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Conan: Taking Loyalty to a Whole New Level

In the world of comedy, the name Conan O’Brien is synonymous with the phrase “loyal fans.”

Now, Conan may not have had the numbers or the widespread appeal to hold down the prestigious “Tonight Show” gig, but his devil-may-care self-promotion and unyielding self-deprication make him a favorite with a demographic inclined toward social media.

So how does this “mainstream counterculture” icon go about rounding up his loyal fans via social networking tools?

In preparation for the debut of his TBS cable talk show, Conan installed a webcam that streamed live from inside his office building for a full 24 hours. The so-called “Coco Cam” offered a behind-the-scenes portrait of the weird life of Conan and his cohorts.

Since his abrupt and uncomfortable exit from NBC, Conan embarked on a comedy concert tour and has popped up on Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, YouTube, among others. He touted potential guests like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, but has also floated pipedreams like Pope Benedict XVI, the Sultan of Brunei and Jack Nicholson (who hasn’t done a talk show in 30-plus years).

Seth Rogen won a Twitter poll, earning him first-guest status, but O’Brien eventually settled on more conventional choices as well, including Tom Hanks, Jon Hamm and Michael Cera.

What can we learn from Conan?

  • First, don’t be afraid to take yourself, or your brand, a little less seriously. Others see your weaknesses. If you acknowledge those weaknesses – and get past them – loyal fans will be inclined to accept them as lovable foibles that offer charm and a certain sense of being “in.”
  • Traditional media should be a part of your promotional plans for catering to an older, more traditional target demographic. But if you are in any way competing for the business of those under the age of 30, it’s time to investigate the “FLIT” connection: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Go viral. YouTube is an easy way to make your brand accessible to millions of potential supporters worldwide. Here, of course, you are competing against thousands of other voices clamoring for the attention of the proletariat, so seek a little professional guidance to break through the noise and position your message among those being widely viewed and shared.
Sallie Burnett
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