Go Viral (And Live to Tell the Tale)

Dollar Shave Club

How humor helps create shareable content

It doesn’t matter what your friend who just got hired as a ‘Creative Director’ at that startup says: there’s no way to guarantee something goes viral. Believe me, if there was I wouldn’t be on the couch eating leftovers. However, there are ways to give your content a fighting chance in an oversaturated marketplace.

No, you don’t have to swallow a sword or jump over a speeding car that’s on fire or swim with sharks that are somehow also on fire — or whatever the cool kids on YouTube are doing these days. There’s actually a tangible method that marketing professionals can implement today to create work that’s more engaging, shareable, and memorable. That method? Humor.

You’ve heard it again and again: Humor is powerful. It can help us discuss uncomfortable topics, understand complex concepts, and even feel healthier. But humor also has business value, and can help get millions of eyes on your product or company. In fact, 69% of the global ads that raised the most awareness were considered humorous, according to research done by Millward Brown. And that’s no surprise.

Let’s take a look at four of the primary reasons why.

Humor builds trust

At the end of the day, partnering comes down to trust. That’s true whether you’re building a friendship, romance, or business relationship. When you trust something, you’re more likely to engage with it — what’s more, you’re more likely to recommend it to others. Humor accomplishes exactly that.

That’s because laughing releases oxytocin, a hormone that increases trust and causes us to open up, and, ya know, talk about our feelings. In a 2015 study, psychologists discovered that participants who watched humorous clips revealed 30% more personal information than those who watched a clip lacking any humor. Whaaat?!? Don’t just take my word for it, read the study! The bottom line: If you get your audience to trust you (and if you’re trustworthy), everything else follows.

Humor is relatable

Have you ever been trapped on the outside of an inside joke? It’s like when you get locked outside of your apartment with no keys in the dead of winter, but a lot worse. I’m from Minnesota I would know. Everyone else, having fun…laughing…bonding. Humor brings people together. Just think of it as the original Apples to Apples. That game rocks.

Research says that people who laugh together stay together — or at least like each other more. Because when we laugh, we’re really doing so much more. We’re letting someone know we relate to them. We’re creating a more positive atmosphere. Laughing takes a conversation one step further. Not only are you hearing the words, but you’re understanding them and reacting with an appropriate, and genuine, action. It’s an exercise in active communication. This is why your friends tag you on Facebook under all those viral BuzzFeed videos.

Humor is memorable

Everyone wants to be remembered. This is true whether you’re an A-list actor or a First Grade teacher. By the way, I loved your class, Ms. Runke. But with so much information constantly at our fingertips, how do you make your work stand out? Humor, of course.

Why is humor memorable? First off, laughter releases dopamine, which helps our memory and information processing capabilities. NOT TO MANSPLAIN OR ANYTHING. A 2007 study found that couples with positive memories of laughing together were more satisfied in their relationships than couples who had positive memories that did not involve laughing. That’s no laughing matter. Additionally, a 2009 study found that humor can replace negative memories and distract the brain from discomfort. Basically, if you want someone to remember something you said, throw some humor into it.

Humor pushes boundaries

While there’s no shortage of arguments in favor of using humor, the most simple reason is that it’s innovative and original. Humor gives your audience something new and unexpected — the ultimate misdirection. Did you know that humor is associated with higher intelligence? Now ya do.

People even view advertisements that use humor as more creative and edgy, and as a result are more likely to reach out for information to learn more. We’re always looking for the next hot craze. It might as well be whatever crazy idea your team is willing to push the envelope on.

Successful Campaigns Using Humor

Dollar Shave Club

Nespresso

Mac vs PC

And of course…

Tide

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