The Social Media Cut-ups

Humor has always been part of my persona.  So, when I took my persona into the social media sphere, my sense of humor came along with me.

Social Media Humor isn’t just tweeting out the link to the latest @oatmeal comic (for that just shows how funny he is and that you’re at least bright enough to notice).  Rather, it is the ability to use a mix of commentary and content sharing to holistically develop a persona that will make people laugh even though many of the folks following you have no real-life reference point of you from which to draw from.  Many people who are funny in person are unable to bring that to the Internet…their humorous mannerisms and gestures are not available for use online.  However, if your personality tends towards the silly, the virtual medium presents an indefinite palate that, filtered through the joker’s prism, can tickle the funny bone of many (who by fact of being connected to you via social media, are more likely to respond in the manner intended).

These are the four funniest guys in my social media sphere IMO.

Brian Carter

Bio: CEO of FanReach, Brian Carter has been an Internet Marketer, speaker, and social media trainer since 1999. Brian has been quoted and profiled by Information Week, US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine. He has taught Facebook Real Estate Marketing, Business to Business Social Media and How to Get More Facebook Fans.

Brian works with Wynn Solutions to train businesses of all sizes – from small business to Fortune 500 – with onsite social networking workshops, and speaks regularly at conferences including PubCon and Socialize. Check out his his free Facebook Marketing 101 course, and the full FanReach Facebook Marketing and Advertising course. Brian is also available for Facebook and AdWords Consultant services .

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

I would say it is 95-99%. But the thing is that just as in real life, the closer you are to me, the more you see. The real question is: is this persona something you construct on purpose and distill down to its DNA so you can show it in brief to everyone everywhere, or is this persona like the elephant from that story where each blind man only experienced part of it and each thought it was a totally different animal? I’m one of those SEO guys that has a dozen sites about my businesses, so probably most people don’t see all of me. But that also allows me to get business for AdWords or Facebook marketing or training specifically, and then parlay that into other things. Sometimes I recommend a different service than what they came to me for, and sometimes I recommend my online training instead.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

Networking with social media is similar to real world networking, in that you’re more successful at it if people like you. How do you become more likable? I’ve found that if you can make fun of yourself, people like you more. Also, I do a lot of work as the “expert” in something, and experts can be boring and intimidating. Humor makes my speaking and writing less boring and makes me less intimidating (I know, all 5 foot 6 intimidating inches of me). See what I did there? And you can make fun of other things too- it’s riskier to make fun of a client or student, but if you have enough real world experience, you can probably feel out the right circumstances for it. There’s no substitute for real world networking because that’s where you learn this stuff- you need to learn it where you can see people’s eyes and body language to know if you’re overstepping or not. But there’s always risk involved. Being funny is a risk. There are still times where I wonder if I went over the line and wait anxiously to hear back how they reacted.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

What I’ve learned is that most people want to know that I’m an expert, that I get results, that I care about helping them, and that I take my work seriously. I think starting off my professional persona with humor, as I did from 2007 to 2009 kept me from certain opportunities, although it helped a lot with speaking gigs. Enough people gave me feedback over the years to realize that there are people who don’t believe anyone that acts like a comedian can help you with real problems. I think when people are considering paying you a lot of money to help them with something they don’t totally understand (digital marketing), they have reasonable fears and anxieties. They want to have confidence in you and, unfortunately, comedy can be confusing to people at that stage.

But once you’re working with someone and getting results, a sense of humor can help a lot. You can diffuse tense situations and avoid misunderstandings. I’m not one who thinks you should keep a client beyond when you’re helpful to them, but I do think you can keep clients longer if you use humor appropriately.  And that’s a big corollary to all of this: if there’s hate or bitterness behind your humor, you’re fooling yourself. And before you try to be funny in a business setting, you should try to be funny at Toastmasters or a stand up open mike or an improv class (although in improv you shouldn’t TRY to be funny)- find out if you can do clean funny humor first.

So overall, I advocate layers- have a professional image, but use humor as a seasoning. The better you know someone and the more trust there is, the more humor you can use.

Jon Henshaw

Bio: Jon Henshaw has been wasting a significant part of his time on the Internet since 1995 and is currently the Co-Founder and Director of Product Innovation at Raven Internet Marketing Tools.

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

It depends on which persona you’re talking about. For example, if you’re talking about my personal Twitter persona, @henshaw, your question would be ridiculous. I in no way have lasers coming out of my nose and eyes, but I do have whiskers and enjoy being pet.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

Expressing my humor via social media has been great for offending people. The unfortunate part of social media is that it’s void of intonations. People who don’t know you well can easily take your jokes the wrong way. My humor was stunted at age 15 (although some would argue 5) and has never matured. I enjoy just about any joke that’s raunchy, dark and just plain wrong, as long as it’s not mean spirited and is somewhat clever.

I think my humor has unintentionally helped me connect with others in a few ways. First, when I post something funny, my friends share it with their friends. Second, humor helps initiate a comment thread on Twitter or Facebook. Finally, I’ve recently found that I’m reaching people I didn’t even know I was reaching. When I go to social events, I usually have at least one person mention how funny they think my posts are. Thanks to that feedback, I’m now planning to add “humor guru” to my Twitter bio.

Pro Tip: Adding the word “guru” to your Twitter bio will increase the number of bots and douchebags following you by 100.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

I would talk about how nobody likes it when someone comes across as personable and funny, and that the best way to interact with people is to be as boring as possible. Then they would say, “But that’s not true Jon! Most people like friendly, funny people.” Then the most obvious fact in the world will dawn on them, and I’ll say, “Bam! You’ve just been paradoxically intervened!!!” And they’ll be like, “Huh?” And I’ll be like, “Nevermind.”

Aaron Chronister

Bio: I’m TheMadHat and full of it but at least I admit it. I primarily do SEM Consulting but am also an entrepreneur…strike that because I think that’s a ridiculous word. I like to call myself an executioner. Ready, Fire, Aim. Execute shit, don’t sit around and have meetings about your ideas because someone already has thought of it. I am the co-founder of BBQ Addicts, creators of the alarmingly healthy Bacon Explosion.

My most recent business venture I co-founded is Jukeboxx Media, a custom music management company based here in Kansas City (and no, I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, but I know how to plug shit in). I’m also screwing around with some other startups. And apparently I’ve got a sense of humor.

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

My real life and social media persona are pretty much identical. If you’ve met me you probably know that already. I’m blunt, honest, first to call bullshit (or in the mix with @sugarrae, @pearsonified, and a few others anyway). I have a long list of things people do that piss me off and I say so… in a humorous way of course. I don’t like selfish people, I hate tattle tales (not mentioning any names though Mr Fishki… oops), people that sell crap products just to exploit you and take your money. Most of what I say is for shits and giggles, but true. Some of what I say is just for shits and giggles, and I do it to some of my good friends too, but like me, they don’t take anything personally. For example, I’m always railing on Shoemonkey but he has a sense of humor and is a good guy. After I wrote that post he actually said he’d pay for me to make those shirts and pass them around at conferences. He knows good link bait when he sees it 🙂

My wife made me a shirt that says “Cute and Funny”… it probably should have said “Weird Looking and Fucking Hilarious”. If you can’t have fun in life, irregardless of the situation, then lighten up and have a beer or something. Or go smoke something and have a good laugh (yes, I said irregardless on purpose for those of you who don’t understand sarcasm, and no I don’t condone the use of mind altering illegal drugs). Macalen (my daughter), if you’re reading this I’ll thump your head if you actually take that seriously.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

Humor and social media. If I had time, I’d do some kind of case study on level of humor correlated with number of followers and amount of engagement (actually Todd, since this is your post you should go ahead and do that). I already know what the results would be, but I’ll climb out on a limb and just tell you that it helps.  A lot. People can connect to someone with a sense of humor, and it helps you build trust because they know you’re sincere and a real person and not some robot peddling an e-book. I’ll prove that in the next question if you’re still that bored and reading this.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

People that say humor shouldn’t be a part of a “professional” social media persona should just go jump off a bridge (no, I don’t actually condone that either you nimrods). Go ask Jon Stewart what he thinks about that. Yes, he’s a comedian first but he also is a legitimate reporter and activist and I believe there was a poll that ranked The Daily Show as the most trusted news show on air. But that’s a bit off topic… let’s go with straight social media examples. Can you name any companies that have gained massive popularity and engagement by adding humor to their persona? I can. Take @woot for example. It’s a great business model but what makes it the best daily deal site is the injection of humor and personality. @zappos, @MoosejawMadness (one of my favorite places to buy gear) are other prime examples. Personality and humor have taken them a long way and they accomplished it very quickly.  (I’m using twitter in all of these examples, but their unique voice crosses over to their other SM channels).

Now for the disclaimer. I’m not saying it’s appropriate for every organization, and can certainly backfire. I don’t think the Red Cross should be sending out tweets making fun of other charities. Common sense people… I know it’s a difficult concept.

Now, look to your left and be a smart-ass to that person. Or go randomly pick someone on twitter and tell them to punch themselves in the face.

Ian Lurie

Bio: Ian Lurie is Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President at Portent, an internet marketing company he started in 1995. Portent is a full-service internet marketing company whose services include SEO, SEM and strategic consulting. He started practicing SEO in 1997 and has been addicted ever since.

Ian rants and raves, with a little teaching mixed in, on his internet marketing blog, Conversation Marketing.   He also co-published the Web Marketing for Dummies All In One Desk Reference.   In it, he wrote the sections on SEO, blogging, social media and web analytics.

You may find him teaching his kids to play D & D on the weekends, or dragging his tongue on the ground as he pedals his way up Seattle’s ridiculously steep hills.

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

Disturbingly close. I’ve always dealt with life’s situations – good or bad – with humor. So it’s a natural way for me to communicate with others.

I tend to be more diplomatic in real life, where my main concern is not hurting folks’ feelings. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings in social media, either, but I find that those conversations are ones where folks take what you say with a bit more of a grain of salt, so you can get away with more.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

First, it’s a great teaching tool. People better remember lessons learned when those lessons evoke a strong emotional response.

Second, I think it disarms readers a little bit. I’ve had people tell me I’m intimidating in person and online (which is very hard to believe – I wish I was more intimidating back in middle school). A little humor – especially directed at myself – goes a long way.

Third, it makes me comfortable. I’m not the best in social situations, real or virtual. I have to get to know people first. Humor helps me over the initial conversational hump.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

You’re taking yourself too seriously. And you’re making a mistake thinking you can don a ‘separate’ persona for professional, online interaction. At some point, your real personality will slip out. If humor is part of that personality, why not have it there from the start?

Social media is communications. Communications is about effectively delivering a message. Humor is one of several great tools for that delivery. Why would you immediately remove a tool from your arsenal?

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Social Media Cut-ups

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