Everyone needs a good laugh now and then, so why not use your social media accounts to provide a little bit of humor throughout the workday?

There is always something to laugh about at the Roundpeg office. Whether we are sharing a silly picture of the cats or a funny quote one of our team members said, we like to add a bit of humor to our different social media channels. But should your company do the same? And how far is too far when it comes to making jokes on the Internet?

Everyone’s sense of humor is different so there aren’t always hard and fast rules for this sort of thing, but for businesses and business professionals, here are some easy ways to fail at being funny on social media.

Be a copycat

Someone once said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that quote does not apply to your social media profiles. I know it sounds corny and cliche, but you need to be yourself. An easy way to fail at being funny on Facebook or Twitter is by trying to emulate another brand’s personality.

Just because I think Chelsea Handler is hilarious doesn’t mean I’m going to start firing off tweets of a similar fashion from my account. Why is that a bad idea? First, it’s completely inauthentic. I can be snarky at times, but that’s not the kind of content that regularly lives on my Twitter feed and my followers would notice a change in the tone of my Twitter account.

The same applies to a business account. Say your business is in the home improvement industry and you like The Home Depot’s social media personality so much you start to mimic them on all of your social media profiles. That’s a big problem. Why? Because if you start trying to tweak your social media personality to be exactly like another brand’s your customers are going to notice. Your customers shop with you because they like YOU, not The Home Depot (no offense Home Depot) so don’t become a copycat. Use what makes your brand unique and play to your strengths. You can always use another company’s social media account for inspiration, but not for identical content.

Don’t think before you tweet

Have I tweeted and deleted? Of course I have, I’m human. But most of the time I delete tweets because there’s a spelling error or I used the wrong emoji (don’t judge me, you have probably done it too). There are countless examples of people tweeting something they thought was funny and it completely backfired on them. One of the more memorable instances is Justine Sacco. If you’re not familiar with Justine’s fiasco, she nonchalantly tweeted something offensive without weighing the pros and cons and ended up losing her job. Oh, and she was the director of corporate communications at IAC. Yeah, I’m not making this up people.

Please, please, please think before you tweet! If you have even the smallest inclination you might be crossing the line, don’t hit publish, post or send. Ask multiple coworkers to get a consensus on whether or not your post is inappropriate. It’s always better to have a second opinion than to post and live with regret and guilt later. As a business owner, you’ll need to come up with a set of guidelines for employees when it comes to posting on the company social media accounts. If everyone is on the same page, you’re less likely to run into any issues.

I know everyone’s sense of humor is different and what I may find offensive, you don’t, but that’s not how the Internet works. Someone can easily see your tweet or Facebook post and cause a social media firestorm in a matter of hours. You might think because you don’t have five million followers that no one will see or care about your post, but they will and they won’t let you forget about it even after you have apologized for it. Avoid all of this and take a few seconds to think about what you’re posting before you hit publish.

Don’t listen to your audience

Feedback is really important when it comes to trying to be humorous on social media. You can pretend to be blissfully unaware of their comments, but that will only get you into more trouble. Listen to your audience. Read their comments or replies. Are they praising you or questioning the content you’re posting? If your audience is starting to question who is running your social media accounts, maybe it’s time to dial it down (read more about how good Twitter accounts go bad here). Don’t get defensive, just be mindful that people will notice a change in  your voice on social media and they might not fully understand where it’s coming from. If you want to add some humor into your social media accounts you’re going to have to start interacting with your followers, so be on your best behavior. A good rule of thumb to follow is; if you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it on social media.

The easiest way to succeed at being funny on social media is by being yourself and staying true to your brand. If it just doesn’t feel natural, maybe it’s best to put your efforts into other areas. And, if you’re truly fed up with social media all together you can always call Roundpeg. We’d be happy to take your social media accounts off your hands and run them for you. That way you can spend more time focusing on your customers and leave us to come up with the perfect, witty post for your Facebook page.

FREE Business Advice Delivered to Your Desktop.