The joke doesn’t even have to be a good one. It can’t be offensive but that’s the only limitation. Organisations today sell their services as much on their values and their personality as they do on their products.

And every marketer knows this but there is still an enormous fear to break out from the old mould of being serious and, well, ‘corporate.’

Now, if the CIA and the Swedish secret police can do it, then so can pretty much anyone.

The CIA’s first tweet is somewhat famous now.

 

and the Swedish secret police – “For safety’s sake, we’ve started a Twitter feed. Follow us. We’re following you!”

 

 

Neither brand has lost anything on tweets like that. They have done rather the opposite – gained credibility and showed that they are people too. It’s made them more human and maybe even an organization that you could think about getting in touch with if you had relevant information for them. And that’s what they want.

So, I’m not suggesting that everyone starts their next Facebook status update with ‘a guy walks into a bar….’ but there is, without question, room to show personality and the vast array of new communications channels (I think we call them social media) allows you to have a personality.

Because these days, we want to talk to the brand, ask a question and we want a human answer. I would say to any company that they should think of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat etc as a wonderful opportunity to show a human side: a personality.

I understand the fear but I also understand the need to get over it.

For some reason, social media allows you the forum to be yourself that other forums don’t allow in quite the same way. At a press conference, there’s rarely people cracking jokes up at the front. The forum doesn’t lend itself to humour so easily.

Press releases have no reason to be funny. They have every reason to be newsworthy and well-written but they are not usually for entertainment.

Social media channels are shallower, more short-lived, with higher publication frequency and users want to see personality. They want to be entertained.

Back in my native country Ireland, the Police there, known as Garda Siochana have been using humour on Twitter. They use it sparingly but they use it well when giving information via Twitter. Here’s their latest.

 

Thousands commented positively on the tweet. The youngsters on Twitter called it ‘such a Dad joke’ and ‘perhaps the worst joke I’ve ever heard’ but at the same time, it didn’t really matter. Somebody made a smart remark to them and they answered back equally smart and the Irish police are now creating a dialogue with the public which is a vital part of their work.

And a few years ago, the brand conversation of the year took place and never seemed to end. It’s now click-bait material on Buzzfeed.

So, don’t be afraid. We admire the brands that let their hair down a little, that give us a sense that they are not always serious, that they are humans too. Social media channels are excellent platforms for this and even blog posts. Hey, if I could think of an hilariously funny last sentence to this blog post I would…

/Colm