Have you ever had your TV on for background noise and realized you were listening to a daytime soap opera or a Spanish-language telenovela? Have you ever noticed they’re often so deadly damned serious they inadvertently cross the line into hilarity?
Would it surprise you to know the same thing can happen with your website?
Because it can!
Look, I get it. You worked hard to get where you are. You want your company’s image to reflect the fact you take your work seriously and mean business. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, demonstrating your business has a sense of humor can boost your business in surprising ways. Study after study after survey demonstrates businesses which display an appropriate sense of humor for their niche gain more followers and clients, and also perform better in face to face interactions.
The key is, “for their niche!”
This means acceptable business humor for an attorney or a cosmetic surgeon might be different than the kinds a doula, an adult toy business or a plumber may employ. Because you work in that field, you know far better than a generalist like me what sort of humor is okay and what sort is taboo. That said, there are some general reasons having and demonstrating a sense of humor can work for your business instead of against it.
When I write for a client, I try to inject appropriate humor for their industry into the copy when and where possible. My object is to help your website and its content rank on Google and other search engines. In this respect, I’m working to satisfy a machine and a patchwork of algorithms. But I’m also, and far more importantly, writing for human eyes. Striking a balance between the often conflicting requirements of the machine versus the human is the art form at the heart of my craft. And, to be perfectly honest, it makes my job a little more fun too.
With this in mind, here are ten reasons why your website needs a sense of humor!
- If you want people to listen to you, make them laugh.
There is a time and a place to be perfectly earnest and serious. However, on first introduction probably isn’t it. If you can make someone smile or laugh, you can also make that person THINK about what you’re saying. This makes the person more receptive to what you have to say and offer. They will like you more, and the goodwill fostered by that feeling could make the difference between establishing a positive, mutually productive working relationship and finding they’ve taken their business elsewhere.
2. Humor showcases your humanity.
“Sorry I’m late, everyone. I just got a new espresso machine for the office and I couldn’t figure out how it worked!” (Said with a shrug and a self-deprecating chuckle)
In today’s caffeinated society, most people will be at least a little sympathetic to the need for an eye-opener to start the day. Plus, the challenges of adapting to any new technology, be it a fancy coffee maker or the latest and greatest whizbang smartphone, are universally relatable. Using humor on your website demonstrates you’re human too, dealing with all the challenges your clientele is. You don’t necessarily need a lot of humor, and you don’t need to be constantly cracking wise. But you do need to point up the fact your company is run by humans, with humans and for humans. If your profession is particularly prone to puns, such as the names of certain notorious law firms, you might make a couple upfront. This gives you the dual benefit of getting a possible laugh and heading off your prospective customer’s chances to make the joke at your expense, since you got there first!
3. The right humor shows you know your audience.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“To show the armadillo it was possible.”
Tell this joke in Austin, Massachusetts and you’ll probably get a level stare and, “Okay…?” Tell it in Austin, Texas and people will likely be rolling on the floor because armadillos, in addition to being the Texas state animal, are also a common sight along the side of the road after being struck by vehicles. It’s funny to Texans because it’s so frequently proven to be true, but someone from Massachusetts probably won’t get it.
The same basic principle applies to any other form of business. From attorneys to adult bookstores, every industry has its own unique jargon and humor. If you can find the customer’s pain point and make a joke out of it, it subconsciously signals the reader that “THIS person gets it and knows what to do about it!” In turn, this fuels your perceived likeability and your business’s profitability.
4. A sense of humor equals resilience.
Things fall apart, don’t work as planned or just flat-out go straight to Hell in a handbasket. It happens to us all. Someone who experiences a minor setback and freaks out, goes on a full-throated rant about why God has forsaken them and generally loses their cool is unpleasant to work with, soul-crushing to work for and has little to no chance of retaining customers in the long term. On the flipside, a person who can look at a less than ideal situation and apply humor to it can dispel tension and redirect everyone’s focus toward potential solutions to the problem rather than the problem itself.
5. Humor often equates to creativity.
Have you ever had someone make a wisecrack about a situation and realize that person inadvertently gave you the solution? Studies show a sense of humor often correlates to a high degree of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. This means your office smartass, the one who can’t seem to take anything seriously, might actually be the problem solver a given issue requires. Because they look at things differently, they can often conceptualize solutions which may evade or thwart a more linear thinker.
6. People with a sense of humor are easier to be around.
Whether it’s the boss, coworkers or clients, people tend to naturally gravitate toward others who demonstrate a sense of humor. As bosses, they often take a lighter approach toward management. As coworkers, they tend to be more collaborative. As clients,they tend to be more easygoing and patience. In short, people who can laugh and make others laugh are just generally more pleasant and relaxing company.
7. Your results will look better.
Say you have two people working on a project. One person is a serious, earnest, nose to the grindstone, Type A personality. The other is always making little jokes and having fun with the project. They get equal results–but chances are high you’ll view the joker’s results more positively than the serious one’s, even though they’re identical! The reason is simple: As a species, we view the people we see as likeable, and their results, more favorably than the ones we don’t, even if the results they achieve are indiscernible from one another.
8. It makes you appear more competent and confident.
People who are afraid to make a mistake or lack faith in their abilities tend to approach jobs with a grim, narrow focus. They don’t look at the big picture and they’re so terrified of screwing up that they wind up with “paralysis through analysis.” Because they don’t feel confident, they often appear incompetent and like they don’t know what they’re doing, panicking at the first sign of trouble. Someone who’s relaxed and demonstrating humor appears to have more control over the situation. “Yeah, this isn’t great, but we’re going to get through it as soon as I duct-tape this cut on my arm!” inspires trust–and usually rewards that trust with measurable results.
9. It makes you feel better.
Laughter is literally medicine. Endorphins are the natural feel-good chemicals your body releases in response to stimuli like a good workout, eating your favorite food, cuddling with your partner or sex. You can also get this same “high” by laughing. They are just as addictive as heroin, which is why people seek out their favorite forms of endorphin release frequently. Amazingly, endorphins increase endurance, stamina and feelings of well-being. They make you happier and able to sustain effort for longer. Delivering a safe boost of endorphins to readers, viewers and your colleagues makes them happier and more willing to work with you, and a well-crafted, perfectly timed joke makes YOU feel better and enjoy your work more too!
10. Humor fosters closeness and connection.
No one likes being on the outside looking in. The human animal is wired to be very social. We need touch, intimacy and connection. Being part of the “in-group” satisfies that innate craving for the feeling of being part of something bigger than oneself. Humor is a kind of conspiracy which invites the participants into your circle. It says, “We’re in this together and we’re going to get this done the way you expect, but we’re also going to have some fun with it.”
There are, of course, times and situations where humor is grossly inappropriate. You likely wouldn’t expect to find a joke on a website for a funeral home, for example, although the occasional pun or dark humor isn’t totally off the table.
You’d probably be disgusted if the attorney you’re considering for your personal injury case goes on a “hilarious” rant about something harebrained a former client did. Chances are you wouldn’t want to go to an adult store whose homepage is nothing but sexist jokes. Self-deprecating humor should be treated like salt: a little goes a long, LONG way. And of course, “-ist” jokes in general are best not made or even alluded to.
But done well, adding the RIGHT humor to your website can generate more pageviews, stimulate word of mouth advertising and make your phones ring more.
Which is what you want, isn’t it?
Stay tuned for more content creation tips, tricks and tactics, and let me know what YOU think about humor on your website in the comments below!