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Ranking The 9 Most Valuable Social Platforms For Comedians

Social media can be overwhelming.

There seems to be a new “must-use” social platform created every day and the pressure to leverage them to attract fans and grow your career can quickly become frustrating.

But the reality is you don’t actually have to use any of these platforms and you certainly don’t need to use all of them. To help you sort out which ones are worth the effort, I’ve put together a breakdown of what I see as the top nine platforms in order of value to a comedian’s career.

While the exact order may vary a bit depending on your specific career goals, this is a general ranking that I think fits for most comics. Whether you’re just starting out or 20 years into the game, these are the places I’d recommend you put your time into – in order from most important to least important.

1. An Email List

Don’t be fooled by the hype around the latest and greatest social platforms – email is still king. It’s the single best way to ensure people who are connected to you will see something you want them to see.

As great as social networks are, the vast majority of your followers on them won’t actually see your posts – you’ll be lucky to reach more than 10% of your followers with any given post and in most cases you’ll only reach about 5%.

By comparison, roughly 50% of your email subscribers (or more depending on the quality of your list), will open and read your email blast. Even a bad email list will still likely get at least 20% of the subscribers to open your emails, which is still a huge improvement over what you get on social networks.

Email lists are also the most valuable social platform because they’re completely in your control – you don’t have to worry about companies like Facebook or Twitter suddenly changing the rules of who sees your content and you also don’t have to worry about users abandoning the platforms entirely, making your connection to your audience on them disappear (see: MySpace).

An email list is without a doubt the most powerful social connection you can build to your fanbase and even the social networks themselves know it.

Have you ever thought about why Twitter and Facebook send so many emails to their users? It’s because they know you’re more likely to see those notifications in your email inbox than on their own platforms.

Recommended Reading: How To Get More People To Join Your Mailing List

2. A Website

The second most valuable platform also may seem a little old school to you. Too many comics believe a Facebook page is good enough and having their own website is an outdated concept, but that’s wrong.

Just like an email list, having your own website is something that you can 100% control forever and it’s not subject to the whims of a company who can block you, delete you, or make things difficult for you with tweaks in their algorithm or a loss of their own user base.

Your own website is also a blank canvas that allows you to create whatever best suits your personal needs and how you want to present yourself. It’s much more flexible than having to fit what you do into the constraints of somebody else’s platform.

There’s a million different easy ways to create a website (WordPress, Tumblr, etc.) and there’s really no excuse at this point not to have one. Plus, a website will get you found in Google search (and help you control what people see of yours when they search for you) and will make you look like a professional.

Not having a website – even if it’s just a simple one – sends a clear message to the world that you’re not serious about your career.

Recommended Reading: How 5 Successful Comedians Used Their Website Before They Were Famous

 3. A Facebook Fan Page

Comics love Twitter, but the reality is that Facebook is a WAY bigger and more valuable platform for you.

Facebook has gotten so big that it practically is the Internet these days, and I’m sure you probably already have a Facebook account. But, if you don’t also have a Facebook fan page for yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

Having a fan page has several advantages including the ability to have an unlimited number of fans connect to you – regular profiles are capped at 5,000 friends, which may not seem like an issue now but will be if you ultimately have the success you want.

Most importantly, Facebook fan pages allow you to run Facebook ads to promote yourself and your content. Here’s a look at some of the amazing things that are possible with Facebook ads and how inexpensive they can be.

You can’t run Facebook ads without a fan page, and not having the ability to run Facebook ads is like taking the single most effective marketing tool out of your arsenal. It’s stupid.

Recommended Reading: 5 Free Ways To Get More People To See Your Facebook Posts

4. Twitter

Even though its value is below Facebook, Twitter can still be a valuable platform for comedians. Comedy content plays well on the platform and if you’ve got the ability to put funny stuff into the world in 140 characters or less, you can find some success and get noticed.

But, the real value in Twitter is often misunderstood. The way to get the most out of Twitter is not by using it as a broadcast medium or an always-on open mic, but rather to use it as a way to connect with other people.

The ability to follow and interact with anybody on the platform is powerful if used in a smart way and Twitter’s search functionality is one of the most overlooked and underused aspects of Twitter. You can use it to find people who are talking about the exact things you’re interested in and become a part of those conversations. Here’s some simple ways to get more out of Twitter that might make you think about the platform in a new way.

Recommended Reading: 5 Ways To Get More Out Of The Jokes You Post On Twitter

5. YouTube

If you’re creating videos, you should post those videos on YouTube (you should also upload those videos to Facebook’s native player as well by the way).

This is because YouTube is not only the biggest video hub on the Internet, but it’s also the second biggest search engine of any kind. Not uploading your videos to YouTube is the equivalent of telling Google that you don’t want to be found in their search results.

YouTube is the ultimate video platform, a place where you can get discovered, where you can build an audience, and where you can even monetize your work. People are building huge careers off the platform and it’s a must-use for anybody creating videos in my opinion.

Recommended Reading: Building A YouTube Audience

6. Vine

It’s appropriate that my sixth most valuable platform for comedians is a social network built on 6-second videos. Vine, which is owned by Twitter, has built a large user base and has a huge audience for funny content.

Comedy on Vine certainly has its own unique form and language, but if you can crack what works on the platform you can get discovered and build a following relatively quickly. There are also lots of relatively unknown comedians who have managed to monetize their work on Vine thanks to brands looking to reach audiences on the platform.

And the aesthetic of Vine is a lot more forgiving than YouTube, meaning that you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money on equipment or have a real professional look to your videos on the platform for them to work. Just shoot something funny with your phone and you should be fine.

Recommended Reading:5 Things You Can Learn From Vine Star King Bach

7. A Podcast

We’re still in the midst of a podcast boom – especially in the comedy world. At this point it may seem like every comedian has a podcast, but the truth is that the vast majority of them have barely any people listening to them.

However, there is still lots of potential value there for comics because the podcast audience continues to grow and there are still opportunities to grow an audience over time through a podcast.

The other hidden value of doing a podcast is that it can help improve your work as a comedian overall – it can help you work through new material, find your voice, or function as practice for future work in radio, writing, or hosting.

It’s not the same as stage time, but it is an opportunity to be on a mic and entertain people. It also can give you an excuse to interview and learn from other people, and if you’re smart enough to design your show in a way that it appeals to a specific niche audience that you’re trying to reach (as opposed to being just another inside baseball show featuring comics talking about comedy), it can help you attract and develop an audience that pays off in other ways down the road.

There’s definitely value in doing a podcast, but it’s important to remember that a podcast is a long term play and not a short term one. Whatever value you get from doing a podcast is likely to come years down the road and you have to be willing to put in the significant time and effort it takes to get there.

Recommended Reading: Stand Up Invades Podcasting

8. Instagram

Instagram is a great social platform and it’s growing very fast – it might surprise you to find out that it’s already bigger than Twitter.

There’s definitely value to reaching the Instagram audience and if you’re doing anything with your comedy that’s image-driven, I’d probable rank it a little higher for you.

But, for most comics, Instagram is significantly less valuable as a platform than the other options I’ve listed above. It’s just that what Instagram is about doesn’t really lend itself very well to what most comics are looking to put out into the world.

Also, as a promotional platform, it’s very limiting since you can’t incorporate links anywhere on the platform except for in your account bio. It can be helpful with the right kind of content and the ability to dip into certain hashtags and attract attention for your content that way can be useful, but overall at the moment it’s far from a must-use platform for comedians.

Recommended Reading: 4 Things You Can Learn From Social Media Stars

9. Snapchat

Snapchat is growing…fast. It’s already hugely popular with teenagers, is seeing lots of engagement from users, and its Stories feature enables you to string together content in a way you can’t on other platforms.

However, the platform still has a lot of issues that limit its value to comedians.

Since the content you post there is only available for 24 hours at most you lose the value of building a library of archived content, discovery on the platform is pretty terrible (you essentially have to know a person’s username to find them), you don’t get to see how many people are actually following you (only how many actually view a piece of content), and there’s no simple way for your fans to share your content with their friends.

So, at this point, Snapchat is far from a must-use platform for comics, but it’s growing so rapidly that it’s still worth being on this list and keeping an eye on as it evolves.

More Advice About Social Media…

I’ve got a lot more social media tips available to my VIP MEMBERS (join here for instant access) including How To Get More Influential Followers On Twitter and 7 Reasons The Stuff You Post On Social Media Should Also Be On Your Website among others.

How To Decide Where To Post Your Comedy Videos

You’ve finished producing your latest comedy masterpiece, but now what?

There’s a lot of options out there for uploading your video, but it can be confusing trying to figure out which platforms to use, whether you should upload it to multiple places, and how to give yourself the best shot of capitalizing on all the work you put into it.

To help point you in the right direction, I’ve put together a breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of several video platforms to help you figure out where to post your latest creations.

The First Thing You Need To Figure Out…

Before I get into the specifics of each platform, I want to stress that there is ultimately no right or wrong place to post your videos. Each platform has different things to offer and that’s why the first thing you’re going to want to do is figure out exactly what your goal is for the videos you create.

Are you trying to grow a fanbase and build a community around a series of videos you plan to produce? Are you trying to get exposure for yourself with a certain audience? Is it a video that’s designed to be shared? Is it topical or does it more evergreen? Are you trying to reach a general audience or is it more geared toward industry? Are you trying to get somebody to sponsor future videos? Are you hoping to monetize your video?

It’s also worth thinking about what action you want people to take once they see your video, assuming they like it. Is it more important to you that they share it or subscribe to your channel? Or join your email list? Hire you as a writer? Or an actor? Or to do standup?

There will obviously be a lot of overlap and it’s likely that your goals will include several of these things, but it’s worth considering what single goal is most important to you when it comes to the videos you post and use that to guide the decision you make about where to post the video.

Once you have a sense of what you’re trying to accomplish with the videos you create it will be much easier for you to figure out the right platforms to use for it. To help you do that, here’s an overview of the pros and cons of different platforms…

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Strengths:

YouTube is by far the biggest video platform in the world and it’s also the second largest search engine of any kind, only behind Google (which owns YouTube and therefore also prominently features YouTube videos in its search results).

This means that without a doubt YouTube allows you to reach the largest possible audience. To be honest, I think it would be pretty foolish not to have your videos on YouTube even if you decide to use other platforms as well. Opting not to have your videos on YouTube is the equivalent of telling Google to pretend that you don’t exist – and that’s obviously not a good idea.

YouTube’s enormous audience also means that you have the opportunity to get discovered on YouTube by new people through search results relating to the things you are doing in your videos. In order to maximize this opportunity you’ll want to pay close attention to titles, descriptions, and tags on your videos – that’s a much bigger conversation, but check out the YouTube creators playbook for a crash course in how to get the most out of YouTube.

In addition to YouTube’s reach, another major advantage of the platform is the sense of community that can develop around channels on the site. YouTube’s subscription tools, comments, and interactivity really lends itself to building (and growing) a fan community on the site.

That’s not easy to do, but it can happen and is crucial to success on the platform. There’s a reason just about every “YouTube star” built their fanbase on the back of serious community interaction – it’s a big part of success on the platform.

It’s also easier to monetize your work on YouTube than any other platform. Ultimately, you will need to generate views to make money, but you can easily do so thanks to YouTube’s ad partner program without ever having to go chase down your own sponsors.

Weaknesses:

In some ways YouTube’s biggest strength can also be its biggest weakness. With so many videos being uploaded to the site constantly, it can be difficult to get attention and easy for your stuff to get lost in the shuffle. There’s a lot of competition for eyeballs on the site and you’ve really got to work to stand out.

You also have to be willing to post content regularly and be patient – it takes time to build a following and it’s unlikely that you’re ever going to get featured by YouTube’s editors until after you’ve gained some traction. That means that often times what you’re doing to promote your YouTube video outside of YouTube can be just as important to driving views as what you’re doing on the site.

Funny_or_Die_logo

Strengths:

Funny or Die is probably the king of the comedy sites at the moment and it’s also deeply connected to the comedy industry. The site may live on the Internet, but it’s become a talent factory for TV shows and films.

Arguably the quickest path from Internet comedy to offline comedy is to get on the radar of the Funny or Die team.

This means that exposure on Funny or Die can create opportunities for you without needing a million views of your video first. The site regularly hires comedy writers and actors for its productions – including a ton on a freelance basis – and is constantly trolling for new talent. So having your videos on their site can increase your chances of getting discovered by them. By contrast, it’s unlikely YouTube is ever going to hire you for anything.

Another strength of Funny or Die is that you know every view you get from the site is coming from somebody who is interested in comedy as opposed to YouTube where the majority of people who may come across your video are probably not even looking for comedy – remember, not all views are created equal.

The niche nature of Funny or Die’s audience should (theoretically) increase your chances of converting each viewer into a fan.

Weaknesses:

The huge majority of Funny or Die’s traffic comes from its celebrity videos and whatever they feature on their home page or share on social media. Unlike YouTube, where people tend to get lost surfing around the site, Funny or Die’s audience is much smaller and doesn’t function in that way.

That means that uploading your videos to the site isn’t really about reaching the public as much as it’s about catching the eyes of the site’s editors and producers. In some ways, it’s like uploading an audition tape more so than uploading a video for an audience.

This is a long way of saying that you’re probably not going to get much traction from what you post there, unless somebody who works at Funny or Die sees it and loves it.

Facebook-Vector-Icon

Strengths:

No matter how frustrated people may get with Facebook, they certainly don’t stop using it. Facebook has tons of users and its social nature makes it incredibly easy for good videos to spread quickly.

It’s also an easier place for people to connect and follow you if they like your video – as great as YouTube’s subscription functionality is, it’s still only a relatively small group of users who actually subscribe to channels. On Facebook, everybody that sees your video is used to the concept of “Liking” pages and connecting with people.

But perhaps the biggest strength of Facebook as a video platform is that it’s the best way to reach people on Facebook. If you share a YouTube video on Facebook, it will not get pushed into many people’s feeds because Facebook doesn’t really want you using the YouTube player – they’d rather have you use their video player. As a result, they “favor” videos uploaded into their own player and show them in more people’s news feeds.

Based on what I’ve seen, the exact same video uploaded into the Facebook player will reach at least five times as many people as that same videos shared in a YouTube player on Facebook. That’s a huge difference in exposure.

And not only do Facebook videos appear in more people’s feeds, but they appear as auto-play videos which really captures people’s attention in their feeds. If you’re a Facebook user, I’m sure you’ve noticed how many more videos are appearing in your feed and I’m sure most of them catch your eye because of the auto-play. That’s something you’ll want to take advantage of and you can only do that if you upload your video to the Facebook player.

Weaknesses:

The Facebook video platform is amazing for Facebook and it’s really powerful, but…it doesn’t really have any reach outside of Facebook. That means that choosing to only use the Facebook video player is the equivalent of ignoring every other platform, website, and social network, which isn’t a great idea.

I’m a big proponent of using the Facebook player for sharing on Facebook, but it really shouldn’t be the only player you use.

vine-logoStrengths:

Vine stars are the new YouTube stars. Ok, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but there actually are some similarities.

Vine has blossomed into its own little universe and has created a bunch of its own stars who are now starting to make big bucks as brands chase their huge followings. Also, comedy plays really well on the platform and since it’s basically built on a social platform (and owned by Twitter) it can be relatively easy for your creations to spread and to grow your following.

It’s also still pretty early in the Vine game – at least as compared to sites like YouTube and Facebook – so there’s slightly less competition for attention than there may be on some other platforms.

Vine’s 6-second format favors comedians whose material and approach works well in short bursts, and it can be easy to capitalize on hashtags and trending memes that surface on the platform constantly. Plus, let’s be honest – it’s a lot easier to get somebody to give you 6 seconds of their time to watch your new creation than it is to get them to give you 6 minutes.

Weaknesses:

You can only do so much in 6-second increments. Also, even though Vine has a large and growing audience, it’s still much smaller than a lot of other platforms. It’s more of a niche play – a great tool for a particular type of content, but it definitely has its limits.

Instagram-logo-4Strengths:

The strengths of Instagram are very similar to those of Vine, but Instagram gives you a little more time to work with as its video time limit is 15 seconds. But, a big advantage of Instagram is that it’s also baked into the regular Instagram app so you can benefit from the booming popularity of Instagram in general.

Even though Vine videos often surface on other platforms, it still has its own app and functions in its own separate universe. Instagram videos are much more integrated into the Instagram photos app which means a larger audience for your content and the opportunity to capitalize on your photos as well as your videos in the same place.

Also, since Instagram is owned by Facebook there is some nice synergy and cross-promotional opportunities there as well.

Weaknesses:

In addition to the 15-second time limit, Instagram videos won’t show up in-line if people share them on Twitter (because Facebook and Twitter aren’t the best of friends and don’t always play nice).

It’s not a huge deal, but if you’re somebody who focuses on Twitter a lot as a platform, it’s worth knowing that Vine videos will show up in-stream more prominently than Instagram videos which will just show up as a link on Twitter.

So…Where Should You Post?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer and it completely depends on your goals and the type of videos you’re producing, here’s what I would recommend you do with your videos in general.

I think you should upload your videos to YouTube no matter what, so that you have a presence there. Even if most of your videos are short Vines, I’d still compile them and upload them there as compilations (or as standalone short videos) to give you a presence on the site.

Then, if you have a Facebook presence, I’d recommend uploading to the Facebook player when you share your videos there because it will be worth the little extra effort it takes to do so.

Beyond that, I think it depends on your own interests, goals, and the time you have available to spend uploading and sharing videos.

But I’d love to hear how you’re  approaching it, so please let me know in the comments on this post. And if there’s another video platform you’d like me to write an overview for and add to this post, let me know that too. Thanks!

How A 15-Year-Old Got 66 Million Video Views And A 50 Cent Cameo

Many of you have probably never heard of Keenan Cahill, but the chances are good that somebody has sent you one of his videos to watch at some point in the past couple years. That’s because Cahill, aka BeenerKeeKee19952 on YouTube, has gotten more than 66 million views of the videos he’s posted on his channel since October 2009.

Cahill is a 15-year-old YouTube star, whose videos primarily consist of him either lip-syncing or actually singing along to popular songs from the webcam in his bedroom in Chicago. He’s gotten so much traction and built such a following for himself that he recently was booked as a guest on Chelsea Lately where he debuted his newest video – a video that happens to include a cameo from none other than 50 Cent.

So how did this kid do it? Well, for starters he actually created something and put it out there – something that so many comedians who claim to be trying to build a career don’t ever seem to actually do. Sure, his videos are simple, but he’s unique and they struck a chord with an audience.

But that’s not the only secret to Cahill’s success. In a recent interview, Cahill explains some of what he’s learned over the course of the past couple years. Here’s an excerpt:

What’s the key to making a viral video?
I would say just be funny with it, something totally unexpected, something nobody else would ever think of. What I do is, I pick a funny song, something that’s popular, and it’s funny for a guy to do a really upbeat girl song.

Here’s another interview with Cahill from a Chicago radio show where he talks a little more about his story:

And finally, for a little more inspiration here’s Keenan performing “Live Your Life”:

5 Tips For Stand Up Comedian Arbel Kodesh

In 5 Free Tips, I provide some advice specifically tailored to one person’s content. If you’d like me to give you 5 Free Tips, please send me an email and tell me a little about yourself.

Today’s free tips are for stand up comedian Arbel Kodesh, who sent me the following email:

Hi Josh,

My name is Arbel Kodesh. I’m a 21 year old stand up comedian currently living in Palo Alto California. I read your “5 Free Tips” and was wondering if you could help me out. I’ve been doing stand up for about a year and enjoy it a lot. I try to take advantage of every opportunity I get to perform but I still don’t feel like that’s enough. I really want to get a lot of people to see my material and what I’m about, and I don’t feel that performing once a week (normally in front of a lot of other comedians) is the way to get a following or get my name out.

Here are some links to some youtube videos of me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4fm0ZyBpyQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUbQgc4rzp4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbStFyATZu8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AssENJ8_OeM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpBC2GPrHWI&feature=related

I also have a facebook fanpage:

http://www.facebook.com/arbelkodesh

If you have any advice please let me know.

I really appreciate it!

-Arbel

I checked out Arbel’s work and came up with the following 5 Free Tips for him:

TIP #1: Pay Attention To Video Titles

If you’re looking to get more views of your videos, one simple thing you can do is title them in a way that will attract some views from people searching YouTube for similar stuff. For example, the videos on your channel are titled things like “Arbel on Celebrities,” and “Arbel on Coca Cola.” But it’s doubtful that anybody’s searching YouTube for “Arbel on…” anything because not many people know you yet.

I’d suggest instead titling the videos to include relevant words that people do search for. For example, your “Arbel on Celebrities” video includes a bit about the singer Pitbull who lots of people search for and those people will be most likely to “get” your joke. So titling your video something like “How Pitbull Records His Songs” might get you some extra views because it will show up as a related video when people are watching other Pitbull videos and the more interesting title might catch their eye and get you some easy clicks.

One more quick note about this. I would still include your name in the title, but you can put it after the headline. So the Pitbull video title would be, “How Pitbull Records His Songs – Arbel Kodesh.” I’d put your name after a hypen at the end of all of your videos because that will help them show up as related.

TIP #2: Start A Blog

You mentioned wanting to get your name out to more people and I’d highly recommend starting a blog of some sort. Whether you’re writing funny stuff on the blog, or even just sharing funny videos or links to interesting things you find, having a blog is a very easy way to give people a reason to start connecting with you. Making videos takes time and effort, but blogging can be much quicker and it starts to give people a reason to check out your site every day. They get in the habit of that, which comes in handy when you do have a new video or show you want to promote.

One more quick note about blogging: In general, I’d recommend posting stuff that will be of value to other people. Having a blog and just promoting your own stuff all the time is rarely compelling to readers so it’s much more effective if you’re sharing stuff that has real entertainment value to them. If you establish yourself as a source for funny or interesting content, people will definitely come back to see more.

TIP #3: Contribute To Other Sites

One of the most common traps I see comics fall into is that the content they create winds up only being seen by the same people that already follow them and as a result they’re never really adding new fans or growing their audience. One of the best ways to break out of this is to contribute to other sites or channels.

Don’t be afraid to do a guest post or video for somebody else and think of it as a way to introduce yourself to a new audience. And of course, the bigger the site, the more new fans you may be able to attract.

TIP #4: Post Things On Facebook That People Will Share

It’s great that you’ve got a Facebook fan page and it’s nice to see you’ve already got some good interaction on it. Just like with blogging, you can grow your Facbeook page by sharing valuable or entertaining content that people are going to want to share with their friends. All too often people think that the only stuff they should post on their Facebook page is their own creations and that’s just not true.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a hilarious cat video that you’ve found online even if it has nothing specifically to do with you. As long as it’s entertaining, what will happen is your Facebook followers will share it with their friends and when they do those friends will see it as being shared “via Arbel Kodesh” which introduces you to a whole new audience.

Your goal on Facebook should be to post as much “shareable” content as possible, because the more people share what you post, the more people are introduced to your page, and the more people are likely to then follow you themselves.

TIP #5: Subscribe and Comment On Other YouTube Channels

YouTube is definitely a community and if you want to get more people subscribing and commenting on your videos, then you need to make yourself a part of that community. Right now, you’re not subscribed to any YouTube channels and I doubt that you comment on many videos. But think about this: Every time you comment on a video or subscribe to somebody’s channel, a link to your channel gets on their radar. It’s really free promotion for your channel.

In general, you’ll find that the more you become a part of the YouTube community, the more attention that community will pay to your own creations.

I hope this helps Arbel, and if anybody else would like to get 5 Free Tips, please let me know.