4 Steps to Stronger Relationships by Sharing a Laugh

Humor is tough to integrate effectively into marketing, especially nonprofit marketing. We see a lot more of it in consumer marketing, where the issue covered isn’t so serious or meaningful.

Frankly, it seems to be that we in the nonprofit sector can just take ourselves a bit too seriously sometimes, and that can be a barrier to connecting with our networks. And it’s hard to get the ok for using humor…we’re scared.

No kidding.

But the folks in your network are humans, too, and enjoy a good laugh just like you do. And, as when you share a laugh with a new-ish colleague or friend, that grin or guffaw can draw the two of you closer together, enriching your relationship. Humor brings people together.

Here are 4 steps to using humor to connect more strongly with your network:

1) Know what your organization and your network have in common and play on that in your humor. That’s the point of connection for all messaging, but especially for humor.

Take the example at top..which was what I saw when I went to my LinkedIn page on April Fools Day. It works because the LinkedIn folks know what we have in common: We both know who Albert Einstein and Robin Hood were (being that LinkedIn is mainly a professional networking social media tool, and the assumption is that participants have completed high school or above in most cases). We shared the joke!

Without knowing your common ground, you’re treading on dangerous ground and may offend.

2) Keep your humor brief and use only periodically. Humor is a “less is more” tactic.

3) Delivery is everything. When you integrate humor into a video, e-news, annual report (I’m still waiting to see that) or conversation, it’s crucial that you fine-tune delivery…from where it falls in the flow of messages, your tone, the pause before or after…

4) Wrap it up while they’re still laughing. Don’t push it. Instead, pause, return to your more typical tone (although serious doesn’t mean deadly!) and cycle in humor from time to time when opportunity surfaces.

Please share your take on:

  • What are key humor do’s and don’ts?
  • How is your organization using humor — effectively or ineffectively — to strengthen your relationships?
  • What models, or huge fails, have you seen from other organizations?

More: How to Use Humor in Fundraising Campaigns

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Nancy Schwartz on April 14, 2011 in Tactics | 3 comments
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  • Brooke

    I believe – through proof of sharing and comments – that humor is a great thing to incorporate regularly online. Most the time it’s pretty benign casual banter, and it’s never risky.

    I posted a tweet recently to a new blog post that my supervisor didn’t care for. Most of my post links (this is a tax blog so already a little dull!) are straight forward and let’s face it – blah. Unless you already have a high interest in tax extensions, why would you give my tweets a second thought? I wanted to beef up the personality because I thought lately I haven’t been giving it all that much. So I tried this, and got retweets and shares on paper.li – http://twitter.com/#!/NeighborhoodCtr/status/56004236818907136

    I’d like to know what your opinion is? It’s been bothering me for weeks because I can’t understand why this is inappropriate, and if I can’t do that, where is the line? I’m afraid to use humor at all!

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Thanks for asking, Brooke. Your tweet is humorous is a completely harmless and engaging way to me. But that doesn’t really matter.

    I wish I could tell you why the tweet works or doesn’t for your organization but that answer lies with your leadership and colleagues. My recommendation is that you ask your supervisor what about the tweet makes her feel uncomfortable about your organization (after all this is your professional personality you’re sharing here) – the response will be your clue about what’s next – to interject (a certain kind of humor) or to steer clear.

    Eager to hear what happens.

  • Fabulous post, Nancy. When used appropriately and genuinely, humor makes you “real.” For us, social media has provided us with an opportunity to integrate humor more spontaneously into our communications. I think it’s made us more approachable as a Foundation.

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