News article

Why humour can be the pun-sung hero of your content

Apparently, Friday the 1st of July was International Joke Day.

Nobody told me until it was too late, so apologies to all of you who celebrated this glorious day with your very best dad jokes. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that, much like me, you had no idea it was my new-found favourite day of the year.

So, when it rolls around next year, make sure you have some killer jokes at hand, and spread laughter throughout the office, your household, or wherever else you find yourself.

When it comes to grabbing a reader’s attention, there are lots of ways to do it. You’ve previously read about:

The use of a simple pun or joke is another technique you can use (albeit sparingly) to arouse curiosity in your content.

Apart from the joy that laughter brings, jokes and puns can grab your attention or stay on your mind. Surely, I’m not the only one who’s been on the train, walking through town, or doing some other mundane task, and then saw something that triggered the memory of a hilarious joke, and struggled to hold back my laughter?

News outlets often use humour to get your attention. For example, these are all headlines from various news outlets:

The title alone for all of these is enough to make you interested and want to read more…or at least see how huge the mum’s eyebrows really are.

A good joke, pun, or play on words can be useful when trying to grab the attention of a potential client.

Rebranding as The Metrestick Agency

For example, as an April fool’s prank this year, we revealed that Yardstick Agency would have to rebrand to Metrestick Agency due to an EU ruling. This article proved so popular that it was our most viewed article throughout all of April.

While we strive to provide useful and interesting content, we couldn’t imagine that this “joke post” would outperform the rest of the content we put out in April and early May, by almost double.

So, why did it do so well?

While we can’t be 100% sure of the reasons that every individual read the article, we can safely say that the humour formed a big part in the engagement. Much like the headlines from the other news outlets, the title of the article drew readers in, and the content kept on giving.

With over a quarter of traffic coming from social media, the first line of our social media posts that day was “BREAKING NEWS: The Yardstick Agency is rebranding to The Metrestick Agency.”

It surely caused a few giggles and some intrigue into why this rebrand was necessary. And, much like the views on the blog, the posts across Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook that linked to this article are in our top 10 “most engaged with” posts of all time.

Make sure your jokes are relevant

Having a joke or pun in your headline can make someone read your article, but you need to ensure the jokes are relevant, and not likely to cause offence.

While making a joke about rewinding a cassette with a pencil will go down well some demographics, a Gen Z audience will not be able to relate and either not find the joke funny, or they’ll be confused as to why you’re “Putting the HB in a cassette and looking back on the year”.

You also need to make sure that your pun isn’t going to damage the reputation of you or your firm.

In recent times, many comedians have faced strong criticism for the nature of their material. Indeed, just last month TV star Joe Lycett revealed he’d been reported to the police for a joke he made on stage in Belfast.

Performers including Dave Chappelle,  Jimmy Carr, Ricky Gervais, and even the family friendly Rowan Atkinson all have faced a major backlash for their jokes, or their views on comedy.

While most comedy is subjective, you need to know that your joke isn’t going to cause controversy. Stirring up debate with a blog about why “Glamping is just camping for people who hate camping” can be fine. You might also have strong views about an area of financial planning and use a joke headline to make your point.

But, be careful – both for the likely reaction now and in the future. Many of us grew up hearing jokes, and maybe even telling them too, that would no longer go down well in a public space. Jokes about blondes, mothers-in-law, and minorities belong in the 70s and 80s.

A good play on words or joke can help drive engagement

Using humour can help to get people interested in your content. And, sometimes, clever titles stay with people.

I’m sure there are titles to blogs or news articles that you read long ago that you still remember today for being funny or clever.

Those football fans among you will almost certainly remember this magnificent play on words:

…while if you’re a bit older you’ll remember the former Liberal Democrat leader’s affair represented as:

A simple joke, pun, or play on words can do wonders in getting people to read your article. Whether it’s talking about changing your name from Yardstick to Metrestick, or something ridiculous such as “Man grows pineapple in Huddersfield” people will be curious and want to know more.

Of course, a joke won’t work every time. Delivering benefits in headlines and all the other techniques you read in the links above are proven to work.

Sometimes, however, a little humour can go a long way.

Two jokes to finish

If you don’t mind, in celebration of International Joke Day I’ll finish with a joke.

“Children are kind, but German children are kinder” (my fiancée’s favourite English/German joke).

And if you’re down for an absolute classic, “Everybody knows Dave” is still my favourite.

Get in touch

If you’d like to make your content more engaging, or you’d like to find out how we can provide you with great quality (and occasionally humorous) articles, please get in touch.

Email or call 0115 8965 300.

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