Hitting the Reader Funny Bone
William Shakespeare once penned, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Now, I’m no Shakespeare, but what if I told you that wit is the soul of content™?
Although seemingly contrived, at the heart of this phrase lies an important truth: adding levity to content, despite what many believe, does not detract from the meat and potatoes of an otherwise “serious” article. In fact, it increases the likelihood of enhancing engagement and, more often than not, can lead to an increase in readership. (And yes, even trademarking your own phrase counts as levity.)
Typically, association content steers clear of comic relief, focusing instead on delivering the thesis and succeeding information in a straightforward manner. But incorporating humor where appropriate can add an edge to the content being published, ultimately making for a more interesting read.
Given the amount of content that is uploaded on a daily basis, it is important to find a way to differentiate the words you are sending into the ether. Humor could very well be your X factor.
Being the subject matter expert, there are ways in which you can lighten the mood of the piece from the get-go, which means your audience will not only consume your funny lines, but they more than likely will remember the point of your article. In other words, a laugh for them is an engagement metric for you. The good news is that humor is incredibly expansive in its scope, so this is a golden opportunity to try to imitate what you find funny.
When crafting your next piece of content, consider adding the following:
- A short, humorous anecdote that relates a personal experience to the content you’re introducing.
- A weird fact that instigates a laugh and piques interest.
- Clever wordplay that leaves your readers quietly chuckling as they consume the information presented.
- Comedic verbiage throughout the piece to hold the reader’s attention.
Among associations, Q&A has become a popular format for content, and rightfully so. They are quick hit pieces that focus on one perspective. Q&A articles are a great place to start when it comes to integrating humor. In a way, they follow the same engagement logic as a first date conversation. (No, this isn’t weird. Just go with it.)
Imagine you’re out to dinner. Now imagine you skip the small talk and immediately begin the conversation with, “Who did you vote for in the last election?” Sure, it might be topical information, but by opening with something so heavy handed, you can pretty much guarantee the other person will leave before the date is finished.
Seeing as an association’s goal is to keep readers interested enough to read all of their content (i.e. finish the date), the same rules apply as far as easing into an article’s core.
Consider the following example:
Q: I just found out that popsicles were created by accident and that it used to be called the ‘Epsicle’, named after the 11-year-old who discovered them.
A: Ha! What were you searching for that led you to find that fact?
Q: I can’t remember, but it probably wasn’t the five-day forecast.
A: Well, it’s interesting regardless of how you found it.
Q: Definitely. Speaking of things that are interesting, would you mind telling me a little bit about your association’s annual event coming up?
A: Sure! Our members are very excited about the potential networking opportunities…
Lighthearted humor often proves to be a great hook into the rest of an interview conversation. Most readers want a peek into how two people relate to one another before the article becomes an info dump.
All that said, your readers don’t need to know why the chicken crossed the road, and they don’t need to believe you’re the next great comedic genius. But finding a way to creatively integrate levity into your content might just convince more people to engage from beginning to end.
Lauren Liacouras is a content coordinator for SmithBucklin.
SmithBucklin Content helps you position your organization as an authoritative source of timely, relevant, comprehensive and engaging industry intelligence. Contact us to learn about partnering with SmithBucklin Content to create a customized content strategy for your organization.