Comedian Craigery Morgan became an overnight social media success after posting his video “Surprise Party” on YouTube. With no intention of it going viral, Morgan watched as “Surprise Party” shot to 5.5 million page views. Now, Morgan is hoping that his online fame one day leads to a spot on Saturday Night Live. The Orlando-based comedian recently shared his advice on building an online following with production editor Tara Fuller. A condensed and edited version of the interview is below.
Q: You originally posted your videos on YouTube to simply share with your friends. Did you have any idea (or secret hope) that they would go viral?
A: I always dreamed that they would. Growing up I always had a creative outlet, whether theater or our family camcorder. Throughout college, Facebook and YouTube became my outlet. I would always post videos when I was bored or during a study break just to make my friends laugh. Before "Surprise Party” went crazy, one of my other videos hit 1,000 views and I was ecstatic, so you can imagine how excited I am that Surprise Party is at 5.5 million!
Q: Once the video became popular, what did you additionally do to amplify them?
A: My friend Michael Vacirca, a software engineer, helped me to create a social media “base”: a website, Twitter, Tumblr and a Facebook fan page. He then integrated them all together [so] that that the posts would line up together. I then posted the links under my videos and the e-mails and messages and requests starting coming in. Just handling my e-mail alone felt like a full-time job.
Q: At this point, did you already have a large fan base, or did your following increase in stride with the popularity of your videos?
A: My “fans” at first were just my friends. But after surprise party, the rate of increase was staggering. Within two months the combined “fan” base from the social media sites exceeded 100,000.
Q: Why do you think “Surprise Party,” as opposed to your other videos, got picked up?
A: I honestly couldn’t tell you. My friend posted it on his Facebook the night I uploaded it, and he has quite a large amount of Facebook friends, so I’m guessing that had a large impact. And I always get the question “Did you do it shirtless on purpose to get more views?” To which I answer of course not! Its Florida, it’s warm, and I’m at home. I didn’t think anything of it.
Q: Now that you're a hit, what strategy do you use to share and amplify your videos?
A: Before I post a video, I like to give a little hint about what the next one will be about. For instance, I posted one on Christmas day. It was a parody of Food Network’s Sandra Lee, and a few days before I tweeted “Looking forward to a Semi-Homemade Christmas... :)” (the name of her show is Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee). But I just usually just post them here and there.
Q: Every aspiring actor/comedian/model's dream is to get discovered (which, in a sense, you already have). How do you plan to increase your following and get attention from agents and the like?
A: Well, I am now with a management company. But aside from that, I plan to just keep doing what I’m doing, and that is making people laugh and entertaining.
Q: I like how you incorporated new video features and extra footage in “Ta-ia: Destiny's Lost Child.” In terms of videos, what do you think is more important: the actual content, or the presentation of it?
A: I would have to say both are very important. You obviously must have funny content or a great story or theme of the video. But in edition, the way in which you present it is also key. I learned during my days in high school and TV production that editing is [a] very, very important party of my comedy. The editing allows me to control a lot of the comedic timing of the videos and thus produces a funnier clip. (And I hope people don’t take that as a jab toward Beyonce! I’m actually a HUGE fan.)