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Best Practices to Avoid April Fools’ Blunders

Written by Courtney Raguso, Social Media Content Creator

Why do brands celebrate April Fools?

April Fools’ Day is the one day of the year where companies can have some fun on social media and indulge in trickery with consumers. It also creates the opportunity to generate some awareness, boost engagement, and, if done right, go viral. Some companies are in it for the sales, and most consumers will see right through that. Others are in it for connecting with their audience and improving the customer experience… as they should be. It’s usually all in good fun, of course, and who doesn’t appreciate a well-executed practical joke? It gives brands a chance to show off a sense of humor, personality and appear relatable. April Fools’ Day pranks are supposed to be creative, relevant and, of course, harmless. There is a right and wrong way to do it, and if you don’t tread lightly, you can hurt your brand image. Not everyone sees humor the same way. So, it’s safe to just post something that relates to your audience and brand identity. That way, it is still relevant and your audience will appreciate your wittiness instead of judging your character, if they didn’t get your joke. Now, is an odd time to be joking around because there is honestly nothing funny about what this pandemic has been causing. Let’s be honest, pretty much every day for the last month has felt like a cruel joke. Some brands are even using the hashtag #GiveThanksNotPranks to protest the holiday. They are saying the forced positivity is insensitive and feels like an insult to anyone suffering out on the front lines of this crisis. As that can be very true, if the joke is light hearted and doesn’t bring up sensitive topics then you are in the clear. Some, however, still participated in the holiday. Amazon Prime Video announced a spinoff of “The Boys” featuring a bunch of dogs, hence “The Good Boys.” Snoop Dog teamed up with In Defense of Animals, an animal rights advocacy group, to promote their campaign “Too Cruel for School,” and announced that he was changing his name to “Snoop Frog.” As for a few others, some were not so smart, like the Korean pop star Kim Jaejoong claiming he tested positive for COVID-19 as a joke. Not funny. Now is the time to walk a fine line. 

The Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t make fun of other brands or tease your customers. Doing so could result in damage to your own brand image.

Do make fun of yourself in a way that also boosts your brand image.

Don’t try to sell a real product or service. Pushing too hard for people to buy is a turn off, just have some fun.

Do align your prank with a real trend and then take it to extreme heights.

Don’t bring up sensitive topics. If you have to question whether the prank is appropriate or not, it probably isn’t.

Do think about legal precautions. Make sure the hoax won’t welcome a lawsuit.

 

Some miss the mark…totally. Then there are the ones that go viral.

So, how creative can you get? Although freedom sparks lots of clever creativity, there are some companies that take it too far to total sabotage or just not far enough and bring eye-rolling predictability. Both extremes are bad and will hurt your brand image. 

Being humorous isn’t easy for everyone, and integrating humor into a brand is a lot harder. It is an art, and there must be a balance between being funny and staying on-brand. Thanks to social media and technology, there are plenty of ways you can join the fun and get creative. Some companies go for a more subtle approach and some less, but what makes an April Fool’s post successful is the execution and strategy. Don’t post just for the sake of posting. It will do you less good. If you are not careful, your brand can be perceived in ways such as being malicious or sound tone deaf. The most successful pranks have a strong brand voice and focus their audience. The goal is to be humorous while still working in a way to convince people why this prank should make them like their brand even more. They are careful and relevant in the message they send out. If you are careless or end up straying too far from your established brand voice, you can confuse your audience and even upset them. So, it’s best to think it through first and strategize. Think of your brand such as your products and services, but remember to also think about your audience and how you can make that positive connection with them.

Humor is a great way to connect with people, and integrating it into your marketing correctly takes skill, calculation and a lot of creativity! It can help drive attention and break through the noise of other content. Plus, if you get a consumer to laugh, odds are they’ll remember you in a positive way. Once you create that positive connection, they will probably want to listen more and ultimately act. Now when it comes to an idea, there are many routes you can go. Some brands go for fake product launches or announcements. Others post fake news or a new service or feature. There are many ways you can execute your prank. You can create an email blast, social media post, build a webpage or even add a temporary feature to your product. Check out what some of these big brands did:

1.Product Launch → Amazon Alexa showcases capabilities of product in a cute way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdhxzqkvkZw&feature=emb_title

2.Build A Landing Page That FoolsShutterstock promotes its “Shutterstock Library.”

https://www.shutterstock.com/sv/discover/shutterstock-library

3.Create A Feature That Fools → Yelp gave users a scare with this illusion.

https://twitter.com/mikmaaac/status/980511806463533056/photo/1

4.Create an Email Blast → BirchBox offer of a “free joke.”

https://s3.amazonaws.com/movableink-blog-production/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/12193442/Birchbox-Tiers.png

5.Post on social Media → LEGO announces the “Find My Brick” app.

https://twitter.com/LEGO_Group/status/1112625676836880384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1112625676836880384&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.brandwatch.com%2Fblog%2Fbest-april-fools-pranks-2019%2F

As you can see, all these brands were relevant and on-brand with a clear message. These are just a few examples to show how much you can achieve with opportunities like these. If you can execute your digital strategy well, your April Fools’ prank will be successful. So, whether you’re planning a simple prank or a full-fledged campaign, the objective here is to increase engagement, broaden reach and spread something positive. There has been recent backlash on the idea of participating in April Fools’ Day this year due to the Coronavirus, and some brands have opted to sit out this year, including Google, who is notorious for taking part in the holiday. Strategy always matters, and there is a time and place to post. Many brands chose to not participate in the holiday due to the controversy of fake news and feel that now is not the time to be fooling people. At the end of the day, what really matters is your intentions and execution. The prank not only needs to be relevant, contextual and on-brand, but also spread something positive, and especially during these hard times some people could use a laugh.

At MSM DesignZ, we are focused on bringing something positive to our community, and we can help your brand do that too. At times like this, where our communication with one another is affected, we need to have a solution to help handle these aspects. Thanks to social media and our digital tools, we keep our clients connected with their customers in the best way possible and build meaningful relationships without the need for any need for physical interactions. Now it’s even more important than ever for businesses to communicate with their customers to stay on top of their social presence as well as website updates. We are assisting in all areas for our clients. Visit our contact page at https://www.msmdesignz.com/contact/, and we’ll work with you to devise a custom plan that will keep your brand alive and well. We look forward to working with you!

Sources

https://www.mdgadvertising.com/marketing-insights/10-great-on-brand-april-fools-campaigns/

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4249-april-fools-pranks.html

https://mashable.com/2016/04/01/april-fools-brands-laughing-matter/

https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2019/04/april-fools-content-risk/