I once heard someone say “don’t try to be funny on Twitter, just be funny on Twitter”.
Easier said than done.
For someone who takes time to compose each tweet, who fathoms replies to @ mentions and quotes retweets as a day job, this very thought invades my social media prowess all the time.
How do you be funny on Twitter without trying to be?
Many successful tweeters do it and I will list some of my favourites below, but first, let’s go over the basics. You don’t need followers to be funny, you need a brain. Have a brain? Good. Next, you need timing. Well, this is where it sort of gets complicated. What is timing in social media when the average tweet lasts 15 minutes?
There are tools out there that will help you plan when to tweet your gem. For instance, did you know that Hootsuite has released a plugin for your browser that will automatically schedule tweets to go out at their optimal time?
Now you have to nail down your content. Some of the best attempts at humour can backfire faster than a Halloween sequel. Humour is the hardest thing to write. Period. Like any good writer, one must read. Reading the tweets of those you find funny is one of the best ways to generate your own clever content.
Then, figure out what the angle is. Sarcasm. (Tasteful) criticism. Ironic photos. Jokes. Puns. Wit. Misinterpretation. All are tools.
Here’s how to further utilize humour for your tweets:
- Who is your audience? Everyone finds something funny. The question is: what? My mom still kills herself laughing at old Robin Williams movies but doesn’t even bat an eyelash at South Park. Who are you talking to and what do they like? Do some social listening to find out.
- What is your message and could it be seen as funny? Are you selling hemorrhoid cream? I hope you are, and if you are, call me. But if not, you get the drift. Some things can afford to be laughed at. If your brand sells a product for incontinence control, you need to have a serious chat about what your limits are in social, if you haven’t already.
- Do you have team support? Managerial, colleague, assistant, are all willing to adopt this new angle? Comedians are often making fun of themselves, thus, taking the pressure and scrutiny off of their faults by drawing attention to those faults initially. In the new movie ‘Pitch Perfect’ a girl calls herself Fat Amy. Why? Because she beats the skinny girls to it. Can/ should your brand/ image/ organization beat your fans to it?
- Do you see life as a drama or a comedy? Some of the best tweeters who are funny see the humour in daily things that would bug a lot of folks. A bee crawling into one’s coffee, a missed greyhound bus, all can be misinterpreted to be funny. If you’re at a loss for ideas, look around you. It’s usually right in front of your eyes. (psst… check out the day’s trending hashtags for inspiration)
If you’re all set to start tweeting your witty puns, go for it! But don’t get discouraged if you aren’t retweeted or favourited instantly. It takes time to build your reputation and get people to notice you.
And, as promised, here are a few of my favourite twumourists (because anyone can but a ‘tw’ in front of a word and have it make sense, right?)
@sween Jason Sweeney [a tweet-genius who won a contest then grew huge… not literally]
@sarahcolonna Sarah Colonna [if you like Chelsea Handler…]
@wojrants Wojtek Arciszweski [‘solves’ trending hashtags with true wit]
@ghostercoaster Dr. Mantis Toboggan [anonymously awesome, Canada’s Wonderland-unrelated]
@stats_canada Stats Canada [100% highly addictive, 100% unofficial]
@GSElevator Goldman Sachs Elevator Gossip [NSFW, ironically]