Interviewer’s Note: You’re seeing a Pluggio Blog interview first: our first interview with a comedian, and one who has built an incredible following of 83,000 people (and counting)! We will hear how Ben Mathai talk about how he did that, as well as hear his take on using social media for his career.
Hello Ben! Welcome to the Pluggio Blog! How do you describe your approach to comedy?
My approach is to observe and report – on anything and everything, from my childhood to ignorance I see today, to my own foolishness. I like to keep it relatively clean, which is how I am in person, for the most part.
How did you get started as a comedian?
I entered an amateur competition my first time on stage and was one of two people from 13 selected to move on to the finals in Toronto. I had just wanted to try it once, but after that I knew that maybe I had something special and should continue with it.
What role does Twitter play in your career a a comedian?
Twitter allows me to expose my comedy to as many people as possible. It started really as just a way to draw people to my website which has a lot of entertainment value, including videos, and my blog, but now its taken on a life of its own and many people just like to enjoy and have a good laugh at my past tweets.
I imagine comics have a natural use of Twitter, in that it’s perfect for funny, retweetable quips and things. How does that translate to more exposure for you?
Since it draws people to my website, it also generates work as people have been contacting me to do shows. I never thought that would happen, but there it is.
What impact or change have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?
More people become aware of you so the next time you’re on TV, or come to town, there’s more potential people to come to shows.
Comics often get hecklers onstage; do you ever get hecklers on social media?
Because my jokes are relatively non-offensive, I don’t usually get heckled on stage, and the same seems to be true for Twitter. Of course, there’s always a few that may take exception, but with over 75,000 followers, its impossible not to annoy somebody.
83,000 people following you- holy cow! Who are all of these people? How did you build your following? What kinds of people/businesses are they?
It’s just sort of grown organically (I hate when people use that word, ‘organic’, and yet here I am…). I do put in some work to follow people, but I only do so with people that recommend me. If it wasn’t for those people, I wouldn’t have nearly so many followers. The people that I follow / follow me come from all walks of life. I don’t discriminate.
What strategies did you use for social marketing (either online or offline)?
To promote my comedy writing and shows, I use my website, Facebook, Twitter, of course – but I also make a few TV appearances a year to promote a big show or event that I’m doing.
What worked for you?
TV is always great for exposure, and it’s at the point now where I’ll mention the number of Twitter followers on TV because that in itself is starting to attract attention. My next appearance on TV will be on the 17th of June on OMNI tv. Its to promote my show on June 22nd but I’ll be mentioning my Twitter followers then.
What didn’t work for you?
Everything helps. Some forms of media are more effective than others but I can’t think of anything that hurts you. I suppose the least effective way of promotion these days is to hand out business cards. Business cards are becoming like the old rotary phones, I suspect.
If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?
I would have started using social media right away. It’s only in the last five years that I’ve stepped it up, and I’ve only been on Twitter for just over a year. I’ve come to realize that its 20% talent and 80% marketing, so if you feel you have something to offer, you can’t just sit around and hope that people will come to you. I had to learn that lesson after a few hard years.
What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?
It gives me a public portfolio to showcase my writing and comedy without having a middleman.
What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?
Do it, do it, do it. Getting yourself out there for people to see what you have to offer is all positive, in my opinion. But like anything else, it requires hard work and dedication.
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