Using social media for direct response – the Colin Kane model.

I have seen a ton of stuff lately about how companies can build their brand through social media.  It’s obvious that social media is here to stay (duh) and that social media (especially mobile social media) has generated a paradigm shift in marketing.  As an agency, part of our job at bloomfield knoble is to identify trends and maximize their use on behalf of our clients, which is why we now offer a wide range of social media services.

As an agency, the core of our work for clients revolves around AAU (Awareness, Attitude and Usage).  I’ve read articles, books and blogs and will probably head to a social media bootcamp in the near future, all in an attempt to make sure we are building client brand awareness and generating positive response.  What we really haven’t mastered (and a lot haven’t) is how to drive usage.  The truth is that mastering usage isn’t keeping me awake at night, mostly because it just doesn’t “feel” like we have to master it yet.

For now, since social media is still pretty new and evolving, as long as we nail awareness and attitude, I think we can return a positive ROI for clients.  However, like I said earlier, identifying trends is important and the day is coming when usage will be a primary concern for social media.  So, I’ve got this ‘thing’ in the back of my mind as I’m surfing Twitter and I’m checking out the latest Tweets from my favorite comedian and it hits me . . . I’m looking at the perfect use of social media for direct response.

His name is Colin Kane.

Let me start by saying that I do not personally know Colin Kane, but I am a fan.  I did not interview him for this article, these are just my observations.  Anyway, according to his website, “a born and bred New Yorker, Colin Kane has been laying the comedy smackdown on packed houses since 2002, forging his career on the New York comedy circuit. Playing to audiences in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, D.C., Chicago, Mexico City, Norway and Stockholm, Kane has proven his acidic brand of humor has a wide and multifarious appeal. His ability to convert audiences into staunchly loyal fans has helped him spread his uniquely perverse brand of comedy to a worldwide stage.

Billed by Dennis Miller as “the next really big comedian” and described by fans as “acerbic and brilliant”, Colin Kane nailed down the winning spot on Howard Stern’s Kill or Be Killed and is a serial guest on the zenith of early morning radio, Opie and Anthony. Kane’s talent and prolific vocation have allowed him the opportunity to work for everyone from the racially charged Paul Mooney to the deeply perceptive Jerry Seinfeld, playing on his ability to appeal to a diverse cross section of audiences.  Kane’s unequaled defining factor is his knack for incorporating improv into his sets, maintaining a level of surprising originality in each performance. Rarely does a comedian come along that has the verbal agility to spin rapid fire wit and comebacks so smoothly.

After a successful two year run at the world renowned Caroline’s on Broadway, Kane has continued his meteoric rise in the comedy scene by playing to 7,000 fans at Madison Square Garden Theater. With his sardonic banter and brazen observations, Kane has solidified his reputation as an entertainer who can not only fill seats, but enrapture the general masses and create a legion of unwavering followers.

I have seen him in person and heard him on the radio and he absolutely killed . . . I mean KILLED.  As a fan, let me strongly suggest you catch his stand up should you be lucky enough to have the opportunity.  Fan worship aside, in terms of this article, I am more impressed with how he uses social media to drive direct response.  Here’s a quick overview of what I’ve noticed.

Awareness: Colin uses social media to let people know he is a comic.  He builds awareness by very effectively utilizing followers as advocates to help get the word out.  He asks, always very politely, that if you (as a follower) find him funny, to let others know about him.  I have done this many times myself, and often without prompting.  I will retweet something he writes or promote him on ‘Follow Fridays’ to my followers.

Attitude: Colin uses social media to entertain.  I suspect that he would be the first to tell you that not everyone will find his style of humor endearing, but that’s OK (I base this on his Twitter description), because a lot of people do find him funny.  Colin regularly tweets very funny quips.  He puts out killer YouTube videos and he engages fans on Facebook.  He may do more, but these are the main places where I get engaged.  Being funny is just one part of how he builds attitude.  Unlike many celebrities, he is incredibly responsive via social media.  He will make himself available for questions – answers everything – goes out of his way to write real response and a wide range of topics.  As a result, I, personally, have found myself  becoming a loyal social media advocate because he takes time to interact.

Usage: I don’t pretend to exactly know how compensation works for stand-up comics, but I’m pretty sure that selling tickets is going to be an important part of generating success, and this is where Colin’s social media usage really shines.  Intentionally or not, Colin is following best practices to generate usage.  On Twitter, for example, he “asks” for something about 1 out of 10 tweets, which has never felt self-promoting to me.  In fact, many of the usage tweets are informative in nature (date / location) as opposed to direct sales offers.  He also utilizes a reward structure for advocates.  I have seen him offer tickets for free to those that are loyal followers or those that help him promote a show.  More than anything, I have noticed that he uses social media to generate a very specific call-to-action (come see me “here” on “date”) – and he’s doing it well.

I don’t know if it’s his age (he seems young to me, but then again, I am old) and that’s he’s just hip to social media, or if he really “gets” people (he’s clearly a master of observation) and knows how to communicate, or what, but the truth is that I am supposed to be the “agency guy” and he’s way out in front of me.

I’m not too proud to admit when I’ve been beaten, so my plan is to take a lesson from Colin Kane and encourage our clients to use social media the way he uses social media and take it all the way from awareness to usage.

Shameless fan plugs:

Visit Colin’s Website.

Visit Colin’s YouTube channel.

Visit Colin’s Facebook page.

Follow Colin on Twitter.

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