How to Use Humor to Power up Your Content Marketing


When I write content, I’m usually not that funny. My written jokes don’t go over too well, so I stick with solid, meaty stuff that helps my readers solve problems and achieve marketing goals.

But I know humor is important.

Some of you reading this article are funny people. You have a knack for creating content that makes people laugh.

I’m here to tell you that’s awesome. Humor is a powerful tool.

Have you noticed that more and more brands are incorporating humor into their marketing these days?

Old Spice, Geico, and Dollar Shave Club are just a few companies that come to mind.

Well, there’s a good reason for this trend. Humor sells. That’s why I applaud you if you’re able to insert humor into your content.

In many cases, making your audience laugh is the key to winning them over, boosting your brand equity, and creating the perception of authenticity.

There’s even hard data showing the appeal humor can have.

Nielsen conducted extensive research on which marketing themes resonate the most with a global audience.

Here’s a breakdown of how advertising appeal differs around the world.


As you can see, the European and North American audiences respond most favorably to humor at 51% and 50% respectively.

So, at least theoretically, throwing humor into your campaign should help you win over half of your audience.

If you do it right, you can use humor to propel your marketing and branding to epic heights.

Why is humor so effective?

The way I see it, there are three main reasons why humor works.

First, it forces people to lower their defenses.

Let’s face it. Many people are skeptical when it comes to advertisements.

And it’s easy to see why.

Because we’re so used to a constant barrage of ads, we tend to close ourselves off from hearing their messages.

Humor works well because it catches people off guard.

It’s like hitting them with a right hook. All of a sudden, they find themselves laughing, amused with the hilarity of a situation.

In turn, this often reduces their skepticism, and there’s a bit more openness to hearing your marketing message.

Download this cheat sheet to learn how to use humor to power up your content marketing.

Second, you can use humor to connect with your audience.

Numerous studies have shown that humor acts as an inherent social bonding mechanism.

In an experiment, Dr. Robin Dunbar found that:

…laughter not only plays an important role in social and non-verbal communication, but it also provides evolutionary qualities that encourage group bonding and protects us from physical and psychological pain. 

In other words, humor brings us closer together and can make your brand more relatable to your audience.

Third, humor often leads to sharing.

Think about it. What’s some of the most shared content on social media?

It’s stuff like crazy cat videos and ridiculous memes.

Take Grumpy Cat, Condescending Wonka, and First World Problems, for example.


If a person comes across something that elicits a legitimate laugh, there’s a high probability they’ll share it with others.

If you play your cards right, a humor-infused content marketing campaign can go viral.

Leveling the playing field

In my opinion, humor is also a great equalizer and has the potential to bridge the gap between small companies and their much larger counterparts.

Just take Dollar Shave Club, for example.

This is a fairly small company specializing in razor blades and shaving accessories.

It’s a drop in a very large bucket of the shaving industry, and it’s up against mega competitors such as Gillette, Remington, and Bic.

But somehow they’ve been able to carve out a nice niche for themselves and, as of mid-2015, had a net worth of $615 million. Not too shabby.

I would say that a large reason behind the success of Dollar Shave Club is their humor.

Although they didn’t have the massive budget of their huge corporate competitors, they understood how to capture the attention of their audience with humor.

One of their most notable slogans is “Our blades are f**king great.”

Do some people find it offensive? Probably.


But guess what? The company crushed it.

As of October, 2016, this ad was viewed over 23.5 million times on YouTube.

This just goes to show that even obscure brands who are up against seemingly insurmountable odds can claim their piece of the pie (and more) by weaving humor into their content marketing.

Now that we’ve established why humor works, let’s talk about how you can use it to amp up your campaign.

It all starts with YOUR demographic

Humor is subjective. What may be funny to a high-schooler may be offensive to someone in their 60s.

For this reason, it’s critical you fully understand your audience and come up with an approach they’ll find legitimately funny.

You need an angle that makes sense and that will hit its mark.

What you don’t want is for your message to come across as being overly offensive, crass, or distasteful.

This obviously won’t do your brand reputation any favors.

The key is to come up with an angle that your specific audience is likely to respond to.

You don’t need to worry about pleasing everyone, but it’s absolutely essential to create (or curate) the right humorous content that’s going to stick.

Humor needs to align with your brand identity

Authenticity is another key ingredient in the success of humor marketing. It needs to reflect what your brand is all about.

Let’s look once again at Dollar Shave Club.

You could consider their brand of humor as edgy, blunt, and non-conservative.

They don’t fit the traditional mold of razor blade suppliers, and they’re totally fine with that.

In fact, they fully embrace their brazen and brassy behavior.

That’s why their humor-centric ads hit just the right note. The ads align perfectly with their brand identity, and people have responded positively.

To recap, you first need to know exactly whom you’re trying to reach and then align your content around your brand.

If you can do these two things, your chances of success will increase exponentially.

Keep it simple

The more complex and complicated your humor is, the more likely it is to miss the mark.

If it needs to be explained, it immediately loses its effectiveness.

In other words, people shouldn’t have to think too much about it. Why it’s funny should be obvious.

Keeping it simple and to the point is your best option if you want your message to resonate.

What kind of humor works?

Perhaps the most straightforward way to evoke laughter is to simply make a joke or snide comment about something.

Take this cynical blog post from The Onion, for example.


Most people immediately get the fact this is mocking the 2016 presidential candidates. It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out, and it’s quite humorous.

In fact, The Onion is an expert at being satirical—humor is woven into its very fabric.

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to be funny in a classy, sophisticated kind of way, this is a good resource to check out.

Another option is to utilize a casual, tongue-in-cheek style.

Maybe you use ludicrous images or snarky pop culture references to grab the attention of your audience and form a bond.

Here’s another example from Wait But Why that pokes fun at the presidential race.


Notice how the simplicity of their content and their ridiculous hand-drawn image instantly resonates with readers.

Going this route typically requires a little more brainstorming than simply making a joke or comment but can have a really big impact when you do it just right.

A third possibility is to shock your audience into laughter.

This is where you create content that catches people off guard by being over the top.

It’s a technique that doesn’t necessarily require a lot of thought or effort. It’s more about taking things to extreme and being so ridiculous that people can’t help but take notice.

A good example of a company who does this well is Skittles with their “taste the rainbow” commercials.

Most of their ads are pretty far out there, e.g., a teenager confessing that he has “Skittlespox.”


A final note

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a standup comedian to inject humor into your content marketing. You don’t have to leave your audience rolling on the floor laughing.

All you usually have to do is get them to smile and “get it.” That’s enough.

The key is to keep it simple while being authentic and relatable.

If you can win them over with humor, this should allow you to make a genuine connection and leave them more open to exploring your product or service.


Humor is no joke when it comes to content marketing.

It can be very potent and potentially help you win the hearts of your audience.

There’s even firsthand proof that humor can catapult a small, no name company into the upper echelon of its industry, allowing it to compete with big name titans in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

But in order to capitalize on this tactic, you need to do your homework and come up with a game plan that allows you to hit the sweet spot.

By taking the right approach, you can achieve some highly important goals, including building valuable rapport, boosting your brand reputation, and generating a high volume of leads.

Can you think of any other companies who have nailed it by being funny?

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  1. HI Neil,
    How are you?
    I’ve been publishing great articles to my blog for last many months – still not getting backlinks 🙁
    Can you suggest me what to do next?
    I am so sad now 🙁

  2. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found that humor generally doesn’t work in blog posts. I’ve read a lot of posts over the years where the writer tried to use humor. I say “tried” because I generally find myself rolling my eyes at their bad puns and being annoyed by their seemingly pointless gifs that just make them look unprofessional.

    • I appreciate your feedback Matt. I’ll try and be more topical 🙂

    • Stephanie Houng :

      The reason why the humor didn’t work in the blog posts you read is the same reason why you found yourself rolling your eyes. Their sense of humor was either poorly executed or was not a good fit for their audience, in which case, you. Humor is very powerful tool, but misguided shots happen. This is why Neil’s post stresses the importance of knowing your audience and employing the right kind of humor. When humor works successfully, you don’t even notice it’s there.

  3. Nora McDougall-Collins :

    If you feel you aren’t funny, you might try adding a person with Aspergers to your life. The fact that my Mom had Aspergers has been an invaluable resource. She just didn’t see things like people who are “neural typical” and made the strangest connections that are quite funny to many people.

    That trait rubbed off. It allowed me to see that titles like “How Programming is Like Class B Football” are catchy. Or writing a post with a photo of apricots, a cutting board and paring knife, and a jar of apricot jam to illustrate Input, Environment and Output.

    Just see the bizarre in everyday things! Hang around someone with Aspergers for a while – or a long time!

  4. Clipping Solution :

    Thanks for sharing the post. Valuable and excellent post, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts. keep it up.

  5. Is only Humor is important in doing marketing? & Thanks Neil give the very very informative knowledge give to us. Please share this type of article Neil which is very helpful in marketing our business

    • Humor isn’t the only important thing, it just adds something that a lot of blogs are missing. We can all mostly agree that a humorous blog gets our attention right?

  6. Good to learn this. Incorporating humor into marketing would be cool just as you’ve highlighted it here. I learnt the act of using emotion to marketing product in one of your post, I tested it and its worked fine. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Excellent post, I guess I need to find my sense of humor somewhere now!

  8. Great post! We try to have a good balance with most of our videos to make sure that they are informative for our customers but also entertaining & conversational. It can be a challenge, especially with the industry that we serve which is facilities management. However, I love Alec’s suggestion of starting with a truth & stretching it to the absurd because the facilities management industry definitely has a lot of truths that we could capitalize on. I think our strategy is working because we recently got feedback from a customer who avidly follows our blog & videos who said that he loves our videos & feels like he knows us after watching them. 🙂

  9. Hello Neil,

    You have mentioned some of the game-changing points in order to write an engaging content.

    Humour is the quickest way to make an impression.

    1. Humor attracts attention.
    2. Humor can increase retention of the advertising message.
    3. Credibility of the source can be enhanced with humor.
    4. Attitude toward the ad can be enhanced with the use of humor.
    5. Counter arguments may be minimized with the use of humor because it acts to distract the audience from making cognitive responses

    Most content items that go viral on the social web are humorous, the ones that have got audiences to share a laugh with their network connections.

    Thanks for sharing

  10. Rudra Ramya Sree :

    Hi Patel,

    thanks for sharing information about importance of humor in writing blog post. i am agree with but blog is third party communication visitor only look into message typed on post.making post with real humor,incident will help readers to make joy.

    • Glad it was helpful for you Rudra 🙂

      • Adding memes or funny videos within your blog posts create humour, seriously.

        I personally love to read those posts which talk to me. Which add value as well as some humour.

        That’s the reason why I usually watch videos of Derek Halpern. He knows how to add humour with his content, videos or podcasts.

        By reading comics, watching funny videos, you get a ton of ideas on how to add humour within your content (Be it videos or articles). So don’t publish your posts without adding it.

        After all, that’s what most of us craving for. Create infotainment content.

  11. Excellent One! I never thought in this way. Incorporation of humor into marketing is really awesome

  12. The hardest way! It is so easy to cross the line! Your audience have to resonate with you and your humor.

  13. Jerome Perrin :

    For me, wit is also essential.

    Humor and wit make a better world, I think.

    Well, this comment is supposed to be witty 🙂

  14. The addition of Humor in Content Marketing is awesome. Have never thought of it.
    great article on content marketing with humor. Thanks Neil for giving the idea.

  15. I completely agree with this post. As one of the recent post published by neil on viral content also showed that using by positive emotions in your content can increase the users engagement rates.

    • The more you can understand the feelings your audience has as they arrive on the site, the better your content will get.

  16. 100% sure that a genuine article with nice words will increase the traffic on your blog
    Thanks !!

  17. Merry Williams :

    I like the way you written it and look forward for your next…..

  18. Very nice post here thanks for it I always like and search such topics and everything connected to them.

  19. Awesome post! A very good step-by-step guide especially for a beginner like me. It’s overwhelming with information, thank you for making it easy and very detailed..

    I’ll pop some questions here, if I need help, hope that’s okay.

  20. Agreed Neil, very informative one.
    Basically, Content marketing is a strategic marketing tactic focused on creating and spreading valuable, relevant, and consistent content to fascinate and retain a clearly-defined audience and ultimately to grasp profitable customer action and responses.

  21. Obat Sipilis Dan Obat Kencing Nanah Herbal :

    hi neil I think insert content humor in the article it was very difficult neil i marketing herbal medicines if there is content humor in it I tkut that this reader is a content which is not serious but maksih on the advice you above I will try in some nlog my other with different blog themes good article buddy

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