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Like all marketers concerned with brand sentiment, you want your brand to be liked by consumer audiences. But is your content marketing giving your brand a social media voice that’s too funny? Too serious? Too snarky or even too politically correct?

A new marketing survey sheds light on what online consumers actually want from today’s brands.

More Consumers Want Honesty

A new survey from Sprout Social says online consumers want brands to cool it with the snarky witticisms. Instead users today are impressed by a brand persona that feels more honest and trustworthy.

A big majority of more than 1,000 respondents, 86% are looking for honesty from a brand. Almost as many, 83% want a brand that’s friendly, too. This is not surprising in our current cultural climate, often characterized by divisive rhetoric or accusations of being “fake news.” In essence what consumers are saying here is that they’re looking for positive engagement with a trustworthy brand. Plus it doesn’t hurt if your brand also adds value to their online experience (78% are looking for brands that are helpful).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it light. A still-large margin of survey respondents like brands to be funny, 72%. Of course, how that humor comes across is key. It’s a very easy environment in which to offend your customers’ worldview or make light of something they take seriously. Therefore, it falls to brands to really know their audiences, so as stay in their good graces.

“Cool” Brands: Tread Very Carefully

A previous era of snarky, cool, trendy brand personas appears to be on the retreat. Less than half of consumers cared about a brand’s content marketing coming across as “trendy” at 43%, and still fewer (39%) enjoyed politically correct or (33%) snarky content.

Moreover, Sprout Social says 71% are completely turned off by content that hits them over the head with political messaging. And the largest margin of all, 88%, do not want brands to mock fans or produce content that is condescending to the audience.  

That said, there is a tiny sliver of these audiences that DO crave snark and politics. It’s up to brands to find out where their audience stands so as best to suit their needs.

Thumbs Up for Videos, Q&As, and Discussions

Beyond personality, the survey also gave new insight into the kinds of content marketing pieces audiences want right now. Video clips posted or linked to social media and brands responding to online questions were top of the list, with a tied approval of 83% each.

More than two-thirds of survey respondents were “cool” with brands joining relevant conversations on social media and even talking about timely events. Notably the latter group is twice the size of the small group that enjoyed politicking, the takeaway being that current events are fine, political proselytizing not so much. Another 58% were in favor of brands using GIFs and other internet memes to talk to their customers.

From there, there was a sharp decline in approval for brand social activities such as using slang and skewering your industry competitors. Again, a tiny portion thought this was fine, so know your audience.

Where to Reach Customers

The survey also touched on platforms, with Facebook at 83% being the clear winner. That’s no surprise with Facebook’s user base now reaching nearly 2 billion monthly active users. The stat offers strong confirmation for marketers that a plan for reaching brand audiences on social media has to include the Facebook platform.

YouTube (48%) was the next favorite platform for survey respondents, giving weight to the increasing importance of video content. Twitter was favored by 40%, and Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat platforms brought up the rear.


So, is your brand too funny? There may be 28% of consumers who say so, but they’re in the minority. So long as your brand doesn’t turn funny into mocking condescension or get too political, you should be good. Make sure you’re active on Facebook and consider increasing your participation in discussions and think about adding video content.

Have questions about your brand and social media content marketing? Call us at 313-338-9515 or email to learn how our full-service digital agency can help.