What Dad Jokes Can Teach Us About Social Media

You feel your chest tighten. Your pupils widen. Your heart sounds like it’s going to pump right out of your chest. You snap your head around and turn to face him. A dad. His shin-high gym socks, white sneakers, and logo-free baseball cap are itching for this moment. He’s ready. He’s about to make a joke.

While previously just groaned-about events, dad jokes no longer happen in a vacuum. They’ve been given a platform through the internet, and can come from anybody who’s ever referred to themselves jokingly, or not, as a dad. Just like an old pug, their beauty isn’t always appreciated by everyone—but those who love them, really, really love them.  We at Hootsuite definitely fall into this category.

Dad jokes, like the social media themed ones we shared last year, are not only a source of occasional (okay, constant) eye-rolling, but surprising places to find knowledge and inspiration. We reflected upon the art of the dad joke, and discovered some savvy social media tips and learnings—no cringing required.

Poke good-natured fun

One of the main reasons I’m sad about the fact that I will probably never be a dad, is the fear of missing out on the obviously mandatory course they all have to take on how to make fun of someone without causing deep-rooted trauma. Dad jokes have a knack for hitting just the right note when teasing but never going far enough to cause any lasting damage to the target.

A notorious place for social media managers to flex this dad joke skill is on Twitter. Twitter feuds have become the go-to format for good-natured teasing between brands and allow for companies to show their more human side. The formality that might go along with true business-to-business interactions is ignored, and in its place is a fun, casual back and forth.

A great example of this working for brands was seen when Old Spice poked some good-natured fun at Taco Bell when they tweeted “Why is it that ‘fire sauce’ isn’t made with real fire? Seems like false advertising.” The banter continued between the two companies, and got attention from media and audience members around the world.

Companies engage in sick burn-filled ‘fights’ with one another, but never go so far as to seriously insult or damage the reputation of the other brand. There is the understanding that both sides are benefiting from the faux feud, and providing entertainment for their audiences. To take this dad joke lesson to your own Twitter feed, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Don’t be bitter. Keep the interaction light-hearted and whimsical. If another brand starts what seems like a good-natured feud with you, mirror their tone.
  • Never bring the actual people behind the accounts into the feud. This is about two brands battling it out, not individual social media managers.
  • Stay genuine. If your interaction feels as if it was carefully planned in a marketing meeting, your audience will be able to tell and it won’t have the same effect.

Don’t try to be cool

While “I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom” has become a ubiquitous phrase, you can always count on dads to not try too hard to be cool. They will wear their jeans hemmed a little bit too short, they don’t care about brand names, and they care much more about being genuine than being cool. They know that at the end of the day their reliability and helpfulness is what makes them special to those around them.

This is important information for brands to keep in mind when executing a social media strategy. If you are exhausting yourself trying to relate to “kids these days,” you are probably missing out on the bigger picture.

People, especially young people under the age of 35 (no, I’m not going to say the ‘M’ word), are going to social media to connect with their friends and family and engage with topics that interest them. If you’re trying too hard, your blatant advertising or marketing attempts will only work to alienate and disrupt the user experience.

As Forbes contributor Blake Morgan explains, “The youth of today have grown up in a time where they were able to control their content more than any generation in history. Today’s brands need to learn how to be engaging—and it starts with being a good listener. Something most brands don’t know how to do still.”

Listen to the tone your audience responds to, and don’t try to push a voice that doesn’t naturally fit with your company’s brand.

Our blog post, 5 Ways Brands #Fail at Being Cool, outlines more ways brands miss the mark:

  1. They’re too late to the party
  2. They broke the wrong rules
  3. Wrong audience, wrong incentive, or both
  4. They’re inauthentic
  5. They have no place being cool

Has a dad joke ever tried to be anything but insanely goofy? Dads don’t take themselves too seriously. This builds an authenticity and trustworthiness that brands should take note of.

Build an authentic brand voice

In the same vein as refraining from trying to be cool, dad jokes work because they align with the “dad” brand voice. While of course they can be the coolest cats on the block, you don’t necessarily expect them to be. Staying authentic is the number one key to the dad brand voice, and one that your business can learn from.

One of the things dads do best with their jokes is removing any hint of ego. Good-humored self deprecation is a great tool for building trust and authenticity, and dads do this better than anyone else. To build an egoless brand voice to rival that of the most “daddest” dads around, keep these tips in mind:

  • Stay vulnerable. Embrace your brand’s less-serious flaws and quirks and poke fun at them through social media. I’m not saying that you should broadcast any internal scandals or trouble, but there could be great opportunities for some playful social media content.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.  If your dad is anything like my dad, he’ll do anything to make you laugh—shoving gummy bears up his nose or dancing around the yard with the family dog. If not at the expense of me or my brother, my dad’s jokes will be at the expense of himself. Brands can take this approach as “any attempt for a brand to take itself too seriously on social media is inherently disingenuous and will likely be ignored at best or scorned at worst.”

If it ain’t broke…

Every dad has an arsenal of jokes he’ll make over and over again and which never fail (at least in his eyes). He never fails to get a reaction, and jumps on any opportunity where he can broadcast his tried and true comedic one-liners. He  knows what works, and doesn’t’ see the need to deviate too far from this formula.

With social media and content marketing, there are definitely unfailing and dependable practices that can make up the core of your strategy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you never try anything new. However, your base approach probably relies on the following key practices, and for good reason. Our Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing offers the following staples for your social media and content marketing plans that we can’t see drastically changing anytime soon.

  1. Use hashtags as a virtual filing system, and check what kinds of hashtags your competitors use and get inspired to create your own.
  2. Ask the right questions to engage your audience.
  3. Listen to your audience to keep track of relevant conversations and customers.
  4. Offer something of value that your audience can’t find anywhere else as a means of building valuable relationships.
  5. Build relationships through Twitter chats to generate conversation around your brand and build connections with participants and the host.
  6. Be consistent with frequency, timing, brand voice, and engagement.
  7. Use engaging images, as “content with relevant images get 94 percent more views than content without.”

These key tips can become your manifesto of sorts whether you’re just getting started on building a social media marketing plan, or need a refresher on what drives a successful marketing campaign. Just like those trusty and often-repeated dad jokes, we wouldn’t trade these social media tips for the world.

In the spirit of Father’s Day we came up with a few more pieces of quality comedy to supplement last year’s supply of social media dad jokes. Make sure you join in on the fun and help celebrate dad by tweeting us with your own creations!

Me: “I’m verified on Twitter!”

Dad: Nice to meet you, verified on Twitter. I’m dad.”

What did the confused dad say to his developer son?

What’s app-ening!?

How much sugar goes into a picture-perfect cake?

At least 250 Insta-GRAMS.

How do social media managers get ready for Halloween?

Trick or tweeting.

How do you dance with Facebook?

With lots of algo-rhythm.

Why didn’t your photo of your glass of water get any likes on Instagram?

It didn’t go through a filter.

How do social media managers act towards their loved ones?

They tweet them right.