonder why some of the biggest brands use advertisements that are completely random or unexpected? Where amusing non-sequiturs and rampant silliness seem to take precedence over an actionable message?  It’s because the “here’s-why-our-product-is-the-best” approach rarely establishes a bond with your audience. Frankly, it’s boring, predictable and doesn’t reward people for their time and attention.

Of course, an understanding of your client’s priorities is key.

“When we’re writing for video and injecting humor into that, we really have to look at our audience and look at the company. It’s important to determine what the audience is expecting and what the company’s style is,” explained Eric. “Not every company wants to be funny. Sometimes, serious and straightforward is the best approach.”

Eric adds that when it comes to humor in video, it can be portrayed in a million different ways. Additionally, different people have different styles or senses of humor, which can make humor in video challenging.

Types of humor in video
As we know from real-life experience, surprise is known to trigger a comedic response. We can all remember a time that someone said something completely out of the blue or did something totally unexpected. The initial reaction was “Wow, how did that just happen!” and after the shock wears off, a feeling of “Wow that was hilarious. I mean, who does that?” kicks in.

A good zinger might get you good mileage. But it’s important to remain tasteful in your execution – which is the tricky part. Consider running your ideas by a group so a team can filter down to a message that’s funny, but not out-of-line.

“It’s important to keep the message clear and have the humor supplement that,” Eric said. “Ultimately, it really is just writing a script and punching it up with funny bits. Writing humor in video is really helpful as a team. Pass it around and get input. Doing so keeps the video on track and the humor tasteful.”

Putting puns to use is one of the easiest ways using humor can go wrong, so tread lightly. A pun is the creative use of words to bring on a new meaning that results in a comedic effect – a play on words so to speak. It’s a string of words that collectively use cleverness to create an “ah-ha” moment. Some people avoid puns altogether, because the likelihood of underdelivering is pretty high if there’s not enough of a bang.

Another tactic is comparison. This type of humor puts two or more things beside each other to create a stark contrast. You’ve seen big brands use this before, from food companies comparing their juicy burger to the crusty old slabs of meat shilled by competitors, to car companies showing you how lame it is to drive a grubby little sub-compact to contrast what it’s like to drive their electric sedan, luxury SUV or built-to-last truck. Many of these comparisons go over the top, and that’s what makes them appeal to our sense of humor. Thing X isn’t necessarily “this much better” than thing Y, but when there’s a sense of humor woven into in the comparison, the consumer appreciates the boldness.

Music plays a huge role in humorous videos (and videos in general). Adding the right music can really drive home the meaning or tone of the video and give you the most bang for your buck. Think of it as the rimshot to your punchline.

“Think about a joke or funny conversation with no music,” explained Eric. “It’s boring and it’s weird. Add in some dramatic music and it adds a whole new tone. Add in the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme and it’s a different tone again. The music and sound effects dramatically enhance the message of the video.”

Humor can add that extra kick your message needs. However, some people might find the humor distracting and sometimes using humor could be distasteful.

Potential pitfalls and how to avoid them
“One of the pitfalls of comedy writing is overloading humor to the point it overtakes the video,” explained Eric. “You don’t want to lose sight of the original intent behind the messaging for your product or service.”

Humor in video is a fine line. It should add to the appeal of the video without undercutting the reputation of your product or business.

Using dark humor in professional communications is particularly difficult. While the audience or company might get a kick out of ironic or grim chuckles, those outside the intended audience are still able to see it and may not understand the messaging.

Fast Company explains that hitting humor just right is an art, and that any comedian will say your humor must be true to who you are. Here is a simple exercise you can perform in order to find your company’s comedic voice:

  • Ask colleagues about the last funny thing they shared, what their favorite comedy show is and who their favorite comedian is. Ask them to categorize their answers.
  • Find examples of the types of humor appreciated by your colleagues. Have people pick their most and least favorite.
  • Ask senior management. Ask your colleagues who deal with customers every day: salespeople, call center operators, drivers and checkout staff. Compare and contrast.
  • The categories with the most votes represent your company’s collective sense of humor.

While not a viable strategy for everyone, developing a comedic voice helps gauge the humor of the company and your employees, and also helps you draw a line of where your comedy can come up to – and hopefully not cross.

Next steps
Whether you’ve realized your videos are falling flat or just want to spice up your video selection with some humor, we have experts ready to work with you. Reach out. We’re ready to give your videos that little kick to get extra views and stay on the minds of your current and future customers.

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At AKC Marketing we honestly assess the perception of your company. We push to market you above your competition. We do this by igniting your inner brand - focusing on what your true value to the marketplace is. To make it impossible to be ignored in your industry.
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