When Conan O’Brien was ousted from hosting the Tonight Show to give Jay Leno his old job back, things were not looking so good for O’Brien’s late night career. Jimmy Fallon had already taken over O’Brien’s former gig hosting Late Night, and it seemed as though there was nowhere for him to go. To make matters worse, the arrangement stipulated that O’Brien was to not be funny on television for 9 months. For NBC, this clause would naturally ensure that Conan would not be a future threat to the Tonight Show in the event that he gets another hosting slot. After all, if a TV host is gone from TV for 9 months, he’ll be forgotten by the masses, right?
Unfortunately for NBC, their deal was based on an outdated media model in which the television experience begins and ends at the TV. The network did not consider social media and how it can not only sustain interest in a brand but actually grow it as well. During Conan’s 9 months away from television, he and his team (Team Coco) utilized the power of social media to rebrand into one of the most popular television and Internet personalities in America. There is a lot that we as marketers can learn from his phenomenal success and utilize in our own online marketing strategies as well.
Know Your Medium
Let’s not forget that media is plural for medium. So, when we are discussing social media we are referring to a collection of distinct forms of social interaction. Conan has really excelled at tailoring his posts for the social networks that they are a part of. For example, Conan released several YouTube videos during his hiatus from television. These videos were not directly promotional for any specific purpose other than entertaining his fans. Here’s one video from part of a Q&A series:
Similarly, Conan uses his Twitter account to regularly tweet jokes. Twitter’s 140 character limit requires brief jokes with a strong punch line, and Conan utilizes this to engage his fans. Here’s an example of a joke about the election:
Don’t Just Redirect: Continue the Experience
Conan airs at 11:00 pm EST on TBS. Naturally, all online efforts should be going towards directing viewers to watching this broadcast, right? Well, yes and no. It is important to keep your audience engaged, regardless of whether the interaction is explicitly targeted at getting them to use your product. Consider the following tweet from The Late Show with David Letterman:
Though this sparks interest in the upcoming episode, it does nothing to engage the audience in the setting that they are currently in (besides linking to a video preview). Compare this with a similar tweet from Conan:
By repurposing a monologue joke into a visual format that suits Twitter, people are able to enjoy the jokes from an episode in a completely new way. This also increases Conan’s reach because people now are ‘watching’ his tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos in addition to his television episodes, opening up more opportunities for advertising and brand awareness.
Know of any other celebrities that have excelled with social media for us to feature? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @Uberflip!