How your brand can decide whether or not to do an April fool story

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

April Fool’s Day can be a great occasion for brands to share stories – as part of their content strategy – that are outrageous, fun, and, well, an April fool.

But they’re also dangers with them. In 2020, April fools jokes would’ve seemed rather tone-deaf with the COVID-19 pandemic just starting to ramp up and society locking down. In 2022, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine happening it’s likely another year where it’s better to skip them. In other years, it might be okay to consider.

I’ve done a number of April fool campaigns:

Would an April Fool’s joke align with the brand?

This is a question for each brand to consider and think about it.

Many brands likely can share something fun, but if you see your brand as stiff or highly traditional you might already see this piece as a barrier.

But it’s possible to work through the barrier by talking about the potential stories that can be shared and you can even see how excited team members get about a story just by talking about it.

In your topical area, what pain points could you use as an April Fool story?

Pain points grab the audience’s attention. So do positive surprises. A few years ago, I texted my mother and sister – who live in Germany:

“About to land from Newark at Düsseldorf Airport. I’ll grab a cab and see you soon. Love you.”

A flight from Newark was about to arrive so if they were to look it up there was a bit of reality to my story.

So that was a pleasant surprise and then, of course, it was followed by disappointment because I wasn’t anywhere near them. We can do the same in our April Fool’s Day stories.

Google used to do them and while they were often outrageous they also often would be cool products.

The same can apply to brands: What’s something that consumers might enjoy, but that isn’t practical after all. 

What’s the point?

Finally, my favorite piece of debate: Why? What’s the point? Some people make this a race to who can come up with the most excuses. Don’t. Be deliberate about content instead with the goal being that we will publish something interesting and engaging.

The point is to determine why our audience would care and how it can help us stand out – without hurting our brand.

Those are the tips that I would use in most years when you want to decide whether or not to do an April fool. But some years, with the world situation it’s just better not to do one.

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