Want more followers? Show your funny side on social media

Lighten up a stuffy news feed and show some personality to win over new customers.

During Internet Week, I braved the Manhattan heat with a couple of colleagues to learn from professional comedians how to use humor effectively on social media.

The star-studded panel for this event included Witstream CCO Michael Ian Black, Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock fame, comedian Sara Benincasa, and Alf LaMont, vice president of marketing and development at The Comedy Store.

Though much of the discussion focused on how comedians use Twitter and Facebook to market themselves, you can apply their advice to businesses looking to build their brand on these platforms.

Here are five tips from the panel to help make your social media feed more fun:

1. Find what makes you stand out.

A brand often jumps out to consumers because it offers something unique. If you provide your audience with something quirky or different, they are more likely to be interested in what you have to say. Taco Bell is a great example. It often uses comedy on Twitter to engage with customers, helping it to stand out from its competitors.

2. Find your niche, and market to it.

Too often a brand isn’t able to identify what makes it successful, or it tries to become something it’s not. Avoid this by embracing those who embrace you. In business terms, cater to those who want to use your product or service, even if they aren’t your original target.

3. People follow you on Twitter to interact, so interact with them.

Twitter helps consumers to see a more human side to your business, and simple interactions with your followers can go a long way. Sara Benincasa described how she became a lifelong customer of Delta Airlines because of the company’s witty reply to a praise-filled tweet of hers. It’s amazing what one tweet can do!

4. Internet does not always equate to real life.

Though the panel illustrated this point by discussing the difference between performing standup comedy and filming funny YouTube videos, it’s important for companies to understand this idea when they interact with customers. Brand representatives should maintain a similar demeanor online and in the real world, but understand that e-consumers have different traits from those of traditional customers who shop at brick-and-mortar stores.

5. Attract people with a human side before segueing into business.

People want to be entertained when they’re online, so if a company is constantly shoving coupons at them instead of taking a second to interact, the company can lose potential customers. Get people interested in what your company has to say by tweeting thought-provoking ideas or interesting bits of information. This will make your followers more open to promotions and company updates.

Companies shouldn’t be afraid to try new things with social media, but ultimately they need to do what feels comfortable to them. The great—and potentially hazardous—aspect of social media is the instantaneous feedback it provides. As long as companies stick to their core messages, they shouldn’t be scared to implement these tips to engage with their customers.

What are some of your tips for companies looking to integrate humor into their social media strategy?

Thomas McHardy is an account executive at Affect, a public relations and social media firm based in New York City. He is a regular contributor to the company’s TechAffect blog, where this article originally ran.

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