A little humour goes a long way online

An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…

That joke did the rounds on Twitter in early 2011 and the reason it was so popular was – well, let’s just say it wasn’t SEO.

It’s widely understood that emotional engagement is the key to viral content. Emotions are contagious so sharing content that evokes emotion has become a commonplace way to connect with others on an emotional level when we can’t see them face to face.

High-energy emotions, like anger, awe and surprise, tend to have far more shareability than their low-energy counterparts like sadness. But the uncontested winner when it comes to content that goes viral is humour.

This could be because humour often combines the two leading characteristics of viral content: it’s positive and it’s surprising. According to Fast Company, “Articles, posts, or videos that evoke positive emotions have greater viral potential than something that evokes negative feelings, but both do a better job recruiting clicks than neutral content.” When something makes us feel good we want to share that feeling with people we care about or those we seek an emotional connection with.

Similarly, the unexpected, or content carrying the element of surprise, elicits a high-energy emotion – and when that surprise has a positive result it’s an experience we want others to relate with too. Contagious emotion equals shareable content.

Here are three of our favourite examples of humorous content by local brands.

Garagista – The Hipster Hijacking

Cape Town craft beer Garagista launched their label with this hilarious YouTube video showing hipsters hijacking their beer truck. Playing on the notoriety of hipsters to revel in anything limited edition, they invited people to upload pictures of hipsters – suspects who could be linked to the hijacking.

The campaign centres on Garagsista taking back craft beer (from hipsters) and producing a product that’s more about the beer than the image. They followed the video with a great series of posters with the strapline “All beer. No bullshit.” featuring lines like “While hipsters were cutting their jeans into tiny shorts, we were cutting the crap from craft beer.” Find more gems like this one on their Facebook page.

While you were crafting your moustache, we were crafting our beer


Sanlam – The One Rand Man

For the month of July (National Savings Month) Sanlam is running a campaign pitched as a social experiment. Called the One Rand Man, the campaign  takes the humorous concept of one man paying for everything he buys this month with R1 coins. After having his entire salary paid out in R1 coins and having all his bank accounts blocked and debit orders stopped, he proceeds to do just this – while tracking his progress on social media and releasing weekly episodes in a five-part documentary series. You know content marketing is working when it reaches national news, gaining free airtime the way a traditional ad campaign never could. Follow him on Twitter at @OneRandMan.

Brandhouse – Drive Dry

Back in 2011, local agency FoxP2 brought out the Drive Dry “They’d Love To Meet You” campaign. The last line of the TVC – “Pappa wag vir jou” – went viral on social media when Shrien Dewani’s extradition to South Africa was announced – two years later. That longevity just shows how much their humorous campaign has penetrated collective consciousness.

A little humour certainly goes a long way online.