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How Can You Write Better Copy to Appeal to Gen Z Humor




Q: Knock, knock. 

A: Who’s there? 

Q: Wooden shoe. 

A: Wooden shoe, who? 

Q: Wooden shoe like to know!

Like many other things in the world, humor is very subjective. Take a look at the joke above. Depending on the individual and the type of humor that they sport, this joke can draw multiple reactions from people. 

Some might have cracked a smile or even let out a small laugh at the joke above. But other people might have not found it amusing at all. 

The reaction people have to jokes and to humor, in general, can depend on many factors. It usually is influenced by:

  • Age group
  • Location
  • Nationality
  • Education
  • Gender

For example, we are all familiar with the concept of stand-up comedy. Generally, in western cultures, stand-up is performed by one comedian at a time. But things change a bit once we reach Japan. Although Japanese people still have one-person stand-up acts, they also have comedy acts called manzai

Manzai is a traditional comedy act that involves two people. The two performers are called the tsukkomi (the straight man) and the boku (the funny man), who trade jokes at a great speed. These jokes are generally word games, that revolve around misunderstandings, double-talk, puns, and some other verbal gags.

Foreigners might have a hard time understanding these jokes, as they come at a fast rate and use Japanese verbal gags that might be hard to process for non-natives. This is not to say that foreigners will never understand manzai. They just have to acquire a taste for it.

Humor and Social Media: Are They a Good Pair?

Now, it’s not hard to see that humor is subjective. You don’t need to visit other countries to notice that. 

After all, we have all probably been in the awkward position of telling a joke that nobody laughed at. And yet, we still put ourselves out there and try our best to make other people laugh, even at the risk of embarrassing ourselves. Why is that?

The reason is very straightforward. Humor is a vital bonding element. We use it in order to form connections with other people and create a sense of belonging, mutual understanding, and trust. 

But how does this play out in marketing, and more importantly, in social media marketing? Well, in Humor Effectiveness in Social Video Engagement, James Barry and Sandra Graça offer us an insight into how humor works in advertising and social media:

In the case of advertising, the effectiveness of humor is often attributed to its capacity to boost message understanding and acceptance (Alden and Hoyer 1993). But when viewed in the context of social media and content marketing, humor is also seen as a welcoming diversion from the content clutter over-whelming social media audiences. Barry and Gironda (2017b), for example, demonstrated that humor impacts social media influence indirectly through inspiration. In effect, the levity taps into an emotional sentiment that sets the stage for marketers to spark an inspirational appeal for their brands in an era of info-besity.1

With this in mind, we can say that humor is an element worth considering when drafting your next social media campaign. But as we previously mentioned, people’s sense of humor depends on many factors. 

So if you’re targeting the Gen Z age group, how can you effectively use humor in your copies? Let’s find out: 

Understanding Gen Z Humor

Before looking into Gen Z humor, let’s see who Gen Z is. Generation Z, commonly known as Gen Z or zoomers, is a demographic cohort that succeeds Millenials. Although there is no agreed age and date range to define this demographic cohort, many believe that the starting years for this generation are the late ‘90s. 

How Does Gen Z Approach Humor?

Although considered more educated and aware, Gen Z seems to be under much bigger levels of stress than older generations. In fact, a study done by the American Psychological Association discovered that “91 percent of Gen Zs between ages 18 and 21 say they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom due to stress in the past month compared to 74 percent of adults overall.”

This stress and the rising incidence of mental health issues can be linked to various factors, such as:

  • Climate change
  • Economic instability & crisis, debt
  • War, school shootings, and terrorist attacks
  • The pressure of constantly broadcasting oneself on social media 

Without a doubt, the presence of social media outlets that constantly feeds us information from all around the world is a big player when it comes to the rising levels of distress across Gen Z. With so many issues being thrown around into internet discussions, it is no wonder that Gen Z started using humor to understand and cope with all kind of events, especially the stress-inducing ones. 

Although Millenials have been the firsts to be exposed to the internet, it is Gen Z that was actually brought up with the internet as we know it today. The fact that Gen Z grew up with constant access to social media and the internet also plays a great role in the development of the unique humor that zommers use. 

In many ways, the humor that Generation Z uses is nonsensical, but when it does not dive into the absurd, their humor can be deeply sarcastic and nihilistic, using memes and irony to broadcast different kinds of issues online. With self-awareness and a deep understanding that things are probably not going to get better, Gen Z’s humor can often breach a dark note. 

And although other generations understand the jokes that Gen Z makes, it is hard for them to fully comprehend the overwhelming experiences that this generation goes through to form such a unique form of comedy. 

How to Use Gen Z Humor in Your Copy

You might have figured out that Gen Z humor is no walk in the park. But if you are targeting this younger generation, then you need to become well-versed in this field. After all, memes are something that Millenials and Gen Z alike appreciate a lot, so you need to include them in your social media posts. 

Here are our tips on how to use Gen Z humor in social media and social media copies:

1.Do Research

a) On Your Audience

No matter the audience you’re targeting, you must always perform a great amount of research to get to know your potential buyers better. Gen Z is no different. 

A good way of getting to know your audience is by building a buyer persona. That way, you will have a clear image of who you are selling to. But just reading about Gen Z might not help you understand it entirely, which might make your buyer persona flawed. 

What you can do besides reading is observing and directly interacting with Gen Z. Here are the steps we recommend taking: 

  • Start by looking for the platforms that attract Gen Z the most.
  • Follow some influential and well-known Gen Z representatives and observe the kind of content they post. 
  • Go in the content section to get a better grasp of how Gen Z reacts to different kinds of content and how the people from this demographic cohort interact with each other. 
  • See what kind of content scores the biggest number of likes, comments, and shares. 

While being a silent observer, you will be able to note down behavioral patterns on humorous content. But you shouldn’t stop here. You can also directly interact with Gen Z to get even more insight into the type of content that they consume. 

To do so, try answering comments, sending out DMs, and even asking people to complete questionnaires. By doing this you will get direct answers and see what Gen Z truly wants and what kinds of brands attract it. 

b) On Other Companies 

Your audience is not the only thing you should be researching. Take note of other companies as well. There are many other brands that have been using humor, especially Gen Z humor, to get a bigger following. A few fantastic examples would be Denny’s, Netflix, and Wendy’s. 

There are many things that you can learn from brands using memes and Gen Z humor. We can see them not only taking a jab at other companies but also taking a jab at themselves. Netflix does that especially well in the example above, admitting that it is hiring adult people to play teenagers in teen movies and series and making fun of it. 

Don’t just look at the big brands though! Take a look at your local competitors and see what methods they are using to gain a bigger following and engage their audience. Once you have that pinpointed, you can start crafting your own Gen Z labeled marketing campaigns.

2. Select the Right Platforms

Selecting the right platform is just as important as writing a good copy and making a great meme. Think of it like this. Let’s say you have mastered Gen Z humor and now you are applying it to your copies and visuals. But you’re not getting the response you want, because you have been posting your content on social media platforms that are not frequently used by Gen Z. 

So then, what are the platforms that Gen Z uses most?

Well, the latest study should the following: Majorities of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram or Snapchat and about half say they use TikTok, with those on the younger end of this cohort – ages 18 to 24 – being especially likely to report using Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%) or TikTok (55%).

The platforms used are more or less the same ones, but what differs is the time spent on each one. You must figure which platform you’d like to invest in and start making content specifically for that platform. A good thing to remember is that video content does quite well with Gen Z, as seen from the exceptional popularity that TikTok has gained in the last few years. 

Although video content might be harder to nail and involves more resources, it is definitely worth a try, not only on TikTok but also on other platforms, such as Instagram. In order to have an even distribution of content on all of the platforms that you’re using, you will need a social media tool.

SocialBee can help you there. With our platform, you will be able to schedule your posts, customize each form of content for each platform’s requirements, and get the analytics you need for optimal social media performance.

3. Follow the Trends 

Social media trends come and go. One day you wake up and you see everybody using the same meme template or doing the same dance on TikTok. You can never know exactly what trends are going to take off, but you can definitely do your best to participate in them. 

In order to be able to participate in certain trends, you must observe social media platforms constantly. This is where following some big names on social media can be very beneficial, as it is customary for the bigger creators to participate in most of the popular trends. 

But trends don’t limit themselves to memes and video content. They can also influence the way we speak. For example, there are a lot of expressions that Gen Z coined and is continuously using in day-to-day interactions. 

Here are some words that are part of the Gen Z vocabulary: 

  • Basic (regular, boring)
  • Bop (a good song)
  • Boujee (lavish)
  • Catch them hands (get in a fight with somebody)
  • Drip (outfit)
  • Gucci (all good)
  • No Cap (seriously)
  • Swole (buff)
  • Whip (car)

Although you might think that using these words in your copies will get you closer to your audience, you should be careful. An overuse of Gen Z slang words will make you look like a tryhard and it is quite likely that your behavior will only get mocked by the ones you’re trying to impress. 

Bottom Line 

Using Gen Z humor can be daunting, but we don’t think you have to try so hard. Slowly integrating memes and funny copies into your social media marketing campaigns is a great way to approach Gen Z humor. And at the end of the day, the most important thing is for you and your team to have fun with it and try to bond with your Gen Z audience. 

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