Posted on 24 Apr '24

How to Use Humour in Your Postgraduate Marketing

When it comes to social media, we all know that nothing quite drives engagement like laughter. Memes, pithy Twitter (X) one-liners and silly TikTok videos sweep across the internet like wildfire, all demonstrating the power of humour for spreading a message.

When done right, humour can be an excellent tool in your digital postgraduate marketing. However, the funny-but-not-cringe goldilocks zone can be a narrow target to strike! We’ve taken a look at some ways to get it right.

#1 Don’t force it

A good rule of thumb to abide by when deciding if you should use humour as part of your marketing strategy is that a failed joke is often worse than no joke at all. Anyone who’s ever suffered through the deafening silence after a bad quip at a stand-up show can attest to the fact that people can be particularly unforgiving of lacklustre attempts at humour.

If inspiration strikes, then we encourage you to go for it! But remember that a quality over quantity approach is crucial here, and an attempt to fill some pre-determined joke quota will likely backfire.

#2 Take inspiration from the familiar

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating funny content that will resonate with prospective students. While trends come and go, the fundamental student experiences that form the basis for so much observational humour – impending deadlines, exam stress, housemate drama, all-nighters – (mostly) stay the same year in and year out.

For example, Newcastle University combined old-age self-deprecation about the temptation to procrastinate with on-the-pulse Gen Z-style slang and a newly circulating meme in this playful TikTok.

We’ve also found that cynical humour exploring the darker, more challenging side of Masters and PhD study can play particularly well with a postgraduate audience, and this has formed the basis of some of our most popular blog content.

#3 Run with what works

Don’t underestimate the amount of mileage you can get out of a good running joke. The University of Chichester, which boasts one of the most popular university TikTok accounts in the UK, regularly dedicates videos to poking fun at the fact that basically no one knows where Chichester is. Here’s another example. And another. And – well, you get the idea.

A well-executed running ‘in joke’ can not only help you generate more content with less effort, but helps create a strong brand identity for prospective students, and a sense of community amongst current ones.

#4 Mind the (generation) gap

It’s a well-known phenomenon that what was deemed funny by a previous generation can often be derided by the next. For example, a propensity for ‘millennial humour’ can often draw scathing criticism in Gen-Z dominated corners of the internet. The obvious way to avoid this pitfall is to thoroughly research your audience (even if that means spending more time that you’d like down an endless TikTok rabbit hole).

#5 Recruit student content creators

No one understands what is funny to postgraduate students better than students themselves – so don’t be afraid to outsource content creation to them! Hiring students on a casual basis to produce videos or posts for social media is a low-stakes way to try out ideas, and you’ll always have the final say on what goes live.

FindAUniversity take pride in being experts in postgraduate education. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for regular insight, comment and case studies.

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