• Megan Oliver

How to use Humor to Drive Engagement in Social Media Marketing

Could humor be the key to your success on social media? This is a question I asked myself often during the second year of my Master’s program, as I was tasked with finding a thesis topic that I could not only spend a decent time diving into, but that would actually entertain me for a full year of writing.


While searching for a topic very productively (read: scrolling through Twitter), I stumbled upon one of the most interesting accounts on the platform… Wendy’s.


The fast food chain Wendy’s took the Twitter world by storm in 2017 with a risky, yet calculated, tweet that brought the sass and heat to one of their Twitter followers. Their simple and devastatingly hilarious response led to a brand-new persona (@wendys) that began an avalanche of retweet-worthy hysterical responses to any and all “internet trolls” who tweeted their way. This new strategy earned the brand one of the most retweeted tweets of all time.



While Wendy’s seemed to constantly be popping up on my timeline with great “clapbacks”, after a further search into their replies, these viral tweets only make up a small portion of their overall messaging. So why does this small number appear to outperform all of their other content?



This brought me to the key questions of my research: Do humorous tweets actually get a higher response than non-humorous? What “type” of humor is most likely to go viral? Could there really be a “formula” for those viral tweets? After coding hundreds of tweets and putting hard statistics behind these questions, I was able to come to some conclusions.


The biggest takeaway by far was the strong connection between humor and customer engagement. Of the most highly engaged tweets on their platform, humor made up 67% of the responses. In the case of Wendy’s, satire was the most used humor type – leading to their now well-known sassy tone.


With these findings in hand, here are three ways you can incorporate humor into your social media marketing.


1. Make it your own

Wendy’s may be the queen of sass, but it doesn’t mean that this will work with just any brand. Other companies could incorporate a different type of humor than Wendy’s that better fits with their brand, and still receive high engagement.


2. Humor should be used sparingly

Not every response needs to be humorous, nor should it be. Wendy’s humor strategy excelled when they capitalized on the overwhelming amount of “internet trolls” tweeting at them.


However, an actual customer complaint should and is handled MUCH differently by the brand. Especially in a time such as our current crisis, it is good to consistently reassess your strategy to see if what you are doing is working and is inoffensive.


3. Incorporate humor into your overall strategy

Humor is a great tool to engage with customers, but it shouldn’t solely replace a sound social media marketing strategy. Keeping humor as a small portion of your overall content strategy will allow that content to really shine, and will likely drive higher engagement on those posts.


Interested in seeing if a humorous messaging style would work for your social media? Contact us for a free initial consultation to learn more about you and your brand!


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