If it seems like social media is something that is in a constant state of flux, that’s because it is. Changes in the social media world happen fast and it can be very difficult trying to keep up with where things are headed, let alone trying to figure out how these changes may impact your career as a comedians and what you’re doing to grow your fanbase.
To help you sort that out, I’d thought I’d share a few major shifts that I see happening right now and explain why and how they’re likely to affect comics. Here’s what you should be aware of…
1. There’s A War Brewing
Relatively speaking, the major social media players such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple have all played nice with each other over the past few years as they’ve all grown. But those days look like they’re rapidly coming to an end. Facebook’s decided to start blocking Instagram photos from appearing on Twitter, Apple booted Google’s Maps product from its iPhones, and Google’s desperately trying to turn Google Plus into a threat to Facebook.
These are just some early salvos in what promises to be an all-out war to see who can ultimately reign supreme when it comes to your social networking needs. And while it’s way too early to tell who’s ultimately going to win this smackdown – or if there can ever really be just one true winner – it’s clear that in many ways the big losers may be consumers who will likely start to see the integrations they’ve come to expect start to fade away as casualties of a tech battle between companies that no longer want to play nice with each other.
Why Comedians Should Care: I’ve often said that it’s dangerous to rely solely on a platform you don’t control such as Facebook for your online presence and the escalation of this war should serve as a reminder of those dangers. Facebook is far from invulnerable and that’s why it’s important to have your own website and email list which you will always control so that you can ensure you’ll be able to maintain the connections to your growing fanbase even if the initial platform you’re using to acquire them disappears – because it’s likely some of these platforms are going to vanish no matter how strong they look now.
Once upon a time it seemed like a pretty good idea to use MySpace as your website as opposed to building your own site, remember?
2. “Nobody” Uses Twitter, But Everybody In The TV Industry Thinks They Do
If you’re a comedian, you probably assume that Twitter has a huge audience and that just about as many people use it as use Facebook. Well, that’s not exactly right. In fact, it’s not even close – Twitter actually has less than half as many users as Facebook.
But one of the things that may lead you to think it’s bigger is that you see way more Twitter integration into television shows than you do Facebook at this point. There’s probably lots of reasons for that, but one of them is that the TV industry has clearly fallen in love with Twitter and believes that it’s a better fit for what they do than Facebook is.
Why Comedians Should Care: There’s a couple reasons why you want to be aware of this. First, every time you see a TV show promoting a hashtag (which seems to be constant now) or showcasing tweets on air, that’s essentially a free commercial for Twitter. And the more that happens, the more Twitter’s audience (and influence within the entertainment industry) grows. It’s helping Twitter grow rapidly and close that gap with Facebook.
It also helps explain why you see a lot more TV deals being given to comedians with notable Twitter followings as opposed to a big Facebook presence. The bottom line is that if you’re interested in a TV career, for the moment Twitter seems to matter a little more than Facebook does.
3. Hollywood Is Obsessed With Social Media, But Is Still Pretty Clueless About It
As somebody who’s worked in digital marketing in the entertainment industry for several years it’s been very interesting to see how things have evolved in the last couple years. It used to be that nobody in Hollywood thought that social media really mattered and you’d have to convince them otherwise. But now, we’re way past that.
Every studio, network, and industry executive not only believes that social media matters, but is obsessed with it. However, 99% of those same people have no clue how it really works or what to do with it. They just know that everything’s changing and they don’t want to be left behind.
Why Comedians Should Care: This is an odd moment in time that actually creates two situations comedians need to take into consideration. First, it means that if you’re ignoring social media you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage because you’re essentially ignoring what the entertainment industry’s decision makers think is going to be a crucial element of the business going forward.
And second, it means that because the industry is so hungry to exploit social media there’s an opportunity to catch their attention by using social media to do something unique. This is why you’re seeing so many people get deals based on their blogs or Twitter accounts as opposed to the traditional roads into the industry.
4. You No Longer Use The Press To Get An Audience, You Now Use Your Audience To Get Press
It used to be that one of the best ways to get attention for yourself was to get some publicity by courting the media and get them to write about you or feature you on their shows. But, as is explained brilliantly in this article, there’s been a huge shift in recent years and increasingly that’s become reversed. Nowadays, the media is looking to people that have an existing audience to help them promote their coverage of those people – not the other way around.
Why Comedians Should Care: This is yet another example of why you need to break from the idea that you can rely on other outlets to grow your audience for you and also shows yet another way you can benefit from the building of your own social media following. The days of being able to just concentrate on your comedy and figuring that your audience will just magically fall into place are over.
5. Funding For Projects Is Coming From Fans, Not Hollywood
There’s been plenty of talk in comedy circles about how people like Louis CK are selling their projects directly to their fans and cutting out the middle men, but what has been less talked about is the way relative unknown artists are funding their projects with the help of their fans. While studios and networks are becoming increasingly tight with their wallets, the importance of building an audience that can fan-fund your project is on the rise and becoming a norm.
As this article explains, 10% of the films that screened this year at the Sundance and Cannes film festival were crowd-funded. That’s a big number and represents a huge shift in how the business works.
Why Comedians Should Care: The rise of crowd funding and tools like Kickstarter will create huge opportunities for comedians who have built a strong connection to their fanbase and that can really best be done through social media. However, this trend has also come along in part because the traditional Hollywood financing machine is shrinking which means it’s also going to be tougher to get others to fund your projects.
Overall, the lesson is the same with all five of these recent social media developments – we’re living in a time of unprecedented opportunity for comedians…if you’re willing to put in the work to take advantage of it. And if you’re trying to rely on the old system to build your comedy career? The tides are rapidly turning against you.