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 sentimental humor 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 sentimental humor is the twelfth most effective technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.
4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Sentimental Humor
Sentimental humor taps into our emotions through an arousal-safety mechanism. For example, in the first stage or arousal-safety, emotions are aroused with sentimentality, empathy or some form of negative anxiety. As the story-line develops, we then see this heightened arousal state as safe, cute or inconsequential. This shift from high arousal to relief is what creates laughter.
A way to imagine this type of humor is to consider how we laugh. Comic wit, for example, is normally expressed as “Ah Hah.” Laughter from disparaging humor (e.g., putdowns) is normally expressed as “Ha, Ha.” Sentimental humor would be expressed as “Ahhh.” This could happen when we witness someone escaping danger as well as when we experience a child doing something cute.
Among the types of humor that capitalize on this arousal-safety mechanism are the following:
- Child Innocence
- Fear & Anxiety Relief
- Inner Secrets
Children can easily arouse our emotions with their youthful discoveries and mimicry of adulthood. The laughter tends to result when we see them successfully overcome their struggles to get through complicated situations.
Story-lines usually start with a sentimental attachment or an empathetic feeling towards the child. We then laugh when we see how their first battles with courage, romance or independence conclude with a happy ending.
In some situations, we may be laughing at how their trials prove more fruitful than our own. This may be the reason why we love scenes of children reflecting our own inner self.
No character perhaps aroused us more with child innocence than Shirley Temple. The child prodigy started her film career at the age of 3. With her innocent coquetry, she was known for her advice to clergymen and other adults that often had profound implications.
In the following film clips, we see several viral YouTube videos based on child innocence where the laughter results from children topping their adult counterparts as well as our vicariously living through their incorruptibility.
Fear & Anxiety Relief
Another successful way to get laughter from sentimental humor is through the relief of fear and anxiety. For example, just when we expect some disturbing outcome, a story-line then shows the fears to be baseless. This is often done with scenes of individuals barely escaping tense situations.
The arousal-safety mechanism in this case starts with a buildup of suspense. As the fearful sensation rouses within us, we then experience a physiological shift when the fearful situation fizzles into something inconsequential. This swing in emotional response is what produces laughter.
Sentimental humor can also be created through melodrama. Consider how we laugh when we experience someone’s over theatrical behaviors. For example, a story-line may start with someone’s passionate reaction to a mundane situation. But as we begin to process their intensity with our own empathetic reflections, we then find the cause of their melodrama to be unfounded.
In effect, this arousal-safety mechanism takes us from our own passionate empathy to a feeling of relief from the false alarm. Laughter then results from the arousal-safety shift. Similarly, we might laugh as we conclude the melodramatic actor is rather pathetic.
A fourth method used in sentimental humor derives from the exposure of inner secrets such as when we witness someone passing in and out of dreams. A fantasy, for example, could arouse our emotions. We then laugh from a shift in these emotions as we are made aware of the false state.
This arousal-safety mechanism could also work when an innocent scene turns out to have sexual overtones. In essence, we are likely laughing at the tension relief we experience from keeping our inner desires secret.
Finally, inner secrets can produce laughter when we observe and hear a contradicting inner voice. In this case, we are likely experiencing an emotional shift when the imagined inner voice allows us to safely escape from a hostile or awkward situation.
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 3% involved some type of sentimental humor. This form of viral video engagement ranked number eight, twelve and ten 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 sentimental humor as an entertaining content marketing theme?
Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.