How to Master Social Media Like a Famous Comedian

Keeping customers loyal is no laughing matter, and few take social media more seriously than comedians. Here are five lessons learned.
August 07, 2012

Like small-business owners, comedians know that social media is practically mandatory in order to get ahead. However, comedians are owning the social-media space better than most small businesses. (For example, Louis C.K. went from stand-up artist to online entrepreneur, earning millions in the process.) So, what's their secret?

Every good comedian knows their audience, and caters to them, rather than trying to win over everyone. They understand that their comedic style is not for the masses, and that loyalty is often more valuable than numbers. Comedians focus on the audience that cares, by entertaining, engaging and providing fresh content so that the loyal fans come back for more.

Here are five lessons you can learn from successful comedians.

1. Humor sells. The fastest way to establish a relationship, build trust and get a customer to value your presence is to make them laugh.

Comedians are active thinkers. A skilled comedian is confident and aware of what his audience needs. He knows what the next joke in his routine will be—he doesn’t ask the audience. A brand should know what its customers need by studying how they think and how they react to different marketing approaches.

2. Cut to the chase. When it comes to building relationships and making sales, honesty is key. Comedians will cut to the chase and say what everyone else is thinking, especially when it’s a taboo topic.

People trust online recommendations, ratings and reviews—good and bad—because they’re from real people. It’s uncomfortable for customers to tell you what they don’t like about your product or business. If you recognize your own faults in a brand, it relieves the customer from awkwardness and prevents those who do like to complain from having the first say. Sounds crazy, but humans are imperfect—and humanizing your brand will ultimately drive sales.

3. Don’t be boring. Most comedians are very strategic about promoting themselves on social media. Many of their fans follow them for entertainment, not for links. Bigger comedians who have their own TV shows, like Stephen Colbert and Conan O’Brien, have separate Twitter accounts for their shows. Colbert's personal account is just shy of 4 million followers, while The Colbert Report has almost 278,000.

People want human interaction on social media. Think about what your customers find interesting by considering how you personally utilize social media. How many times have you felt compelled to engage with basic banner ads or mundane posts on your news feed? Keep them entertained, and you’ll keep them engaged.

4. Keep it fresh. So you’ve found something that works. That’s great! Just know that eventually—like any good joke—your content will get stale.

Don’t be a vanilla brand. Your social followers are your audience, so give them a good show. Take bold risks and experiment with what works and what doesn’t. The great thing about social media is that it’s very easy and requires few resources to switch it up.

You can keep the same tone and approach, as long as you understand your brand’s voice—is it observational? Satirical? Does it rely on a character? Once you’ve found the voice, you can play around with different content that represents it appropriately.

5. Cut the middle man. Comedians like Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari use social media to interact with fans directly. They understand that making it easier for fans to get what they want means more business.

Don’t make your customers jump through hoops just to make a purchase. Simplify the process and give them a way to interact with you directly.

Extra fees and unnecessary steps, like subscribing to a membership just to pay or forcing them to Like you on Facebook, are annoying and can easily alienate your fans. You wouldn’t force a person to take those extra steps in a store, don't do it online either.