Thought leadership content truly sets a company or individual apart from others and elevates their brand, but to do so, it has to be effective and connect with its audience. Dry and bland are the last things you want in your content. While it should be warm and have some excitement, take it even a little further and make it funny.
The ability to have some fun, make fun of ourselves, and cause a few laughs gives your content a profundity that other content can’t match. Humor reflects our ability to stay down to earth, know our audience, and capture their attention. It is establishing bold leadership.
Have Fun With Thought Leadership Content
Being a problem child, I always have something witty to fit in somewhere and occasionally do so while writing content for others (because I can’t help myself). Usually, it’s a hit, but sometimes people want to take themselves too seriously, ending up with content that’s more like “Long-term efficacy and safety of moderate-intensity statin with ezetimibe combination therapy versus high-intensity statin monotherapy in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (RACING): a randomized, open-label, non-inferiority trial” found on page 380 of this month’s The Lancet medical journal.
Yes, I just did that. Did you chuckle a bit? You also got my point and want to read on so your content doesn’t end up only acceptable for the back pages of a scientific journal. That chuckle acknowledged that what I said was true. Later today, you might even start looking at content and asking yourself if it should be online or in the Lancet.
And by the way, there is nothing wrong with scientific journals, and I don’t mind reading a copy of Nature, but I have this almost 100% certainty that you’re not going to reach your customers through them. Well… unless your company sells the mice for medical trials.
The brilliant British comedian and Monty Python member John Cleese once said, “If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it, you acknowledge its truth.”
Once people acknowledge what you say is truth, viola!, you’ve established thought leadership. Using a little humor, you’ve become a thought leader, who makes profound statements, fosters an emotional connection, and is memorable.
Which Company Will Your Customer Use?
Go online and search “does the customer want to buy from someone funny” or anything similar, and what comes up is article after article that says being funny drives business. Hilarious Amazon reviews have turned products into massive sales hits. My daughter’s generation hates fast food but likes Wendy’s because they hilariously troll Burger King and McDonald’s on Twitter.
You don’t have to get to the near absurd point of reviews of the Three Wolf One Moon t-shirt on Amazon, which I and about five friends all own, but a little bit of fun results in consumers that reward brands with loyalty, repeat purchases, and advocacy.
According to Oracle, 41% of customers walk away from a brand if it doesn’t make them smile or laugh regularly. If the brand makes them smile or laugh, 80% of customers are likelier to buy from it again, 72% choose the brand using humor over the competition, and 80% are more likely to recommend it to others.
Consider taking the stage at a conference where you’ll speak for 10 minutes about your product to a room of executives. After you talk, your competitor speaks for another 10 minutes. You think, “This is a room of serious people that want to grow earnings.” Then, proceed to talk about the market environment and the detailed features of your product down to exactly how it will grow revenue.
Your competitor starts with a joke about current market conditions and peppers their speech with little bits of humor, often paired with the great results they bring to their client. They go nowhere near as in-depth or technical about the product as you did and finish with, “If you’d like to know more, come chat with me at the reception.”
Who is seen as the thought leader and talks to more of the executives later on? Which of you is profound? Yep. It’s the funny one.
Make Your Content Strategy Funny and Profound
As I have said before, content must be consistent across all channels as your customer journeys through the internet. You can’t infuse a little comedic relief here or there and not be uniform. Make it a standard mantra for your content team. If they promote a new article on social media, some of the fun must be infused into the social media post to match the article.
Beyond matching the tone of shared thought leadership pieces, the content strategy should carry that little bit of fun into everything. The result will be much higher engagement, more people finishing their journey at your website, and increased creativity from your content team.
Plan on a big win if you can take common problems in the industry or segment you serve and make them consistently comical. That is the surest way to connect and be profound right from the start of customer engagement.
Expect Internal Benefits
Companies that embrace humor in their content will see that reflected in their offices and people, and the benefits are immense. Productivity and employee satisfaction explode when even just a bit more humor comes into the workspace.
Bring a local improv comedy guru in for a few hours of training and watch the ideas explode afterward. Believe it or not, thought leadership ideas and approaches will blossom, and your content will blow everyone else out of the water.
Be Judicious in the Use of Humor
If you’re now thinking, “Let’s go make everything funny!” hold back there, cowboy. Your company isn’t about to become the George Carlin of software, sprockets, or whatever you do. Use enough to engage and create a little fun, but don’t push it. Overdoing it can erode the thought leadership it helped you establish in the first place. The goal is to be profound and foster agreement, not start the “Company X Comedy Tour, Now coming to a town near you.”
Dip Your Toe in the Water
Try a little humor in your content and gauge the response. How did that feel? Now repeat. Before you know it, it’s second nature.
Making your content fun to read, slightly humorous, and profound in its observations will pay dividends. Your thought leadership will grow, and customer contact will increase. Overall, all of your content will improve and attract more readers. Now go out there and have fun being a thought leader.