Senior marketing manager at Cisco, Tim Washer, was on a SXSW panel recently titled precisely “Humanizing B2B Brands with Video and Comedy”.

This was its description:

Research shows that nearly 73% of people who read corporate blogs are in fact people. And one of the strongest connections we can make with another human is to make them laugh. We’ll share a few comedy lessons learned from freelancing on The Onion and Conan and show how those rules can be used to create corporate social media content to breaks through the clutter. We’ll share case studies on how humorous corporate videos earned headlines in the New York Times and inclusion on ComedyCentral.com and helped expand the online community. We’ll discuss simple, fun, low-budget approaches to transmedia storytelling, including web documentary series, for both consumer and B2B companies.

And while we don’t have a video or slides for that session, we found this older video from Tim where he seems to talk through the same points as the presentation above: using humor and humanizing your company through online video.

The write-up of the panel at SXSW by the folks over at OnlineVideo.net is really good and you should read it whole.

Here are the main points:

– since in B2B the product or service prices are often higher and the decision cycles far longer, these companies often feel like they need their message to be serious. But humorous videos can make the difference, getting the companies name into several press and blogs, which in turn can lead to future business opportunities.

“If you can get analysts and your press laughing, they’re a lot more open to taking that next phone call”

Tip 1: Enlist Your Employees

One way to humanize your company is to get your employees involved, telling their own stories. Don’t try to make these into marketing messages. The company blog can be a great place for guest spots where employees write entries or create slideshows about their passions. Keep entries simple and don’t use buzzwords. If the readers feel they’re being marketed to, they’ll tune out.

Tip 2: Keep Costs Down

If you approach your company with a costly online video proposal, there’s a strong chance you’ll be shot down. If you keep costs low, however, you can have the video shot, edited, and ready to preview to your execs before they know about it. For video projects, it’s easier to show corporate what you want to do than describe it. Hiring video students as interns, says Washer, is a great way to get affordable talent. Talk to a video professor at a local college and ask which students are natural storytellers.

Or use Wooshii perhaps? 😉

Tip 3: Keep Expectations Low

If you have to convince executives to support an online video project, they’re going to ask about the number of views you expect to get and may well have thoughts of going viral. Keep their expectations low. Talk about niche audiences and targeting the right people. Even videos that don’t get huge views can find success if the right people see them.

Tip 4: Make them Laugh

There are many reasons to use humor in your online videos, says Washer. For one, it puts the viewer in a good frame of mind, and marketing is all about creating a positive association with a brand. Humor also helps your video cut through the noise, and it puts a human face on your company.

Those are great tips, and must’ve been a great panel! And clearly Cisco knows what it’s doing and is betting heavy on online video over the next years.