The Psychology of Humor in Social Media Marketing

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Humor is a universal language. What’s funny to you is generally funny to other people, no matter their affinities, beliefs, cultures, language, and tradition. Sure, some humor that is plain offensive for other cultures but if you eliminate that factor, humor is humor in its most basic sense. We use laughter to express our joy and even our frustrations. When we get frustrated at life, we use humor to lift ourselves. No wonder that companies are using memes and other funny posts on social media to get their market’s attention.

Do you know that humorous content gets more share on social media? Brands that know how to use humor in their marketing messages are more effective on social media. They get more likes, comments, and shares. Most of the time, their posts go viral, too.

High Emotions

This is the reason why you sometimes find yourself looking for the best and latest meme generator. When you think of an idea that you want to share in a humorous way on social media, you will use memes to spread that information. Why do social media users love humorous and funny posts? Such posts become popular because of their ability to produce high-arousal emotions. It’s not the message of the post itself, but the emotion that it evokes from the users.

Studies of memes, for example, said that the quality of the memes’ content or the truthfulness in the message is not the important component for them going viral. Instead, people share funny posts and memes when they have high emotional appeal. Whether the appeal evokes positive or negative emotions doesn’t matter. For social media users, the more heightened emotions they feel about a post, the more likely they are going to share them with their network.

Science of Social Media

social media

How many hours a day do you spend on social media? Social media addiction isn’t a new concept nor is it all in your heads. Studies said that browsing your Facebook and Instagram news feed triggers the release of dopamine and oxytocin, humans’ happy hormones.Dopamine is a pleasure chemical in the brain. It causes people to want something and it is triggered by reward cues and bits of information — exactly the way social media is formulated. Do you know that dopamine is so strong that research shows it is harder to stop yourself from tweeting your thoughts than resist smoking and drinking alcohol?

What about oxytocin? This is the hormone in your brain when you fall in love. Cuddles and kisses trigger the release of oxytocin. Studies showed that oxytocin is also the result of tweeting or posting on social media. When you tweet, your oxytocin levels rise as much as 13%. Because of this, social media users are more likely to be trustworthy than those who don’t use social media at all.

Positive Feelings

Humorous posts create positive feelings. Humans are innately addicted to positive emotions; so much so that people forget 60% of negative experiences and only 42% of positive experiences. On social media, people will easily forget a bad marketing video but will always remember those that made a positive impact on them. At times, social media users will think about the video long after the brand’s relevancy faded.

For example, Kmart’s “I Shipped My Pants” is still a popular video making rounds on social media from time to time. That is true even as Kmart continued its path to oblivion. Simply put, your brand’s ability to use humor in its post will make you relevant both in the short- and long-term.

So, how can you create a funny post that will evoke a positive response from your audience? It’s a bit tricky to know what your audience wants. You can stay on the safe side of the fence, but you risk never going viral. Or, you can experiment by posting extremes — one that is too benign and another that is bordering on offensive. It’s risky, but it will give you an insight into what your audience finds funny. Gaining an understanding of your audience’s mentality will empower your business to create more effective social media marketing posts.

Funny posts create an emotional response that cannot be replicated by any other marketing strategies. When you make your audience laugh, they will remember your post and that will create a bond with them. Not all companies are great at making their audience laugh so you have to test if it’s the right approach for you. That’s why social media exists. The ability to test your audience is one of the benefits of being on these platforms.


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