There’s been a lot of buzz this week about President Barack Obama’s appearance on Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.” It was a chance for the President to depict himself in a new light — we see our politicians almost exclusively in formal, buttoned-up atmospheres, but he got a chance to try his hand at parody. For the most part, it seems that people have responded positively to the almost shockingly dry humor Obama and Galifianakis use in the six-and-half-minute video.

If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out below:

There was another effect the video had beyond a new topic for the water cooler. After the President’s appearance in the comedy bit, which racked up 11 million views almost overnight, traffic for (the website for obtaining coverage through the Affordable Care Act) surged by nearly 40 percent.

This wasn’t just a coincidence. In fact, it was a calculated public relations “gamble” by the White House to engage young people and encourage them to sign up for insurance coverage under the ACA. The President’s team, just like many of today’s most savvy online marketers, understood one undeniable fact of today’s marketing climate: humor sells, and it sells a lot.

In a digital world dominated by informal conversations on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, users are more likely to share content that makes them laugh. There are several reasons for this:

  • Millions of people go online for leisure. Although more business than ever is conducted online, the majority of time spent browsing the web is still just for fun. People want to laugh and be entertained during their “fun” time, so they’ll be more likely to watch an online video if they know it’s going to make them chuckle.
  • Humor makes ads more memorable. Think back to this year’s Super Bowl. Which advertisements stick out in your mind? They are probably the spots that made you laugh. Advertisers work to create hilarious moments viewers will remember long after they’ve watched a video. Good comedy is memorable.
  • People want to make others laugh. If you see something funny, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to show it to your friends so they can share in the joke. Content marketers know to capitalize on this communal nature of humor — which is what the President did in the Funny or Die video.

When done well, humor can be a powerful tool in online marketing. Consider ways you can implement some fun into your own content marketing plans. There’s a good chance that it will help you to create higher levels of engagement with your target audience.

Tim Backes is a senior editor with ProPRcopy, one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality copywriting services