Humor ranked as one of the highest-engagement content types when video genres were researched by BuzzSumo recently. And Edison Research found in its own independent research that audiences between 12 and 24 prefer Instagram (73 percent), Snapchat (79 percent) and Musical.ly (11 percent) — all platforms serving as potential places to post video content.
When research confirms what you knew, it could be smart to weigh the possibilities. Of the videos you’re creating to promote your business, how many are funny?
Using Humor in Social Media Marketing
In social media, funny videos have a strong chance of being reshared. Brian G. Peters, digital marketing strategist at Buffer, says, “Trouble is, it’s hard to create funny videos, but if you’re a funny person, you’re in luck because it’s a high-engagement video type.” Could comedy have ranked number one in BuzzSumo’s study if humor wasn’t so hard to create? And how much tougher is live comedy? Live or not, planned or not, comedy has always been one of the hardest nuts to crack.
Small Business Trends reached out to professional entertainer and social media personality Billy Mann to discuss the serious business of using humor in social media marketing.
Billy Mann is an actor, singer, voiceover talent, dancer, writer and all around entertainer. Add his background as a professional competitive half pipe skier and a degree in mechanical engineering, he claims his main goal with this versatile skill set is to positively impact the world by helping everyone smile. Acting in viral commercials and working with YouTube filmmakers, Mann has a broad reach (combined views and combined followers) and a deep understanding of the industry and how to interact with his audience. He says his “cheesy but charming” charisma on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Musical.ly, etc. is part of his influencer business mindset.
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Small Business Trends: I can only guess the business of comedy is actually more complex than meets the eye. What are the creative briefs like? What things have you learned during your time working with brands?
Billy Mann: Well put; the end result of a comedy story for a brand looks like sunshine and high fives, but it is sometimes a very complex process. The most important things I’ve learned while working with brands is to make sure the story is not just silly for the sake of silliness, but also tells a cohesive tale. Also you want to be sure that whatever you pitch, you make the brand the hero of the story. Whether they want explosive brand mentions, or more subtle pitches that don’t feel anything like ads or partnerships, companies love when they are made the victors of the creative. Also learning to collaborate on idea notes with clients so that we both get what we want has been a great learning curve. As often as possible, you want to be sure to keep your own voice and artistic integrity while meeting the requirements of the brand. That way everyone wins.
Small Business Trends: What’s an issue in your field that isn’t getting enough attention?
Billy Mann: One issue that I see in my field is a lack of fiscal respect. With this being said, I completely understand the notion of ROI and building a portfolio that would be worth a company investing any money into. However, far too often companies these days will expect a large amount of creative work — work that requires pre-planning and sometimes difficult execution — for little to no payment. Hopefully over time, brands will realize that if they go to a specific person for a certain stylization of story or creativity, that the time put into creating such a story is worth more than just a tag in a description. Exposure and compensation are two different things.
Small Business Trends: Are you asked to do live video or mostly the Stories format?
Billy Mann: More often than not, I have been asked to make either short or long storylines, because audiences love my quirky comedy with crazy situations and sound effects that cannot always be replicated via livestream. However, with my recent growth on live platforms, I’m sure the inclusion of livestreaming will become part of the package deal.
Small Business Trends: So you also travel internationally to work. Do clients brief you on what overseas cultures consider funny and not funny?
Billy Mann: That’s actually a great question. No, they never needed to brief me on a new country’s culture because my creative pitch for each country job would be pre-approved before I flew to do the partnership. I have also been keeping tabs on my reach on Snapchat and Instagram by asking each new commenter where they are from and keeping notes in my phone, so currently around 85 different countries enjoy my style of comedy. That means my creative pitches sometimes only need slight tweaking because the appeal of the comedy stylings is universally understood and appreciated.
Small Business Trends: Tell us something about yourself you don’t normally mention.
Billy Mann: In my spare time, I used to make jewelry for fun. Like earrings and bracelets and stuff out of colored metals rings that I would arrange into patterns.
Small Business Trends: Were you always funny? What’s your back story?
Billy Mann: I don’t know if I have always been funny, but I have definitely always been high energy. I grew up just north of Lake Tahoe in Truckee, California, where I started skiing when I was two years old. That became my profession, and I traveled as a competitive halfpipe skier.
I competed in World Cups until I unfortunately tore my knee at the Olympic Qualifiers in New Zealand in 2013. I was balancing skiing with a college education, so after surgery I went back to school full time to finish my degree in mechanical engineering. It was during this loss of competitive skiing that I had an existential crisis: ‘Without my skiing, what am I now!?’ Around this time, my brother had gotten his first job in the industry as a storyboard artist for a TV show on Nickelodeon, and it was then that I realized what I would do. I would work my butt off to help people smile, to help positively impact the world through entertainment and acting.
My brother gave me great advice: “Find what you want to do in life, and learn more about it than anyone.” That’s exactly what I started doing. I did standup comedy, took acting/singing/dancing lessons, learned anything I thought was inclusive in the ‘entertainment industry’. I then randomly met a famous YouTube filmmaker from Utah and we hit it off. I moved to Utah to work with him and other filmmakers in that area. Best decision of my life! I have been working hard to build my resume ever since so that I may better and better fulfill my dream of helping the world smile.
Small Business Trends: How should people get a hold of you?
Billy Mann: The great thing about social media and technology is that this question has so many answers! Anyone interested in getting in touch can email [email protected] or send a snap or DM to my Snapchat or Instagram at mannbilly — that’s the name of my brand.
Images: Billy Mann
This is part of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world.