Separate signal from the noise with these outlandish approaches
We keep beating the drum that content marketing success requires making your content stand out. There are many ways to do this, but two favorites are using humor/drama to enhance the emotional triggers of content, and using celebrities/major brands, to co-op an audience. I’m partial to the former when budgets are limited and what follows are 9, slightly ridiculous, content marketing resolutions you might consider for 2015.
Humor comes naturally for me; at the agency I work for, Elasticity, we’ve earned a reputation for frequently injecting humor into content to help it stand out. From H&R Block’s “The ‘ Stache Act” and CafePress’ “#giftcardssuck campaign,” to a B2B campaign where we’re running a silly campaign to elect a CEO Secretary of Labor, we like injecting humor and absurdity into content. These campaigns get attention; often begin conversations that lead to more PR coverage (earned media) and brand interest (lead generation.)
Humor isn’t for every brand or every audience. So you should tread carefully. With that said, if you’re still interested in humor, and you’re looking for some (possibly ridiculous) ideas to jump-start your content in 2015, consider the following list to get clever ideas flowing.
1. Be the meme
Someecards and their ilk have made a mint off taking a small, rectangular image and turning it into gobs of web traffic. A simple icon or drawing with a clever copy pops off the social stream, grabs people’s attention and might even make them click through to your website. Of course, you’ll want to watch out for trademarks and copyrights if you try this method. You don’t imitate or copy Someecards, that’s not cool or legal, but a fun image with a great caption can do wonders for your engagement levels.
2. Be absurd
Whether you’re a fan of comedian Steven Wright or just like a little quirkiness in your day, developing some absurdity in the weird world of social media can help build traction for your brand, fast. Old Spice does a great job of this with definitive statements that have some odd curve thrown in for good measure.
Before there was Twitter, there were great, huge, oceangoing ships. There still are those, too. They’re unrelated.
— Old Spice (@OldSpice) December 17, 2014
3. Adopt an obscure historical figure
Nothing makes people cock their head and wonder like being introduced to factoids they didn’t know. Maybe a long-dead president or composer had some personality quirk that you can milk for your brand. I’ve always wanted to do something around a food brand and William Howard Taft, respectfully of course. But if your brand’s best quality is that you’re thorough and meticulous, you might be able to intrigue people with a “Millard Fillmore was OCD” campaign.
Leveraging curse words is a fine art. Too many people make the mistake of swearing for swearing’s sake. But the strategically crafted F-bomb or “BS” makes for one heck of an attention-getter. Look at Dollar Shave Club’s now famous introduction video. CEO Michael Dubin asked, “Are your blades good? No! They’re f*&#ing great!” There was no need for more swear words. He made a point. And sold a ton of razors, even to me.
5. Use children or pets
W.C. Fields famously said, “Never work with animals or children.” But that was only because they took attention away from him. Cute kids and pets draw people in, why not leverage them? Whether you’re asking them to explain taxes or just inserting a random kitten photo, you’ll likely see more engagement around those posts than your regularly scheduled blah.
6. Obsess about something odd
I call this the Easter Egg approach. You find something seemingly unrelated (bacon, belt buckles, yarn, mustaches, Hong Kong Phooey) and insert them into your images, videos or written content to amuse the customers that get it. Maybe your press releases all have some cleverly placed gangsta rap lyric. Perhaps your images all have a certain cartoon character’s picture in the background. Once someone gets it and starts talking about it, more people will go looking for your next clever play.
7. Forget your pants
A lawyer friend of mine once said, “there’s just no way to make a law firm’s content stand out.” I said, “Yes there is. Every commercial has a lawyer standing in a legal office, surrounded by books and leather, looking very dapper and talking very officially. All you have to do to make that commercial stand out is have him do the same thing, but without pants.” No, this idea is not going to go over well with most law firms, but I’ll guarantee the audience would take notice if they did.
8. Buy a mascot costume
Nothing breaks up a serious video or photograph of business people doing business things better than someone walking by dressed as a cartoon mascot. How much fun are ESPN commercials because random sports mascots walk by, or even participate? The juxtaposition puts people at ease, makes them smile and makes them curious. (For example, “What does a beaver have to do with tax law?”)
9. Ask your audience
If you’re not funny, then turn the tables on your audience. Have a knock-knock joke contest. Throw up a picture from the office and ask them to caption it. There are few content executions better geared to build engagement than smart user-generated content campaigns. So leverage the crowd and get a few laughs for yourself while you’re at it.
Again, humor is not for every brand or audience. It’s also subjective and won’t be taken the same way by all stakeholders or customers. Humor typically needs to be clever rather than crass and playful rather than biting. It should also be on-brand. If your company doesn’t have much of a sense of humor in how it talks about itself to consumers, ideas like this may not work for you. That said, introducing a little personality with a few of the above may lay the foundation for future fun.
What campaigns, content or ideas have you seen from other brands you find funny? Share the best examples in the comments!