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Does Humor Help or Hurt My Brand?

corporate humor

Humor can be a powerful tool for many small business owners - if you know how to use it. Some companies make their living on entertaining consumers on a regular basis while others strike social media gold with well-timed tweets. Although comedy can have a drastic impact on your consumer base, small business owners should exercise caution when implementing it in their operations.

As beneficial as comedy can be for your brand, it can have the opposite effect if poorly executed. Businesses that attempt to leverage humor during inappropriate events or merely promote content that many people do not find funny may alienate consumers and cast their brand in a negative light.

Make 'em laugh?

Everyone - even the men in suits - enjoys a good joke every once in a while. Sprinkling a few quips relevant to a trending topic or promotion being run by your brand is a great way to show consumers that your business is both witty and lighthearted, both of which may be crucial for attracting a wider breadth of customers. 

There are many platforms available to your business that are well-suited for humor. Implementing jokes or humorous commentary on social networks is a simple and easy way to spread the word, and, if your brand is lucky, a great way to get viral attention.

Pick your battles wisely

The allure of typing a humorous tweet may be tantalizing, but many brands have learned the hard way that timing is equally imperative to your campaign's success. Recently, Twitter users engaged in an online discussion regarding domestic violence after a video showing football player Ray Rice engaged in a physical altercation with his wife surfaced. Users shared stories of their own battles with domestic abuse, distinguishing their tweets with the hashtag "#WhyIStayed." The movement was meant to draw attention to the horrors brought about by domestic abuse, as well as provide a platform on which survivors could share their stories.

The online community was outraged when DiGiorno Pizza made light of the situation, posting a tweet that read: "#WhyIStayed You had pizza." The business' attempt at humor caused many people on the site to respond to the company, condemning it for using the hashtag as a promotional tool. Upon realizing its error, the company immediately removed the tweet and apologized to its followers, but people remained infuriated with the brand.

All about the office

Michael Kerr, author of "Humor at Work" and "The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank," explained to Forbes that encouraging humor within company culture is crucial for boosting employee satisfaction and loyalty.

"In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves - that are less hierarchical and more innovative - people tend to be more open with their humor," Kerr told the source. "Even people who aren't always comfortable sharing their humor tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humor becomes second nature with everyone's style."

Small business owners should not go placing whoopie cushions around the office, but they should strive to create welcoming and open environments that encourage workers to showcase their personalities and own forms of humor.

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