Here’s what I learned from Scott Bromley—Community Manager for, and creator and host of the Comedy Button—when he talked about the best ways to use social media in an interview with Mike Wolpert on Social Jumpstart TV.

First, I have to give you Bromley’s track record, because it will immediately convince you that you should listen to this guy.

-He has created a couple of million-hit viral videos. Yes, I said he has done this MORE THAN ONCE. There’s no such thing as an expert on how to make a viral video, but if there were, Scott Bromley would be my pick. (He made the one where Charlie Sheen plays Call of Duty.)

-After Bromley got involved with a show on video game site, it went from #14 to #1. When the show took off on its own to become the Comedy Button, they asked for $6K on Kickstarter, reached their goal in half an hour, stopped advertising, and ended up raising $40K in 30 days. Comedy Button now has 250,000 people listening all the time.

-He grew the online audience for from 5,000 to 500,000 in 18 months.

-Recently Mashable came out with their list of the top trending topics on Twitter. In the tech category, five of the top ten trending topics had been started by Scott Bromley at Yes, I said HALF OF THE TOP TEN.

Now you’re ready to listen to everything he has to say, right? I knew it.

Bromley’s Advice to Small Businesses Using Social Media

-Know who your audience is. Figure out how your audience is talking to each other before you start talking to them. The most common mistake companies make with social media is that they fail to speak in the language of their customers. They have this huge audience for a product, but they aren’t paying attention to what the people using the product are saying, and they’re not talking back to them in a language they can understand. Some huge brand says, “Hey, it’s 50% off,” but that’s not how they should be talking to their customers. People want something else; they want to talk to their friends about the product and interact with the brand in a human way.

-Do research on your customers. Find out what they do and what they’re interested in. Look around the Internet with an eye toward finding out what is going on in your customers’ world. What’s new, and what are people interested in? Then look at the world of your business and figure out what you have to offer that will interest those customers in their world, right now.

-Now you have this little bucket of information to deliver to your customers. What’s the best time to deliver it? Use some strategy! Where are most of your customers, when are they online, and when are they most likely to be open to receiving the information you have to deliver? One good time to post is at noon or 1 Pacific Time—lunchtime on the West coast, and near the end of the day on the East coast. First thing in the morning is also a good time. (Bromley is a 9, noon, and 4 guy.)

-After you listen, talk back. If a customer has a problem, don’t ignore it. Don’t act like a big company, answering from on high; act like a person. Hey Jim, so sorry, take these steps, hope it helps, and if not let me know. And do that in a public forum, where everyone can see it. You’re fixing one person’s problem, but also you’re also demonstrating to many people that there’s a person on the other end who is actually reading this and responding.

-Be consistent in your posting. If you post a lot and then take a break, the whole audience you built up will fall away. Also, be aware that Facebook and Twitter have different frequencies for what is consistent and what it spam.

-If what you’re posting is going to bore your spouse, don’t post it.

-If you want to make a video, don’t make it boring! Don’t stand up in front of your logo and talk, and don’t give a tour of your facility; think of something else. Think about entertaining your audience. Make it a 30-second idea. Even if you do an office tour, spin it so that it’s entertaining to a person who doesn’t care about the office. If you can’t make something entertaining, find someone who can.

-Be real. Be authentic. Be consistent. Be entertaining.

Bromley’s Advice About Making a Viral Video

-DON’T TRY TO MAKE A VIRAL VIDEO. If you care, if you aim for this, it won’t go.

-What’s going on in the world? Make something that’s involved in the cultural zeitgest of the moment.

-Quick and dirty is key. Make it quick, short, and to the point. If it’s 90 seconds long, you’re dead. 30-45 seconds is best. (I feel compelled to interject at this point that Bromley’s Charlie Sheen video is almost two minutes long. Just sayin.)

-Make it short, simple, and stupid.

What You Can Learn from IGN, Comedy Button, and Tagged

-At IGN, Bromley was able to grow the online audience from 5,000 to 500,000 by giving the company a voice and a personality. He says it’s about knowing how to give your audience what they want. The content was there—IGN was constantly cranking out articles—and his job was to figure out how to spin the article so people would click on it and then share it with their friends. He used programming strategy: What’s going to play at certain times of the day? How can the headline be rewritten to engage people? By doing that, he was able to start trending topics on Twitter. But he wouldn’t have been able to do all of that if IGN weren’t a constant content-creating machine. He believes that anyone with a constant stream of good content ought to be able to spin it in a way that will grab a big audience.

-At Comedy Button, their audience is still growing; it hasn’t plateaued yet. It still feels underground, like a secret club, even though it’s popular. Bromley’s attitude toward the audience is: they’ve showed up, now let’s play. The hosts have a lot of fan interaction online, which helps build the audience. Three of the five hosts are hands-on with social media. Social media is a place where their fans talk about the jokes they like, and the hosts mine comments for material to find out what worked and what didn’t, how people are talking about it, and how to improve future shows.

-Tagged brought Bromley in to change their social networking strategy. Before, they were using a tech-savvy style. He spent his first two weeks listening to the audience talking, and discovered that 90% of them did not speak that tech-savvy language. So he slowly started posting more, posting more casually, and posting things the audience would be interested in, based on what they wanted to talk about and using their own language. He is trying to create a voice and personality for the company, so that when you come to the social networking arm of Tagged, it feels like a person, and it all sounds and feels the same. Right now he’s getting the community used to a constant stream of content, and experimenting with when and how often to post, and the community is responding. All of his information comes from listening.

Takeaway: Find the entertainer inside. Social media is your chance to let it out.

Author : Alexa Weinstein