April Fool’s Day is a fantastic event for Content Marketing as it provides a platform for a certain humour and creativity that may not normally accommodate your brands image or tone.

April Fools’ Day Fun

Deep, rich content can be offset by whimsical humour as April Fools’ Day beckons and there are many content marketing creatives that bring a twinkle to the eye at this time.

Over the years there have been many businesses that have used this day well to let their target audience see their lighter side and bring awareness to potential customers who may not have them on their radar as yet.

So how does this happen?

April Fool!

April Fool!

Some Pranks go Viral: If your April Fools’ Day idea catches the attention of the audience enough for them to share and engage then the chances are that it will go viral. This means that the extended reach allows for users outside of your normal brand community to see what you as a company can offer.

Some Pranks attract Media Attention: The media love reporting on the content marketing strategies that everyone is talking about online. The media shift to capture their digital audience has meant that they have real time reporting scope to piggyback on brand marketing strategies that are gaining attention and report them on their websites.

The fact that these items are already popular online mean that they know the content substance will be popular and drive traffic to their own site. Many ‘news’ websites have been established especially for this purpose and the more traditional print media have recognised this and incorporated it into their online strategy. With a solid readership base, it means that your content gets shared to a wider audience.

Some Pranks Drive Traffic to your Website: An increase in backlinks to your site will drive more traffic there and also assist in your SEO strategy. Sites like Reddit and Tumblr are great for providing backlinks while social media platforms create an opportunity for your gag to be shared. When used well, both options will drive increased traffic to your site.

From RickRoll to LinkedIn for Cats, brands on the internet have been providing smiles, laughs and incredulity on April Fools’ Day. Here are a few that have caught the eye since 2008.

April Fool’s Day 2008

YouTube has the ideal platform for Aprils Fools’ Day jokes as the versatility of the rich content produced provides scope for so much to happen, however there’s nothing like a bit of the old Rick Astley and YouTube agreed as they used his deep vocal tone as the basis for their inaugural fool in 2008.

Simple yet effective, they utilised the growing trend of ‘being rickrolled’ which was a bait and switch foil that started in 2007 where prominent hyperlinks for a relevant topic, when clicked, instead brought you to a video of the hypnotic dance moves of Astley, singing his 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up.

YouTube didn’t have to get too creative with content here. They just jumped on the RickRolled band wagon and hyperlinked their entire front page featured videos that day to the Astley video. This resulted in a viral spread, taken on by other online outlets, that saw the song being voted to be played at the New York Mets Game and Astley being featured RickRolling in that years Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

The utilisation of existing content that had begun to gain traction in a simple, yet effective way was a fantastic start to YouTube’s April Fools’ Day journey.

April Fools’ Day 2009

2009 saw The Guardian announce that it would become the first newspaper to be published exclusively via Twitter. A dynamic move that integrated with the stirring interest in new media technology and something that in reality could potentially fool people in 2015!

The Guardian Goes Twitter

The Guardian Goes Twitter

The newspaper decreed that they would tailor all future content to fit the format of Twitter’s 140 characters and would undertake a gigantic project to rewrite the whole of their archive that dated back to 1821.

They detailed that this would see stories of the past reported like:

“1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!”;
“OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see tinyurl.com/b5x6e for more”;
and “JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?”

The paper also announced a new comment platform launched in conjunction with Twitter that would enable members to comment on liberal platforms on the web. It was a tool developed with WordPress and, its name was …. GutterPress.

The content marketing idea did so well it even made it into the Practical Jokers Handbook!

April Fools’ Day 2010

2010 saw YouTube promote text only video, Google change its name to Topeka after the town that changed ITS name to Google and everyone becoming an admin on the ever popular; Reddit.

Broadband Ferrets for April  Fool's Day

Broadband Ferrets for April Fool’s Day

The funniest one though was Virgin Media’s revelation of its secret ingredient for broadband speed. Ferrets! Animals garner attention on the internet (usually cats – see LinkedIn below) and as well as creating a good story using diverse circumstances the opportunity was there to create fantastic visual images that could be easily shared.

These jokes only have the impact they have due to the real time nature of online where the integration of text, video and engagement opportunity  just served to generate more traffic to brand sites as people thrived on the curiosity of these changes.

April Fools’ Day 2011

Sometimes the joke can fit the personality of the brand and Ryanair certainly had people thinking twice in 2011 when it announced that, due to the results of a survey, they were offering future child free flights. The press release quoted their Head of Communications, Stephen McNamara, as saying:

“When it comes to children we all love our own but would clearly prefer to avoid other people’s little monsters when travelling. While half our passengers would like us to divide our cabins up into ‘adult’ and ‘family’ areas it is not operationally possible due to our free seating policy, with optional priority boarding”

This joke was most certainly used to cause a reaction and it also preyed on the subliminal guilt that we do sometimes get frustrated by children on flights. The fact that they released the statement the day before April Fools also added to the slight uncertainty as to whether it was actually an April Fool. No matter; the result got them reported on influential media sites around the globe.

The content marketing ideas appear to either work well when either closely associated with the brand product, yet tweaked in an entertaining way that may seem …just plausible or, so diverse that it’s incredible, just like the correlation with ferrets and broadband speed.

April Fools’ Day 2012

Skype for String

Skype for String

Skype stayed within the realm of communication in 2012 yet went back to the industry roots by producing Skype for String: A human way to talk without the use of a computer or mobile device.

Lynx kept its sense of smell yet provided a unique way of maintaining an attractive odour by the creation of an app to let you spray directly from your phone.

The year also saw the launch of Virgin Volcanic and the announcement that Twitter would shrink its tweets to 133 characters.

Kittens rule though and Kodak jumped on their massive internet popularity by announcing a tech breakthrough of being able to print live kittens on demand.

Kodak Kittens

Kodak Kittens

It was a great use of popular imagery as well as a viral opportunity for the idea to be shared online.

April Fools’ Day 2013

Hubspot harnessed the growing curiosity of Google Glass in 2013 with their ultimate lead generation gadget; Sprocketvision.

The video brought the Hubspot advocates out in force that generated positive engagement for the brand and congratulated them on their spoof innovativeness.

YouTube also used self-deprecation by focusing on the many viewers that don’t watch videos the whole way through and, more dramatically announced that it was going to shut down for the next ten years when they have sifted through and picked the best video of all time.

Twitter launched a two tier system, with and without the vowels in tweets and Google brought out the fantastic Google Nose; the new Scentsation in Search! The resulting video garnered just under 3 million views.

April Fools’ Day 2014

Last year saw great use of video as a creative for the brand April Fool’s Day gags. One such video was AirBnB who introduced their new concept of renting office desks by the hour.

In today’s world, this could actually be a plausible thing, just take a look at Setting.

Sony decided they could power your gadgets through the use of Power food and, wait for it, we are back with the kittens.

LinkedIn introduced a new concept in online connections; the Cats You May Know (CYMK) pawfessional network for cats of all ages. Cats, connections and engagements – it’s all part of the pawfect content marketing strategy!

Cats You May Know

Cats You May Know

I would anchor the video but, you never know, it might be RickRolled (of which the video has just under 112 million views by the way.)

What connects these great April Fools’ Day Marketing Ideas?

Fun, Humour, Creative, Personable!

The ideas and their execution are human. They are presented in a visual, entertaining manner and the content substance is either:

  • So close to the truth it might be plausible and can get you thinking
  • So extreme that you have to laugh at the absurdity

Yet the ideas generate thought and use the integration of rich content with twists that engage and attract virility.

Think about YOUR brand and the simple ways you can ustilise the human element and fill it with fun with an idea that will resonate with your potential audience.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, just put yourself in your audiences shoes and think about what they will find as fun.

Once you have agreed an executed on your creative, make sure you link back to great Call to Actions on your landing pages so you can increase conversion rates for leads and sales.

So for April Fools’ Day here at Content Plan; I am going to spend ten hours a day online, Greg is going to source more wacky T-Shirts and we are all going to spend five hours a day messing with the funny disguises on Google Hangouts. Uh, hold on a minute …. That’s not a joke.

wacky tshirt

Oh Greg!

What are your favourite April Fools’ Day gags? Let us know!