There are two inherent truths in modern marketing. Firstly, social media is highly effective for brand awareness and will likely be the dominant form of marketing going forward. Secondly, personality and humour are essential for cutting through the noise on social media.
You might ask, but what about business-to-business (B2B) companies? Is there a place for humour and quirky personality traits in a B2B brand? The answer is a definite yes, although with a serious caveat.
The benefits of humour for brands
As already stated, humour stands out on social media. This is true across the spectrum, whether you’re an individual or B2C or B2B business of any size. Humour is pretty much universally accepted and enjoyed (except when it’s out of place or you’re too sarcastic for your own good).
It does well to remember that everyone is constantly bombarded by advertising, including promotions. And it’s the entertaining bits that most of us remember and don’t mind seeing. Businesses strike gold when users are even eager to share their posts with others so they can get a good chuckle as well.
Regardless of how businesses are viewed, in reality they are nothing more than groups of people with a product or service to sell. Traditionally, there is a level of seriousness connected to B2B brands.
They are expected to preserve their professionalism and always talk business. One might argue that they even view their audience as a faceless organism, but that’s simply not the case.
Any audience is people, and the vast majority of people relate to humor and personality (when it’s relevant of course). So by a simple mathematical equation, funny as well as personable B2B marketing should have a much higher success rate. And the more human the brand seems, the more likely their messages will be shared on various social channels.
The main reason marketers use social media is to reach the largest possible audience and be well received by it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to be memorable, personable and bright, all of which any B2B company can be.
Inspiring examples from B2B brands
So, it’s not only acceptable, but even encouraged to inject some humour into your social media marketing. What else can you do to bring life to an otherwise boring or dry subject, product, or service? Thankfully, B2B brands are catching on to this and here are some recent examples that should inspire you.
Some brands make all of their marketing personable, not just on social media. These are usually new software companies that explain their product or service with illustrations.
For example, the customer communications platform, Intercom, portrays its users as animals. On social networks, the brand also adds emojis to product launch announcements besides their conversational tone (source: Intercom’s Twitter). Other brands such as Mailchimp (mailing software) and Trello (productivity app) also take on a similar approach to their branding.
In 2009, tech giant Intel capitalised on the trend of science geek comedy, popularised by shows like The Big Bang Theory. The ‘Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow’ campaign highlighted how Intel is not just a processor maker, but also a brand.
One of the best examples from this ad campaign is the Rockstar ad which shows how valued inventors are to this company. They have carried on creating inspiring videos, featuring inventors of any age or location.
Finally, another tech giant, Cisco, created a series of highly informative, but funny video series this year. Cisco’s ‘Slow Waiter’ video was recognised as a great B2B marketing example by The Drum.
The brand also did a rather humorous video in 2013, with a Valentine’s Day theme for their ASR 9000 series routers. Hardly a romantic subject, but with the clever use of vintage images and music, they succeeded in producing quite a few laughs.
Don’t attract tumbleweed: don’t fall flat
Before you rush off to make a series of quirky videos (or even posts) for your upcoming social media campaign, remember about your audience. They are professionals and expect your content to be related to your company in one way or the other. Don’t break that promise, rather build on your brand values and aim to add value.
While the above examples are not just acceptable but brilliant, the danger of having the opposite results is always a possibility. Usually brands get one or two chances at this and the risk of failure increases exponentially when the creative is rushed or the execution is poor.
So, you must have a strategy in place and clearly set objectives of what you want this content to achieve. Is it brand awareness, or another way how to explain a complicated product or service? Maybe it’s to inspire the new generation to work in your industry or even for your own company.
You will also need a team to help you create the content. It’s possible you already have all the necessary skills, but if you don’t, hire someone and develop your humorous campaign with them. After all, Cisco’s Creative Director, Tim Washer, spent part of his career as a comedian and freelance writer for The Late Show.
Tracking and measuring results is just as important as creating high-quality content. Using quality social media management software can help you keep track of your campaigns just as much as schedule them in advance. With features like sentiment analysis and keyword monitoring you can see how users react to your content, and whether it has a bigger impact than your regular posts and videos.
So, should business-to-business brands have a sense of humour and be personable on social media? Taken the content aligns with your business objectives, adds value to your audience and you have the necessary skills to do it – definitely.
Bio: Veronika is a content marketing specialist at Sendible.com. As of today, she has five years of social media marketing experience under her belt as well as knowledge of SEO, e-commerce and email marketing. Veronika earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in media and cultural studies in 2013.