It’s increasingly common for a brand to stand their ground and “clapback” with a sharp or funny comment. Key to the response is, above all else, a sarcastic tone.
So is there a risk to being sassy? Of course. It may not be brand or situation appropriate at all. Instead of being funny, cutting or witty, you may just upset people. Humour is a wonderful thing, but it is subjective. When people understand the place where it is coming from it can work really well. .
Some people are naturally funny and appreciated for their humour. Others have to work at it and they get positive responses. Then there are people who try their best but it never really works. Brands are the same – start from a place of respect and consider how tolerant your key audiences are. Be consistent to your values. Remember, everything you do or say must be legally defensible.
More importantly, are you sensitive enough to see things from someone else’s point of view?
Recently, in my hometown of Bournemouth, the official Twitter account manager posted a response to a road user who stated that “a small group of workmen drinking tea”.
A local politician exploded with indignation. He had a point. This was a hot button topic for the town as the roadworks are having a major impact. They also had another point – that this was public money.
“This sort of sarcastic comment is utterly and completely unacceptable from an organization that is entirely funded by the taxpayer. Taxpayers also pay the salary of whoever wrote that.”
In my view, it was only the last section about “last time we checked employment law” which is problematic. Otherwise, the post is factual. With tempers running high because of the significant impact of the investment in infrastructure, it may have been a safer bet to avoid “Doing a Wendy’s”.
Keep it simple. Walking in someone else’s shoes – is this funny, antagonistic, sarcastic or offensive. Think of the most easily offended person you know and go from there. It’s a lot safer, especially if you’re spending other people’s money.