From MIW Podcast: The Case for Getting Weird on Social Media, Ft. Ryann Marlar

by | Nov 3, 2021 | Podcast

This week, we’d like to share with you an episode from Stratos’ Marketing in the Wild Podcast. In this episode, Julia and Ryann talk about the case for getting weird on social media, inspired by a HootSuite article. We hope you enjoy this episode which can be found anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts. Be sure subscribe to Marketing in the Wild Podcast so you can tune in to new episodes every week!

Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: Welcome back, everybody, to our newest episode of Marketing in the Wild. Today, I have the pleasure to introduce you to Ryann, who has been my sidekick basically since the beginning, like the OG, and she is our senior content coordinator. So Ryann, why don’t you introduce yourself? Tell us where you live and then just tell us something fun about you. 

Ryann: Alright! My name is Ryann. I currently reside in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. So a little suburb outside of Madison, and a fun fact about me is that I used to dance for an arena football team. So I was a professional cheerleader in a past life. 

Julia: That’s awesome. She also has two Frenchies who are adorable. That’s what I thought you were going to talk about.

Ryann: Oh, I mean, but that’s an always, that’s a given. They’re flanking me right now in the recording, napping. So please, anyone listening, know that you may hear snorts at any time. 

Julia: They sound like little dinosaurs. So if you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear the dinosaurs in the background. So, today I brought Ryann on. Ryann’s been in charge of our social media for the past three years, like both ours and a lot of our clients and so she’s one of our social media content coordinators and is an expert. 

And we found this article by HootSuite that’s called “The Case for Letting Your Social Media Managers Get Weird.” And we loved it! We read it all, like our whole team read it. And it’s something that we’re still talking about because they make just like a really good case for allowing social media to get weird in order to grow and attract followers.

So Ryann and I are just going to talk about that, where you’ve got some examples that we’ve created that are really fun, and we’re hoping that by the end of this podcast, one, we’ll have also reiterated the case that HootSuite made, but also that you might leave encouraged to maybe bend a few of your own social media boundaries in a way that you feel comfortable, but that might create like more of a human centric brand.

So Ryann, tell me your initial thoughts when you read through this article. 

Ryann: My initial thoughts are, I love this. I am someone who in my non-social media life, makes terrible dog mom jokes and thinks I’m very punny, maybe a little zany. So the fact that HootSuite agrees that you can let that bleed into your social media is something that I am 100% onboard.

Julia: And I know that we, I would say like, because I’ve watched you do your work and because I’ve also done it, oftentimes the clients where we can get a little weird are more fun than the clients who have more of what I would call like stale or just run of the mill content. Would you feel like that’s fair?

Ryann: Yes. I definitely agree. That doesn’t mean that a more buttoned up or corporate brand can’t be a little goofy, it just makes it a little bit harder to pull that material. 

Julia: For sure. So like, what do you think getting weird could look like for some of these brands or just brands in general? 

Ryann: Yeah, brands in general is, you know, what is something that is still on brand but not off-putting? Maybe adding a little bit of sarcasm, a little bit of pun, a little bit of tweak, but nothing that would maybe seem too offensive or off-brand. A great example, I would think, is something that we did with one of our clients. Their brand is Truly Keto and they are a keto ice cream company. Both men are really fun and love being goofy and we wanted to bring that into their brand.

So I feel like a perfect example for them is, you know, we had a post that was, “So you think we’re sweet, it’s natural!” And yes, I mean, that’s very like wah, wah, a little bit of dad-jokey humor. But we were able to back that up with something that’s real and true to their brand, that they are natural and non, you know, like high-fructose corn syrup, things like that to sweeten their brand. So it’s making light of something that is real and authentic to their brand. 

Julia: For sure. Totally. And it’s almost like if that’s on the graphic, it’s eye-catching, and then like the caption can follow that up with something that’s maybe a little bit more serious, a little bit more true, but it’s also like informational.

Ryann: Well, because every good joke, stand up comedian, sit-com,social media post has a little truth to it. Right? 

Julia: Totally, totally. And I think that’s like part of the goal, is to also have that truth, but also catch people’s attention. And that’s like the goal of social media, because then people can relate to that. It also can become shareable content, too. 

The article that we read had a bunch of examples. Some of them felt more appropriate than others. And so there’s always that line, but that’s where you have to kind of know your audience, right? 

Ryann: Yes. I mean, I love a sassy Wendy’s post, love a sassy Wendy’s tweet, and they had some really great examples about that specifically. About on national roast day, #nationalroastday, where they were roasting other companies. And that was because other companies’ Twitter accounts were like, “Please roast us! Like, please do me, do me next!” Which I just loved so much, which again, got other brands looped into that, where they got attention as well. So it was mutually beneficial.

Julia: Totally. Totally. And I think that that’s where it creates a conversation between brands, but also that like the average consumer can participate in. So I wonder, in the work that you do, how would you say that we can get weird, but still maintain a voice? Like we have some clients who are very professional, that humor might feel a little bit dissonant. But any ideas on how to get weird while still maintaining your voice?

Ryann: Yeah! So I think the first one we already talked about a little bit is staying truthful. You don’t want to tell a lie, but you can amplify something that your brand does 

Julia: For sure.

Ryann: I think that’s a great example. And then inviting the audience to be a part of it, you know, by asking maybe a funny poll question. You know, some, a brand that I know in love had this big deal about tavern-cut vs pie-cut pizza and what did they prefer? And people went wild about it. Like, and it’s just a debate about pizza slices! It’s not more complicated than that. And it’s something that was brand adjacent cause it was something they were using in their product, but nothing that people were going to actually fight over or come to blows. 

Julia: Totally. And I think that getting weird might look different for different brands. 

Ryann: Like a plumber could do like a bathroom joke. With a plumber, maybe pushing the envelope, like a little too much.

Julia: Right. Or like, depending on who the plumber is and what their sense of humor is, maybe it would be perfect for them, too. So I think, yeah, it’s kind of fun because you can be flexible and I feel like this is what’s hard about even this episode. There’s no hard lines. It’s just experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn’t work and what your audience is going to respond to.

Ryann: And being okay with being okay with exploring and being okay with not getting it perfect. 

Julia: Yeah. Cause that was the other thing that I was thinking about while I was reading this article. Like how could this backfire? Cause it could backfire if you…like I think it could backfire, do you?

Ryann: Yes, I think so. I think if you try to push the envelope too much, where you lose the authenticity of your brand, you know, the example that they gave, you know, Skittles has done “Taste the rainbow” since the nineties. And there’s been some really weird taste the rainbow commercials, you know, posts on social media and things like that, but nothing that was going to offend someone in a way that they wouldn’t be able to pull them back in. 

Julia: Yeah. Totally. And there are major companies that sometimes have to apologize, too. And I think that that’s also okay. Like we have to be able to be comfortable with experimenting and then if we realize that we have crossed the line, we have to also be okay with apologizing. And I think that that’s one way that we can feel a little bit safer when it comes to experimenting. 

Ryann: I agree. 

Julia: Do you think there are brands that could be a better match for the concept than others? 

Ryann: Yeah. Yes I do. A brand that comes to mind is Recess. They are a drink that deals more with like, CBD drinks, and they’re very irreverent and silly because they’re a CBD drink. Like it isn’t life or death when it comes to that brand. And so I feel like, when the stakes aren’t very high, it’s a little bit easier to be a little goofy, to be a little wild, to be a little irreverent or weird. 

Julia: I think also like, depending on your audience, like if you know, what kind of audience you have, you can be a little bit more irreverent also, or like a little bit more pushing-the-line because you can…yeah, I think that’s another way like that you can do it. I also think about products like Tushy. 

Ryann: Yeah, I love a Tushy ad! I’m so glad you brought it up. 

Julia: Some of their, some of theirs I’m like, oh my gosh, I cannot believe this is online. Cause it feels a little bit offensive to me, but to like other people it’s not going to. 

Ryann: But I love that they frame it as like, that’s their intern, doing it. 

Julia: Right. And for those of you who don’t know, do you want to tell them what Tushy is? 

Ryann: It’s a modern bidet or a bidet for millennials. And I accidentally…more power to you if you do use it, if you don’t want to use it, like this is not a Tushy ad. But I, for some reason, kept getting the ads and just, they were so…I love them so much. We will have to in our show notes, make sure we give some of our favorite ones that we loved, because they really, when you’re being weird, you can also jump on trends a little bit faster and they do such a great job doing that. 

Julia: For sure. And I think, well, definitely like a whole bunch of these, because I think that that’s one way to even start flexing your, if we’re going to call it a weird muscle, like if you start flexing it because you can start realizing like, “Hey, these are some companies that are okay with getting weird and I’m okay with this and I’m more uncomfortable with this” because then you can start finding like your own boundaries of like what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. So I think that’s like another really good way. 

So one of the things that I have thought about a lot, and I’ve been reading this book called The Marketing Rebellion and he talks about how the most human company wins. And this is where I just feel like getting weird is more human, in a way, because then you’re being honest, you’re being, cause we still have that truth element to it. Like we’re not lying or making fun of things that aren’t true. 

But in real life, we have humor. Like we’re not stale people. And so when you can put that onto social media, it becomes more of a conversation that you’re inviting people in and it creates like this more human element. Any thoughts on that? 

Ryann: Yes. Just got lost at first. 

Julia: It’s okay, I just keep on slaying questions at you!

Ryann: That’s okay, that’s okay! I mean, when we think about social media, we say that that’s the introduction to your brand. It’s the biggest icebreaker. 

Julia: Totally. 

Ryann: So why not use a little bit of humor, a little bit of weirdness to break the ice, to break the tension, to introduce your brand? Like social media is the perfect place for that. So I fully agree with that being, or having that humor makes you more human. 

Julia: Yeah. Cause nobody in real life sounds like a robot. And so like if your social media presence feels very formal and robotic, like there’s a place for that. Like you want your doctor to sound like a professional. You want your lawyer to sound like a professional. Obviously, there’s a place for that, but I think that when brands have the room, they should take that room to get a little bit weird. And maybe, and I do wonder, like, some people might be like, “Getting weird? Like I don’t want to do that.” 

Ryann: Cause weird, you know, I look at the definition of “weird.” I always do that, when I look at something, as someone who is a content coordinator, I constantly look at words, look at the synonyms. Like the thesaurus is my best friend. And when you look at the definition of “weird,” I’m totally going to do it like right now as we’re talking, because I want to see. Also side note, I love that when I type weird into Google, it says Weird Al Yankovic. We’ll get to that in a second.  I feel like there’s people on our podcast that may or may not even know who that is.

Julia: I’m sure enough people will appreciate your random facts about Weird Al. 

Ryann: True, true, true. So, you know, “weird” can be uncanny. It can be zany, but it can also be eerie or unnatural. And so when people think weird, they may get a little nervous and self-conscious about it, but it can also be really fun. 

Julia: It could be humor. Like it could be, like what you said, like puns, like there’s so many ways…

Ryann: Zany is my favorite. I love something that’s a little goofy. 

Julia: Yeah, exactly. So tell us about Weird Al. 

Ryann: Right. So as someone who was born in the eighties and who loves, you know, play on words and, and you know, things that are all goofy, Weird Al Yankovic was someone who would take songs, I’m sure he still does it. And he would just tweak them just enough to make them silly. Like for instance, Gangster’s Paradise. Ooh. I jumped decades. In the nineties, he did their…Coolio, for all you young’uns out there, did a song called the Gangster’s Paradise and Weird Al Yankovic did one called the Amish Paradise. 

Julia: Oh, yes. 

Ryann: Right, which was all about Amish life, which was like, you know, if there was an opposite day in between Gangster’s Paradise and Amish Paradise…or for instance, Madonna’s Like a Virgin, and he did Like a Surgeon. Michael Jackson’s Beat It and Eat It. Like, yes, he did some quick word associations or rhymings, or just kicks like that, but it was recognizable enough that you were like, oh, that’s familiar enough! And then, oh, that’s really funny! 

I mean, if you were a Weird Al fan. Not everyone likes curly hair and accordions, I know it’s not for everyone. 

Julia: Totally. And I think that’s really like getting weird on social media is not for everyone, but if we use Weird Al as our guru on getting weird, we are literally taking something, like Ryann said, like something that is true, a fact, and we’re just changing it up a little bit to make it funny, to make it goofy, et cetera, to add some humor to it to catch people’s attention. Because Weird Al caught people’s attention. Whether they liked it or not, he caught people’s attention! And so we’ll put Ryann’s favorite weird Al song in the show notes… 

Ryann: You make it sound like I was a huge fan! I have to say I was not, but I did watch a lot of MTV as a kid. But if we’re talking about silly, goofy zany songs, or people that do that, I am a huge Flight of the Conchords fan.

Julia: Ooh, I haven’t heard that name in a really long time.

Ryann: I saw them. I’ve seen them in concert twice.

Julia: Well, there you go. So, if we’re going to wrap this up and we were kind of like, we’ve been all over the map here, and this is how my and Ryann’s conversations go all the time. So you basically had an insight into the last three years of us working together. But I think if we were to wrap it up and create like some, maybe like bullet points for people who are like, “Yes, I’m willing to try it,” what would be your top three tips?

Ryann: Be yourself. It’s just a little tweak. Tell the truth. Try it out, specifically, in social media, try it out in Stories. 

Julia: Yeah! Stories would be a great place to put it because it’s only there for 24 hours. 

Ryann: It’s there and it’s gone! 

Julia: Yeah. And then you get to test it out and if it doesn’t land well, you get to try it again.

I would also add like, if it backfires, it’s okay! You practice, you try something new. If you need to apologize, apologize. But most likely, people will forget it. And you may think that you sounded dumb, but people will not remember that. So, any other things? 

Ryann: You know, something I think that the Hootsuite article had, it had this really fun infographic. That was the mild to wild scale and how they kind of searched for their material. And I think that would be a great resource for people to look at and like what’s their wild to mild scale? Because I think that’s going to be different for every business. 

Julia: Absolutely. Like are people who work with like, yeah, our lawyers are going to have way different wild to mild skills than Truly Keto, who is an ice cream company. So, all that to say, Ryann and I are big proponents on getting weird. It makes it more fun. If you have a social media manager who is managing your content, give them a little bit of latitude to try some of these things out. It’s going to make their life way better and it’ll probably make your content perform better too, because you’re relating to people as a human instead of a robot. So any last words, Ryann?

Ryann: Send us anything that you think is zany or weird. We want to see your favorite social media posts. Or goofy. 

Julia: Totally. Send us your weird content. We’ll love it and we will give it hearts and likes. So anyway, thanks everybody for joining us. Thanks Ryann for joining us. I really appreciate you. 

Ryann: Thank you so much, it was fun!

In this episode…

HootSuite’s Article: The Case for Letting Your Social Media Managers Get Weird

Weird Al’s Like a Surgeon:

Weird Al’s Eat It: