Are you like many that are hesitant to use humor in your content? Your fears are not unfounded given that many humorous attempts have left audiences confused or even offended. On the other hand, studies show that nearly 70% of high performing commercials include some form of entertainment, most of which is based on humor.
If you follow these 4 tested techniques for applying “awkwardness” to your YouTube videos, you have a great opportunity to engage your audiences without the worry of falling flat. In fact, our study of the top viral videos demonstrated that the use of awkwardness is the fourteenth most effective technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.
4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Awkwardness
Why we laugh at awkward moments has much to do with the pleasure derived from seeing others fail or suffer misfortune. Stemming from the Comic Theory of Superiority, this disparaging form of humor leads to a feeling of sudden glory when we displace our own histories of embarrassing moments onto others.
Among the types of humor that capitalize on awkwardness are the following:
- Remorseful Regrets
- Uncomfortable Settings
- Exercising Humility
- Revealed Secrets
One way to enjoy others’ misfortunes is through the depiction of embarrassing situations where victims are left speechless. Consider how we laugh at those experiencing fear and remorse after they realize they are in a “no win” situation. Geico did this by showing Abe Lincoln faced with a tough predicament of being honest or offending his wife.
The laughter in these cases typically results from the remorse felt by the victim from their regretful actions or statements. By displacing own recollection of these embarrassments onto others, we are in effect saying: “Thank God, that did not happen to me.” Arguably, this laughter increases the more a victim is caught off guard or left with an unsolvable quandary.
In the sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, Robert and Ray Barone often found themselves in a sticky situation. Both were prone to engaging their mouths before their brains as regretful statements and actions put them in the dog house. We laughed, for example, when Ray was forced to choose between ingratiating his dominating mother or his wife.
Another successful way to get laughter from awkwardness is through scenes of discomfort that arises when someone gets too intimate or discusses matters better left to themselves. A number of commercials feature the discomfort that men in particular feel when other guys get too close or expose their creepy behaviors. Doritos capitalized on this with their ad featuring a man licking another man’s fingers.
A similar sense of misfortune is realized when a young boy faces the dreaded kiss of an assertive girl or when a father is pressed to answer “where do babies come from?” We are likely reliving our own experiences of the fear that results from being put on a spot.
Displaced embarrassment can also arise when we witness others having to explain themselves after exposing their vulnerabilities. In this case, we are laughing at the relief from not being the one who has to exercise humility. Southwest uses this technique in their “wanna get away” campaigns. The story-line features characters often put on the spot publicly to explain their mistakes.
This technique especially works well when featuring men inadvertently exposing their feminine or child sides. This feeling of shame can also result when quiet words are broadcast publicly or when surrounding audiences get the wrong impression from seemingly perverted behaviors.
Our final method used to create awkward moments involves the exposure of someone’s embarrassing intentions. This often includes the unraveling of a character’s foiled deceptions when caught red handed.
Other techniques include the detection of a man’s true colors or his inappropriate glances at another woman. In this case, we are likely laughing at their behavioral hypocrisy as well as their misfortune of having a poor disguise.
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 awkwardness. This form of viral video engagement ranked number five, fifteen and fifteen 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 awkwardness as an entertaining content marketing theme?
Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.