Everyone who uses Twitter, which is presumably 90% of the people reading this, no doubt follows at least one or two comedians or spoof accounts that are there purely for entertainment value. 

And it’s this comic element that Twitter’s UK director Bruce Daisley believes brands need to tap into to develop more meaningful conversations with their customers.

At Bite’s Empty13 event, Daisley light-heartedly suggested that the UK is unique in that its citizens love to find humour in the darker side of life – so while we all enjoyed the highs of 2012 such as the Jubilee and the Olympics, we also love to revel in the troughs that lie in between. 

He gave the example of two of the most retweeted posts of recent memory. The one that captured the American public’s imagination most was Barack Obama’s touching image celebrating his re-election.

Whereas in the UK we loved David Whitehouse’s sarcastic comment about cycling cheat Lance Armstrong. It has subsequently been retweeted more than 10,000 times.

But for most brands, it probably wouldn’t pay off if they were constantly trying to entertain – though there are some notable exceptions in the form of Arena Flowers and Betfair Poker.

Instead, Daisley suggests that the approach should be to blend one part humour with three parts seriousness.

The challenge for any brand is thinking about how they can establish a friendly relationship with people. They need to provide value and substance but with a human tone.

This is a tightrope skilfully walked by the likes of ASOS and Tesco, which we recently analysed in a look at how the top five UK retailers use Twitter.

O2 also hits the right balance, deftly dealing with customer queries and complaints with a mixture of politeness and humour.

Specsavers is another great example of a brand that has used humour in its marketing, as well as taking advantage of Twitter to react in real time to the day’s events.

Back in January Chelsea footballer Eden Hazard was banned after kicking a ballboy at the side of the pitch.

Specsavers immediately responded with this advert, which has gained more than 3,000 retweets and is still pinned to the top of its Twitter feed.

Daisley’s final example was a funny riposte from the Lib Dem press office in response to an attempted jibe from the Labour press team.

It shows that impact that humour can have in bringing a more rounded, human image to an otherwise dry Twitter feed.

David Moth

Published 14 February, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)



This is a terrific post but since humor is so subjective - and what one person finds to be funny another might not - is this really the best way for brands to connect? Hmmmm ... Definitely food for thought ~ and again a really great post!

over 5 years ago



Nice piece.

Not 100% sure I meant that brands *have* to be funny but that an authentic tone of voice is vital. Sometimes a good tone of voice is humour.

over 5 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

@Bruce, thanks for your comment.

Your talk was really interesting and gave some decent food for thought - I think that for a majority of consumer brands an element of humour is vital for adding a human touch to their social media efforts. Otherwise they're in danger of just churning out dull, corporate messages.

over 5 years ago

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