Pitch-perfect sarcasm can give your content an amusing, edgy flair. Depending on your blog or business, a deadpan tone might fit seamlessly with your brand personality and help make your copy more engaging.
Yet, before you start treating your blog like an open mic night, it’s important to understand how to write sarcasm without being too subtle — you want readers to get the joke — and without trying too hard. And of course, there is a concern that readers might misinterpret your sarcasm or take a joke the wrong way.
We’ll dive into these issues and more as we walk through the dos and don’ts of how to write sarcasm that hits all the right notes. Buckle up: we’re sure reading these tips will be the highlight of your day.
(And yes, that was sarcasm.)
What to do
Use emoticons and grammar to convey sarcasm. Text accompanied by a winking emoticon or ellipses can convey a more sarcastic tone, according to a study from the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. The researchers found that if your message is ambiguous, a winking-face emoji is a good way to denote sarcasm. For real-world examples, look to brands like Tesco Mobile on social media. The U.K. company has a reputation for tweeting witty comebacks that are peppered with emojis.
Stay true to your brand voice. Sarcasm is a great fit for companies that already speak in a conversational, sassy tone on social media and other channels. If you usually write in a friendly, helpful tone, sharing a post that’s biting and dry might be jarring for your readers, and it might appear at odds with your brand identity.
Anticipate a backlash, just to be safe. Chances are, there won’t be any backlash to blog posts that feature the occasional sarcastic joke. But sometimes, jokes can be misconstrued, and you run the risk of upsetting your readers or customers. So, create a contingency plan to respond quickly to criticism before things get out of hand.
What not to do
Assume everyone shares your sense of humor. It can be difficult to pick up on sarcasm in writing, even among close friends, according to the Association for Psychological Science. So, even if you’re writing for a small, close-knit audience, remember that it’s tougher to detect a dry sense of humor in a blog post than it is in person. If it’s not clear that you’re joking, edit for clarity, or skip the joke altogether.
Be too negative. There’s a fine line between good-natured ribbing and cruelty. Be careful with your words to avoid being unnecessarily nasty — it’s a serious turn-off for readers.
Overdo it. Yeah, we get it. You’re hilarious. Every blog post you write is a masterpiece, and you’re the funniest person alive. 🙄 The takeaway: if every sentence you write is dripping with sarcasm, it’s overkill.
Tapping into your sarcastic side
Now, go have fun experimenting with sarcasm! Don’t be afraid to show some personality while still remaining true to your brand voice.
As long as you take care to stay playful and avoid anything mean-spirited, a bit of sarcasm can go a long way in endearing you to your readers and, hopefully, growing your readership.