According to statistics from ‘the internet’, some three million blog posts are published every single day. That is freaking loads. With such a huge volume of competition, how are you going to make your content stand out from the crowd? Well, one tried and tested method is by using the content marketer’s secret weapon: humour.

Make ’em laugh…

Humour has been helping advertisers sell stuff, and average-looking men woo beautiful women (it’s true – just ask my wife), since time immemorial. Ever since Paleolithic man first slipped up on a banana skin, humans have loved to laugh. Although, come to think of it, owing to the lack of medical knowledge at the time, that poor caveman would probably have died a slow, agonizing death from a fractured skull.

Not so funny now, is it? In fact, it’s even less funny when you consider that, before thousands of years of selective breeding turned them into the bright yellow, slightly suggestive fruit snacks we know and love today, prehistoric bananas actually looked more like this.

But I digress. Essentially, people enjoy being made to laugh. It gives them a warm, fuzzy feeling deep down inside, and if you can get people to associate that warm, fuzzy feeling with your brand, then so much the better. It’s a tactic that really does pay off. For instance, some of the biggest TV advertising campaigns of recent years have been based around humour: Compare the Market with their adorable, Russian-accented meerkats (although the extent to which this is actually funny is up for debate); Go Compare with the singing opera man (again, debatable); O2 with their cat life coach…well, okay, many people find these ads infuriating, rather than funny, but you get the idea.

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Slippery slope: It can be a dangerous balancing act, but humour in content marketing can work

The same also holds true for online content. What’s the one thing that Grumpy Cat, Gangnam Style, and otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch all have in common? You guessed it: they’re funny. Humour is part and parcel of their enduring, universal appeal. And that’s the other great thing about humour: it transcends cultural boundaries, delighting people across the globe in a way that more dour subject matter just doesn’t. While more straight-laced content can and does generate serious customer engagement, people are far more apt to like and share something that’s tickled them than a page of boring old stats.

…But not too much

BUT – and it is a big but – humour most definitely has a time and a place. Be careful not to let humour get in the way of your point. You can sometimes spend so much effort trying to shoehorn a hilarious gag into your content that you end up losing the thread of what you were trying to say in the first place.

There are also some businesses – e.g. funeral directors ­– for whom humorous content is dead wrong. And, as much as it pains me to say it, the overuse of humour can be annoying (it’s true – just ask my ex-wife). There is a fine line between being funny and being zany. And trust me: nobody wants zany. Or, god forbid, wacky.

Comedy: Almost better than drugs

On the whole, though, funny content works because it sticks in people’s minds and makes them feel good – and not just in a wooly, abstract sense: laughter stimulates the brain’s reward centre and makes it release lovely chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, in much the same way as heroin, crack and amphetamines. And until the day comes when we can make content as physically addictive as crystal meth – and rest assured, we are working on it – you can employ humour to much the same effect.

For an object lesson in hilarity, check out our own frequently updated and occasionally humorous newsletter.