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How Big Brands Can Win With Comedians On Twitter

Aziz Ansari, Steve Martin, Sarah Silverman…they’re brilliant, funny, widely beloved, and seriously social media-savvy. It’s not surprising that social media has become a greenfield for comedians who are willing to put in the work. The numbers that link humor to successful advertising are undeniable.

Have you wondered how to harness comedic energy (without monetizing it) to bulk up your social media cred (without forcing it)? We’ve compiled a list of three ways big brands can dialogue with comedians to connect with audiences on the level that really hits home: a mighty belly laugh.


1. Fight fire with fire…and keep it going.

Too often, people think of brands (especially big ones) as soulless monoliths with a serious lack of snark and heart. But everyone loves to be surprised, and the thrill of an unexpected connection. Take the Classic Social Media Fable of Rob Delaney and Home Depot, for instance.

Comedian Rob Delaney, with over 1 million followers on Twitter, makes his bread from getting a rise out of people on and offline. One day he decided to involve Home Depot in one of his slightly-outside-the-lines jokes.



Uh-oh. This guy’s a loose canon. Best not to respond, right? Think again. Home Depot tweeted back:



And this is how Rob Delaney’s followers responded:


So did it work? We looked at Home Depot’s account for the entire month of the Tweet:

 Screenshot 2014-02-19 15.03.38

Notice that on August 13, the day this went down, @HomeDepot received their highest engagement spike of the month, with 1,134 @mentions, favorites, and retweets, blowing all other engagement activity that month out of the water, even though they Tweeted far less than their daily average. Of this astronomical bump in engagement, 1,009 cases were favorites:

Screenshot 2014-02-19 15.02.41

That’s 1,453% more engagement than August’s daily average. We’ll give that a moment to sink in. Now, what if Home Depot made dialogues of this nature a central (and proactive) part of its social media strategy? What if Home Depot became know as a brand that could consistently take jokes and make them, too? We’ve seen this tactic work for Taco Bell, and other large B2C companies. Rob Delaney tweeted at the home construction giant a few months later and got an equally witty response, so we know they’re capable: followupConversation with  robdelaney   HomeDepot and  ShawnPaulWood  with tweets  · ascottfalk · Storify

Keeping the encouraging numbers cited above in mind, a more proactive approach could transform Home Depot’s humorous moments from isolated events to a key component of brand identity—a worthy goal for any company’s marketing team as this resonation measurement graph clearly indicates:


 2. Get affiliated with the community.

South By Southwest™ Comedy News   SXSW 2014

If you’re looking to infuse your social media strategy with humor, it’s important to build a strong association between your brand and big smiles by capitalizing on comedy events and enriching your Twitter feed with unique media like Instagram pictures, Vines, and videos.  We’re thinking behind-the-scenes footage, green room chatter…content that fans won’t be able to access anywhere else. Last week, we posted about the upcoming SXSW festival in Austin, TX, a taste-making hub for everything from bands to start-ups. But it’s not just rad musicians and trendsetting tech peeps (like the Simply Measured team) who descend upon this networking mecca. Each year, SXSW Comedy offers a selection of panels with a focus on humor and the creative process. This year, SXSW Comedy presents sessions featuring Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and many more comedy scene luminaries.  Attending events like this and building content around them creates a durable bond between your brand and the entertainers your audience loves. SXSW Comedy 2014 is sponsored by Miller Lite, Monster Energy, esurance….and those are only the top three. If they’re smart, they’ll be the first ones in on the joke, live-tweeting the whole shebang.

3. When opportunity knocks…

While riding the wave of a social media win (and extending it—see #1) is vitally important, recognizing when an opportunity has arrived is the first step. Take this gift in disguise, for example:


Say you’re a big running shoe brand. This tweet leaves the door open to respond to not one but two popular comics with humor and maybe even a link to your latest product. Send a cheeky tweet with an embedded link, follow up with a swag delivery to Amy and keep your fingers crossed for a dialogue that gains media traction and social media fanfare.

It’ll be interesting to watch how dialoguing with comedians and supporting humor-based initiatives will influence social media strategy and brand perception for companies of all shapes and sizes. As brands start to understand their value and place, how do you see these comedian-oriented programs moving forward?

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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