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.

Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association.