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Nobody can do social media humor like Gen Z

Every brand tries to strike the perfect balance between funny, informative, and engaging content. Social media humor, however, is unlike comedic advertising predecessors, and requires some analysis for brands to fully understand it.

The balance between authenticity and advertisement can be very difficult to reach on social media, especially when a brand is catering to a Gen Z audience on TikTok. Don’t worry, though —  here’s a rundown on Gen Z humor and what makes it so unique.

A return to absurd humor

Gen Z humor can be dark, obscure, and absurd; the world is incredibly messy, so we might as well crack a few jokes about it. Climate change, political turmoil, and economic instability define Gen Z’s most formative life experiences, and we need to feel informed and empowered to take all of that on as we grow into positions of authority and responsibility. 

Humor is a great way for Gen Z to maintain a positive attitude while facing difficulties. The Washington Post’s TikTok account does this well, approaching tough current events without blatant attempts to garner subscribers. No ads, just knowledge and laughs. 

@washingtonpost

The ship – which is twice the height of the Washington Monument – was wedged sideways across the canal. No, the captain wasn’t actually on TikTok.

♬ original sound – Tara’s Mum and Dad

How to relate to Gen Z

We love content that is #relatable, because it allows us to feel “in” on a joke. 

Anthropomorphizing objects is effective for relatable humor: if you give an object a familiar personality, anything said on the brand account is more personal and authentic. Plus, after giving an inanimate object a personality, it might start to flirt, à la Ryanair airplanes:

@ryanair

yeah we’re cheap, but we’re the best you’ll ever have #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #ryanair

♬ talk to me boy – skyler

Gen Z also enjoys poking fun at the nostalgic experiences we share as a generation, like Microsoft WordArt. As digital natives, Gen Z  used it when we were typing up everything from book reports to fan fiction, so any modern reference to the relic feels like a Gen Z (and Millennial, too) inside joke.

@wendys

the 4 for $4 just makes financial sense… Duh.  #fyp

♬ original sound – Wendys

Building an honest relationship with your audience.

Brands shouldn’t take themselves too seriously on social media. Honesty is key to authenticity. Sometimes, funny content is that which just states the facts. In the words of Steak-umm:

A self-aware approach to social media humor can help a brand gain followers, and fans of a brand’s comedy will want (nay, demand) access to the product. 

The aforementioned Ryanair? Well, almost all of their TikToks are met with incredible passion from American viewers, even though they’re an Irish airline (and will not fly you to Dallas).

How to tap into Gen Z’s sense of humor

As social media natives, Gen Z has a certain level of social media literacy that older generations will have a really hard time mastering. (Yes, that includes Millennials!) Brands should actually talk to Gen Z to get a grasp on our sense of humor. Or, they can outsource some of their content to Gen Z creators (with credit, of course!), like hormone health tech start-up Aavia:

Too often, a brand’s social media accounts will simply copy-and-paste the latest meme template, filling their product name and something about being tired or hungry or in love with Idris Elba (because that’s all Gen Z is /s) and then hit send. Content like that is inauthentic and simply not funny. Look no further than Brands Saying Bae, a Twitter account dedicated to calling out cringy brand behaviors. 

Is my brand funny?

Slide into our DMs and we’ll let you know.


JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at info@juvconsulting.com if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, orsign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.

Leah Butz is a Copywriter & Content Contributor living in Queens, New York. If you don’t catch her biking around on her 1977 Motobecane, then she’s probably at home baking a new bread recipe. Sometimes she posts on Instagram at @containsham.