Category Archives: Top Ways to Use Entertaining Content

This category includes top 15 reports on humorous and other entertaining techniques used in viral YouTube videos re-casted from TV commercials.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #6 Unruliness

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Are you hesitant to adopt humorous content into your social media strategies for fear it may ruin your professional image or fall flat on its face? 

With social media communities clamoring for entertaining and video-based content, humor can break the mold of otherwise dull videos. Just consider what AFLAC, Geico, Allstate, Statefarm and Nationwide did to serious insurance commercials. They all eventually took the comic route.

Adopting humor may not be as daunting as you think. There are less than a dozen basic techniques that work well even for low budget productions.

Follow these 4 tested techniques for applying unruliness to your YouTube videos, and you will be well on your way towards engaging your audience. In fact, our study of the top viral videos demonstrated that the use of unruliness is the eighth most effective technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.

unruliness4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Unruliness

By unruliness, we mean behaviors showing resistance to control. The fact that we laugh at unruly behaviors is best explained by the Relief Theory of Humor. This theory contends that laughter is a mechanism by which psychological tension is reduced.

So we tend to laugh when we release tension or nervous energy such as when we unleash our suppressed desires. Consequently, we love watching others act out uncontrollably or violate some social order. In effect, we are likely enjoying the observation of others acting out our own inhibitions.

Arguably, most viral videos featuring unruliness fall under the following four categories:

  1. Hysteria
  2. Impulsive Outbursts
  3. Displaced Irritation
  4. Exercising Improprieties

Social Viral YouTube Video

Hysteria

A popular technique for entertaining audiences with humor is to show people unleashing their anxiety through uncontrollable screaming and yelling. In the 1950’s, the popular sitcom, The Honeymooners, featured a bellowing, short-tempered Ralph Kramden who would easily spin out of control. Audiences laughed at his infamous “BANG, ZOOM! Straight to the Moon!” The Relief Theory would attribute these fits of laughter to our own desires to let out steam.

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The Bellowing Ralph Kramden in the “The Honeymooners”

Other examples of hysteria in viral YouTube videos include scenes of angry bosses losing their control or folks experiencing nervous breakdowns. Similarly, many of the popular sports-related commercials show scenes of fanatics going over the edge to support their teams.

Impulsive Outbursts

Another successful way to get laughter from unruliness is through scenes of impulsive outbursts. Some viral YouTube videos reached views in the millions as audiences witnessed forceful demonstrations, body explosions or outright belligerence. The tension relief can be explained as an innate desire we may all have to act out our aggression.

Displaced Irritation

A third technique used in unruliness involves our desire to express deep irritation. This is often accomplished by having us share the irritation and the subsequent desire to fiercely lash out at others’ facing annoying habits.

Consider the commercial where an annoying pig continually utters “Wee! Wee! Wee!” or the vexatious camel in Geico’s hump day commercial who repeatedly asks “Guess what day it is?” Our own laughter comes from the expression of irritation shown on the faces of those annoyed.

This can also be accomplished by showing scenes of those irritated by incessant talkers. In effect, we are sharing the desires of the irritated actors to berate or strike the annoying subjects.

Exercising Improprieties

Another common way to release suppressed desires is to display scenes of wishful naughtiness. Who doesn’t want to disobey society rules on stature, proper behavior or appropriate demeanor?

Consider how audiences laugh when Mr. T acts out on our behalf or the rebels displayed by Harley Davidson to attract the recalcitrant. Besides aggression and disobedience, these improprieties could include forbidden behaviors such as invasive peeking. 

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 2% involved some type of unruliness. This form of viral video engagement ranked number thirteen, three and seven in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using unruliness as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #5 Irony

Does the thought of inspiring your YouTube video communities with entertaining content make you nervous? What if your attempts at being funny don’t catch on?  

Follow these 4 tested techniques for applying irony to your YouTube videos, and you will be well on your way towards engaging your audience. In fact, our study of the top viral videos demonstrated that the use of irony is the fifth most effective humor technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.

irony4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Irony

Irony, much like that of any perceptual discord, is characterized by a contrast, between expectations and reality. Rooted in the Theory of Incongruity, irony makes us laugh by showing the opposite or undesired intentions of someone’s actions. Mentally, we are saying to ourselves: “…I did not see that coming…”

Irony can be realized in the form of visual anomalies (e.g., unusual pairing, wrong personas and temperaments, hypocritical behaviors) or conceptual incongruities (e.g., wild coincidences, misunderstandings or something scripted out of place). In each case, we detect a mismatch with what we expect to see.

In general, most viral videos featuring irony fall under the following four categories:

  1. Visual Irony
  2. Ironic Temperament
  3. Ironic Persona
  4. Situational Irony
Social Videos

Comic Devices Used in Humorous Irony

Visual Irony

Visual irony refers to the use of two or more images that don’t belong together. An unusual pairing of well known characters or scenes, for example, make us laugh at the imagined conflict.

These inevitable battles were played out well in the 1970s show “The Odd Couple.” The series featured a neurotic neat freak pitted against an untidy, cigar chomping gambler.  Audiences, in this case, laughed at the how the two mismatched friends could possibly share an apartment following their divorces.

Social Videos

Mismatched Oscar and Felix Featured in the “Odd Couple”

Other examples of visual irony include the casting of humans as animals or cyborgs as humans. In both cases, the irony is enjoyed as we witness the acting out of a creation mismatch. Similarly, an oxymoron like the living dead, friendly adversaries or a screaming mime create laughter as we envision the inherent conflict.

Ironic Temperament

Another successful way to get laughter from irony is through the display of temperament anomalies. A common way to display this anomaly is with the mellowing of cantankerous personalities like the volatile John McEnroe or Bobby Knight.  

This can also be accomplished through the juxtaposing of characters in contradicting or aberrant ways. The films below show examples of a mother and daughter fiercely arguing over each others kind attributes as well as a beautiful woman admiring a man’s unattractive habits.

Ironic Persona

Our third technique used in irony involves the miscasting of character roles or intentions. This is often accomplished through the display of mistaken identities, adult acting children or childish acting adults.

This mismatch of personas can also create laughter when we see the least likely character to play a certain role. In the films below, we see this enacted in the form of unlikely hero figures.

Situational Irony

Finally, we often laugh over situational irony in which actions have an effect that is contrary to what was expected. This often happens in the case of a coincidental backlash, where the odds of such an unexpected scene spoiler are infinitely low.

Other cases of situational irony include the undesired outcomes resulting from misunderstandings or the scripting of behaviors in a misplaced or rhetorical setting.  We sometimes see this displayed in commercials through unorthodox routines, such as when employees let loose in an office setting.

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross-Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 8% involved some type of irony. This form of viral video engagement ranked number ten, eight and five in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using irony as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #4 Surprise Twist

Marketers realize that content requires some form of entertainment to go viral. But are you reluctant to go this route for fear of losing your audience? In our countdown of the top 10 ways to make your content funny, we demonstrate several humorous techniques that help engage your audience.

In fact, if you follow these 4 tested techniques for applying “Surprise Twists” to your videos, you can be assured of boosting engagement with your content. The use of Surprise Twists comes in at number 4 on our list.

surprise twist4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Surprise Twists

Surprise twists cause us to laugh as we witness or experience a change in course. Stemming from the Theory of Incongruity, this concept entertains us through a distracting segue. Mentally, we are asking ourselves: “…Where did this come from?..”

This surprise twist can be realized in the form of visual anomalies (e.g., sudden appearances, changes or revelations) or conceptual incongruities (e.g., storyline twists or unexpected responses). In each case, we detect a mismatch with what we expect to occur next.

In general, most viral videos featuring surprise twists fall under the following four categories:

  1. Plot Trickery
  2. Conceptual Surprise
  3. Transformation
  4. Visual Surprise
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Comic Devices for Surprise Twist

Conceptual Surprise

Think of this as stopping in our tracks when a scene or statement suggests that something is off track. Research suggests that we laugh when our minds anticipate a certain outcome, only to be tricked at the end with a wrong or uneventful answer.

This concept is not new. Years ago, Wendy’s conducted a comical test taste of their hamburgers. In their famous 1989 commercial featuring a trucker (http://bit.ly/18IDRXB), the participant was asked to choose from a delicious looking hamburger A or a nasty looking hamburger B. The trucker unexpectedly picked hamburger B. This unexpected twist would be followed with comments like: “…I’m a trucker, I could be eating this baby in Shaky Town and still tasting it in Salt Lake…”

Plot Trickery

A very successful method of stealing your attention is for the producer to take you down a subliminal storyline that ends in an unexpected twist . i.e., Just when you are drifting off to a predictable plot, the story takes an interesting turn. In his suspense grabbing films, Alfred Hitchcock was notorious for plot trickery. Many of his endings were totally unsuspected.

alfred-hitchcock-psycho1

This concept worked well for Geico where serious storylines ended in a farce. Just when we were about to hear a senate interrogation verdict, the committee chair interrupts with good news: he just saved money by switching to Geico.   

This unanticipated change in events works well in stories of twisted fate as well as in fantasies where the dreamer wakes up to a lackluster reality.

Transformation

Our third technique used in Surprise Twists is visual in nature. We often laugh at age transformations, bodies switching to others and overall magic. Like the conceptual forms of surprise, transformations can catch us off guard.

Snickers does this very effectively in their transforming of cranky actors (e.g., Betty White, Roseanne Barr, Aretha Franklyn, Don Rickles and Joe Pesci) into younger folks ready to return to action after eating a Snickers bar. In these cases, the transformation itself serves as an unexpected twist that suggests we have been duped.

Visual Surprise

A related concept to transformation is visual surprise. In this case, we are introduced to the sudden arrival of a new character (e.g., alien creature) or an unexpected object. Advertisers like Dodge and Volvic use these techniques in their displays of wishful thinking. Others like Nationwide shock their audiences with a surprise ugly substitute as when the fantasized Fabio turns into a wrinkled old man.

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 2% involved some type of Surprise Twist. This form of viral video engagement ranked number four, fourteen and three in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using Surprise Twist as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #3 Perceptual Discords

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Download buttonAre you hesitant to provide entertaining content for fear of missing the mark or falling flat? In our countdown of the top 10 ways to make your content funny, we demonstrate a wide range of humorous techniques that have stood the test of time.

In fact, if you follow these 4 tested techniques for applying “perceptual discords” to your YouTube videos, you can be assured of boosting audience engagement with your content. The use of perceptual discords comes in at number 3 on our list.

perceptual discord4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Perceptual Discords

Perceptual discords cause us to laugh as we witness or experience something out of touch. Stemming from the Theory of Incongruity, this concept entertains us by contrasting what we see with what is routinely expected.  Mentally, we are asking ourselves: “…Did I see that correctly?..”

This perceptual discord can be realized in the form of visual anomalies (e.g., distortions or impersonations), aberrant behaviors (eccentricity) or conceptual incongruities (e.g., nonsense or unusual settings). In each case, we detect a mismatch with common perceptions.

In general, most viral videos featuring perceptual discords fall under the following four categories:

  1. Odd Behaviors
  2. Context Misrepresentation
  3. Bizarre Substitutions
  4. Nonsense
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Comic Devices Used in Perceptual Discords

Odd Behaviors

In the case of odd behaviors, we often laugh at the innocence of children or animals acting as adult humans. Witnessing the character contrast, our laughter is created by a harmless cognitive shift where we often imagine an underdog putting others in their place.

This was a common form of comedy in the 1960’s. Many laughed when Uncle Joe of Petticoat Junction was beaten in checkers by his dog. Similarly, Mister Ed featured a horse who could talk. The owner, Wilbur, was portrayed as a big klutz who inadvertently caused harm around him. Recognizing Mr. Ed’s animal inferiority,  we likely laughed at the wiser choice made by the horse.   

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Mr. Ed, the Talking Horse

Throughout the last decade, this concept has been played out with over-performances. Consider the babies in E-Trade and Evian that pose as adults. Several viral videos also feature animals going the extra mile to motivate themselves or their masters. Check out this Nolan Cheddar video where a mouse driven by “Eye of the Tiger”  musters up the energy to escape its trap: http://bit.ly/18vLk2b. 

At the other extreme of unusual behaviors are depictions of under-performance such as the foolishness exhibited by adults making futile attempts to be profound. Both the over-performance and under-performance approaches to discord work off a similar principle that laughter results when we witness behavioral anomalies.

Context Misrepresentation

Our second technique used in perceptual discords relates to our visualizing objects or scenes taken out of context.  Some of the top viral videos in our study showed unconventional routines or unusual settings surrounding the highlighted activity.  

In other cases, the viral videos make us laugh when we imagine a literal interpretation of idioms or the human depiction of abstract concepts. In each of these cases, the attempt at humor is based on audience detection of a mismatch with what their minds see as a common practice

Bizarre Substitutes

A concept similar to misrepresentation involves the substitution of animals or objects with a bizarre alternative. One popular technique includes anthropomorphism, where human attributes are ascribed to abstractions.  Allstate used this form of humor to depict the concept of “mayhem” through the careless habits of an unruly actor who exemplified the dire consequences of poor insurance coverage.

Some viral YouTube videos portray scenes of animal substitutes such as that found in the herding of cats, performing bulls and squirrels substituted for running bulls. Like sound imitations, these bizarre substitutes allow our imaginations to vicariously live through the substitute actor.

Nonsense

Our final comic device used in perceptual discord relates to nonsense. As a cognitive exercise, this form of humor makes us logically see something off kilter. Humor in this case arises out of our confusion with the relevance or choices made by the actor. Upon witnessing their naiveté or imbecile nature, we then laugh at blaming the confusion on the actor’s ineptness or empty dialogs.

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 7% involved some type of perceptual discord. This form of viral video engagement ranked number four, four and nine in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using perceptual discord as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #2 Putdowns

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Are you struggling with the thought of having to entertain your audience with your content? In our countdown of the top 10 ways to make your content funny, the use of putdowns comes in at number 3.

In fact, if you follow these 4 tested techniques for applying “humorous putdowns” to your YouTube videos, you can be assured of entertaining your audience while boosting their engagement as well.

Blonde4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Put-downs

The use of mockery capitalizes on our emotional reaction to watching others experience a well deserved putdown. Stemming from the Theory of Superiority, we often experience a sudden glory when dethroning others or elevating ourselves at the expense of others’ peculiarities.

In general, most viral videos featuring putdowns exhibit one or more of the following four characteristics:

  1. Mocked Peculiarities
  2. Lofty Conquest
  3. Society Satire
  4. Stereotyping
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Comic Devices Used in Putdowns

Mocked Peculiarities

The use of mockery dates back centuries as audiences watched imbeciles and dwarfs parade on stage. Baby boomers likely recall the inept Deputy Barney Fife of Mayberry, who was oblivious to his idiosyncrasies and quirky nature.

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The maladroit Barnie Fife with his naïve partner, Gomer Pyle

Seeing himself as a high standing citizen, we often laughed hysterically at his gullibility and delusions of grandeur. In the videos below, this putdown is often felt through background mockery.

Lofty Conquest

Our second technique used in putdowns taps into our desire to dethrone the self-righteous, the popular, the pretentious and the hyper-masculine.  Some of the top viral videos in our study showed scenes of humbled haughtiness featuring those we despise or compete against. A common technique is to use some form of outwitting that literally shames the victim or proves our superiority over them.

Society Satire

Check out some of these top viral videos that feature the sudden glory we feel when our society is mocked. Known as satire, we often relish the opportunity to poke fun of other cultures seen as pretentious or smug. This is often played out by exaggerating the cultural nuances or language peculiarities of audiences targeted by our sarcasm.

Similarly, we poke fun of celebrated life styles with parodies of popular shows, sports events or military operations. This is often done through witty dialogs (e.g., cheeky barbs) where the intent of the sarcasm is to mock a targeted society. 

Stereotypes

Our final comic device used in putdowns relates to mimicry and impersonations. One of the most popular ways of doing this is through the stereotyping of blondes and provincial men. The latter is often portrayed as an idiot or hypnotized under the spell of seduction. Another form of mockery includes the stereotyping of professions or positions of power.

Be Aware of Cultures Unreceptive to Putdowns

Although putdowns resonate well in Western Cultures like the US, it has limited appeal in more collectivist cultures. Many nations in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Southern Europe frown upon putdowns. This form of malicious joy runs counter to their relational and group-oriented values.

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 15% involved putdowns. This form of viral video engagement ranked number seven, six and two in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using putdowns as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

 

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #1 Exaggeration

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 Does the thought of inspiring your YouTube video communities with entertaining content make you nervous? What if your attempts at having fun simply fall flat? 

Follow these 4 tested techniques for applying exaggeration to your YouTube videos, and you will be well on your way towards engaging your audience. In fact, our study of the top viral videos demonstrated that humorous exaggeration is the number one technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.

exaggerationSo just when marketing folks are told to become publishers, we are now being told to become comedians if we want any traction from our YouTube videos.

4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Exaggeration

Exaggeration plays on many of our senses. We recognize it mentally and emotionally. Of the top viral videos we examined in this category, the most viewed YouTube videos were based on some sort of conceptual discord. In other words, we recognize something as over the top. The other YouTube videos were based on aberrant behaviors or visual anomalies as explained further.

In general, most viral videos featuring exaggeration fall under the following four categories:

  1. Exaggerated Outcomes
  2. Over-reactive Behaviors
  3. Exaggerated Qualities
  4. Understatements

Exaggeration Table

Comic Devices Used in “Over-the-Top” Humor

Exaggerated Outcomes

As a conceptual discord, we laugh when we witness over-the-top demos and storytelling. This theatrical shift from what we see as normal is often played out in the aftermath of bad dreams as well. And by adding a dramatic effect to our storylines, exaggerated dreams can also evoke our emotions like the infamous scene of Dorothy describing Oz when she awakes.

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Dorothy’s Family Laughing at Oz Nightmare

Gatorade capitalized on this technique when featuring Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant in nightmares of each other that lead to ridiculous responses. (http://bit.ly/15JN3k7).

Over-reactive Behaviors

Our second technique used in exaggeration taps into our emotional response to ridiculous behaviors. In this case, we laugh at how others take such extremes to make their point. Forceful demonstrations are often loaded with intensity so that we can appreciate the peculiar nature of others.

Some of the top viral videos in our study showed scenes of extreme naiveté or protectionism where we shamefully find ourselves or close ones exhibiting these same fanatic behaviors. The laughter in this case has much to do with pointing out our own quirks as overprotective Dads, star struck admirers or wired up Type A’s.

Exaggerated Qualities

Check out some of these top viral videos that feature the visual side of exaggeration. Seeing the visual anomaly, our brains often ask: “can that really be true?” Some of the most popular comic devices used in this form of wit include the display of supernatural performances, motion distortion, exaggerated body reactions and incredible allure.

But the key to using this humor technique is making it evident that the object of exaggeration is beyond the realms of possibility. For example, Aaron Rodgers throwing an 80 yard pass would amaze us; but LeBron James making a full court buzzer beater from the top of the stands would make us laugh.

Understatement

We also laugh at the other extreme. Consider this photo warning us of wet floors. Really? This popular form of comic wit is known as an “understatement.” In the videos featured below, we can see why we laugh at a profound grasp of the obvious or feeling underwhelmed.

social video understatement

Example of Understatement (Source: kenjonbro on Flickr)

The same applies to YouTube video scenes of characters oblivious to surrounding danger. Coca Cola, for example, features a sleepwalker unshaken by jungle danger in their 2010 super bowl commercial (http://bit.ly/cB9qJ9).

What Makes Exaggeration so Popular

The use of exaggeration dates back centuries as a comic device and popular figure of speech known as hyperbole. Consistent with the theory of incongruity, it suggests laughter results from seeing things out of sorts.

Using exaggeration can be a safe choice to consider for your viral video theme for the following reasons:

  1. It rarely offends any particular audience
  2. It can be easily grasped visually, emotionally or cognitively
  3. It can be easily produced in low budget settings (e.g., check out BlendTec’s 100M+ view channel success with a purported budget < $10K (http://bit.ly/di3sUP

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing spot TV ads (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted commercials that were subsequently posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 8% involved humorous exaggeration. This form of viral video engagement ranked number one, five and six in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using humor like this as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.