I’ve been a Social Media Manager officially for just over two years, and I’ve been a stand-up comedian for over two decades. Stand-up comedy has been affected by the advent of social media as much as any industry, maybe even more than most. I’ve built my audience, and probably occasionally lost some of my audience, through social media more than I have on stage, even though it’s what I do onstage that I’m presenting on social media.
When I first interviewed for the job of Social Media Manager, I presented myself as someone who’d managed their own social media across multiple platforms, and also as someone who could communicate well. I wanted to highlight that I was someone who made a living of grabbing people’s attention, holding it, and inspiring them to take action; whether that action is tipping their server, buying my book, or getting a ticket to come see my next show.
How to Implement Comedian Tactics Into Your Social Media Practices
I have been thinking about what I do in stand-up comedy that influences what I do as a Social Media Manager for a diverse roster of clients. Here are some examples of how to manage your social media like a comedian.
Let The Real World Inform Your Social Media Presence
Nowadays, live stand-up videos are seen by more people virtually than they are live. The fact that someone was watching live, and reacting makes it real, and gives it credibility. The sound of a crowd laughing is more powerful than any light-up “Laugh” sign will ever be.
If you have a graphic that has been shared on a billboard, rather than sharing that same graphic on social media consider sharing a picture of the billboard. This is a great way to show your brand out in the world. Likewise, a picture you take on your phone of you and a client, partner, or friend will have an easier time grabbing views and reactions than most posed, professional photographs. Reality is everything. I can put hours into writing, and working with our designers on creating an awesome post for you, but what I really want is pictures of your pets, your kids, and your smiling faces because that’s what stops people from scrolling on by.
Avoid Constantly Selling
Social media is about building community and connecting with people. You don’t have to force a call to action into your post about a colleague’s dog coming to visit the office. It’s okay to just say Happy Halloween, without drawing a clumsy connection between your product and your costume. (That said, when it’s natural and unforced, like if you sell toilet paper and you use your product to make a mummy costume, go for it.)
Yes, I want people to go watch my specials or come see me live, but my posts encouraging them to do so will work so much better if they’ve recently seen three other posts that made them laugh, or relate to me as a person. Three posts in a row, asking them to come see my new show will leave them scrolling right past my posts as they wait for this promotional blitz to end.
It’s Okay To Have A Niche
It’s okay to have a joke for only three people. You’d think that a joke that only makes a small percentage of my audience laugh would get cut from my set, but this isn’t always the case. It depends on how hard it makes them laugh. Occasionally, I’ll have a joke that requires my audience to know and care about some obscure band or movie. It’s okay if not everyone gets it, as long as it’s a quick bit and I move on to more universal material after. These bits help to build an audience of your own. People in fan communities are thrilled when the object of their geekdom gets some recognition. That small number of people are likely to feel uniquely connected to you (or your company).
Social media posting is cheap, so you can afford to occasionally reach out to small groups of your audience. For example, the former Social Media Manager for Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer (PBR) frequently mentioned his love of Ska music. Not everyone loves ska, not everyone even knows what ska is. But, this genre of music has a ridiculously devoted fan base, and the PBR Ska posts were shared, and reshared within this community, on message boards. The Social Media Manager was even invited onto ska-themed podcasts to discuss their love of the music and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
In stand-up, comedians go to open mic nights to try new material. Open mic nights are notoriously brutal but we still do them because we need to try out new jokes, develop our material, and get it practiced and polished as much as possible before we perform it at a paid gig where we’re billed as professional comedians.
Think of social media as your company’s open mic night. Being fun, quirky, and letting your guard down a bit can be a great place to find out what resonates with your audience and this can then inform how you handle paid advertising in the future.
You may choose to bring in someone to help manage your social media, someone like me. I’m not the right comedian for every gig. Occasionally I will find that I’m really mismatched to the audience, and there is a limit to how much I can adjust to meet them where they’re at.
As a social media manager, I am most effective at serving my clients when I am allowed to interject a bit of personality into their social media content. Our role as marketers is to understand the brand’s personality and to write in its tone and voice. All brands have a unique personality.
Overall, when managing social media, or putting together a stand-up comedy set, remember your audience, be yourself, and have fun so they can have fun with you.