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.
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:
- Visual Irony
- Ironic Temperament
- Ironic Persona
- Situational 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.