Office scene, man boss says to woman comms pro: Our work is too serious to amuse people, Sandra. Juts put out more dry info and news please.'People tell me that they can’t do humour on social media, or any fun content, because their comms is for an organisation that does important work.

“It’s very serious indeed, the tone would be way off if we were to get all jokey”

“We can’t be light-hearted when our work helps people going through dark times”

“Our bosses just want us to promote good work, not indulge in chit chat”

WRONG.

Well, maybe not wrong exactly. But definitely misguided.

I often share this quote from John Cleese:

 

"Too many people confuse being serious with being solemn"

 

Solemnity and seriousness are not the same thing.

Solemn people aren’t approachable, or particularly likeable.

Your audience isn’t spending all of their lives going around being straight-faced and emotionless.

So why should we?

How many of us would be happy with this as our brand tone of voice?

Screenshot from online dictionary (demonstrating why humour on social media is needed): "Solemn: Adjective, serious and without sny humour. a solemn face/voice, solemn music, everyine looked very solemnictionary defnition

As Cleese says in the two minute video below: “Solemnity serves pomposity and the self important“.

Screenshot of video where John Cleese is blowing a big raspberry, as he discusses the pointlessness of solemnity

 

We know that’s not what attracts people’s attention in a noisy and complex world.

The solemn comms our bosses often demand is the kind of thing we all scroll past on our phones.

Because each and every day, we rarely have a quick check of our favourite social media channel to be informed, or be preached at.

We go there for a few moments to be distracted or amused.

“The more serious our work is, the more crucial it is to be light-hearted, funny and creative.”

That’s a quote from me.

I’m not quite the comedy genius that Cleese is, but I have found myself saying it lots lately.

We have important, powerful, behaviour-changing messages to share. and conversations that need to be had.

We’re not going to get anyone’s attention being boring.

We’re not going to build trust and dialogue by being distant and worthy.

It’s why I drew this silly unicorn, for instance.

Cartoon, "The Comms Unicorn": flies over chaos, sweats engaging content, poos insights

 

Because I’m serious about reminding comms people how talented they are. It made some people smile, got shared, and it provoked conversation about the role and skills comms professionals have.

 

The business case for humour on social media

If you work for important and serious not-for-profit organisations like councils, charities, & housing associations, you can use humour online to get huge reputation wins, masses more engagement & positive media coverage.

According to Sprout Social research:

 

3 in 4 consumers appreciate humour from brands

 

You won’t please everybody, but a huge chuck of your audience WILL enjoy it.

Which is better than everybody ignoring it (which is what happens to most solemn comms).

• Humour helps you grow an audience (because people are happy to subscribe to things that make them smile)

• It gets your people feeling good about your brand (especially important if you do serious or controversial work)

• It shows you as being relevant and authentic (which doesn’t feature as part of the reputation of many big brands)

You can try being full-on funny – like cracking a joke or a filming a video comedy sketch, or it can just be something simple that makes people smile.

Doncaster Council often have a little fun.

 

Our training has taught East Midlands Ambulance Service the benefits of being lighthearted and invite a little silliness.

They know how to keep it fun and relevant, and you’ll see from the comments, how much people enjoyed joining in with this.

And load of brands joined in with some Weetabix/baked beans-related jokes recently.

You can do it too, with a few guidelines and some inspiration.

But what if I can’t change our change of voice where I work?

Our work cultures can feel a bit like school where messing about is frowned upon and having a laugh is perceived as slacking.

And trying new methods and approaches feels like you’re being naughty because that’s not how teacher says we should do things.

But your colleague, boss, or your chief exec isn’t a teacher trying to reign in misbehaving kids.

And you’re not a child in a classroom.

You’re an adult with a job to find the best ways to communicate.

It’s good to play and be creative, it’s actually what excellent expert communicators do.

And most of the content from brands that we personally engage with and enjoy, (as people, not comms pros) – is FUN and CREATIVE.

You don’t have to write a new and fancy tone of voice guide that gets signed off and sits on your intranet gathering digital dust.

If it’s difficult to do this where you work, you can gradually soften the tone, at your own pace:

• from always solemn

• to a little more light-hearted

• to enjoying creativity and humour once a week

to one day making your brand be like a pal who’s friendship you value most, who you can laugh and chat to and talk deep and meaningful stuff with too.

You can give it a tiny push in the right direction.

And we have a class on how you can inject some comedy into your comms coming up…

 

How To Use Humour On Social Media

WEDNESDAY 30TH JUNE, 1PM – 3PM

Being funny on social media doesn’t have to be just for the big consumer brands.

You can do this in your work, and be the person who made your brand seem human and likeable.

Even dry or serious corporate brands can find ways to tap into their audience’s sense of humour.

We’re NOT talking controversial stuff. There are ways to be funny that don’t make your brand sound like Jim Davidson.

These comedy skills will be about giving you the skills to make warm, pleasant or quirky in-jokes for your audience.

I’ll show you how to use a comedic approach for your brand in this live video masterclass on June 30th.

We’ll look at:

🔶How be be a funny brand on social media (without messing it up)

🔶Creative communications lessons we can learn from comedians

🔶Easy wins to make your audience smile

Join us for £150 +VAT for non-members

Social Media Comms Academy members get to come to the comedy masterclass, and ALL our training for free 😊

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