How do SA’s stand-up comics use Facebook?

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Our first look at the biggest local Facebook pages created such a stir we decided to dig deeper into the different ways South Africans are using Facebook to market themselves and their brands. In theory comedians are a natural fit for the Facebook platform – they’re public figures and personal brands rolled into one, and people feel very strongly about them (either way).

But how are local comedians making the most of the 3-million local Facebook users? After quite a bit of snooping around, I managed to find these ten examples showcasing the various ways South African comedians are taking advantage of this innovative platform.

Methodology

How did I select the list? At the moment this is a distinctly unscientific process, using three main information sources:
1. My own social network connections (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FleshWare AKA real life people)
2. Facebook’s (frustratingly limited) search function
3. Google + intuition (AKA guess work) = leads to try out on Facebook’s search

So, there’s an obvious disclaimer with this list, as there was with the first one: I may have missed a very large Facebook page for a very famous comedian. If so, let us know in the comments below and we’ll amend the list and credit you.

The list

1. Trevor Noah (233K+ fans)
At just 26 he’s only been in the stand up game for a couple of years, but this softly spoken Joburger is already a master of dry irony and understatement, and has a gift for funny accents. As a result he’s headlined at several comedy festivals, and been on TV quite a bit (not least as Cell C’s new “CEO”). That said, I’m still very surprised by the sheer scale of his fan base on Facebook. And suspicious. A lot of his fans look, well, fake. Stay tuned while we investigate. Trevor’s page is fairly standard, and seems to have really been adopted by his fans as a way of making contact with one of their comic heroes.

2. David Kau (12,500+ fans)
One of SA’s comedy stalwarts, Kau has been busting his ass on the circuit for over a decade, so his fan numbers look more realistic than Trevor’s. He updates the page himself, and uses a nice, informal style to communicate with his fans, but sadly he uses it almost exclusively for marketing his shows. How about a few jokes, Dave?

3. Riaad Moosa (2,400+ fans)
This clean-cut Cape Town local has made an art out of family-friendly humour. His fan base is far smaller than Trevor or David’s but is growing quite rapidly. It helps that he updates it himself, with original and topical jokes. He also makes good use of Facebook’s video feature – something neither of his bigger rivals do.

4. Ndumiso Lindi AKA The Roosta (1,800+ fans)
This brash young comedian is building a following from the grass roots up. His self-updated page is a mix of marketing and amusing observations on his daily life. His fans seem to love him – his response rate is very high for a page of this size.

5. Deep Fried Man (aka Daniel Fried) (1,350+ fans)
While not technically a standup comedian, Daniel’s humorous songs have won him loyal fans around the country (not to mention the interwebs). He makes the most of his Facebook audience, updating frequently with songs, events, jokes, and photos. A great example of how to use Facebook.

6. Barry Hilton (1,300+ fans)
A surprisingly small fan page for one of SA’s most recognisable (and well loved) comedians. You might think Barry’s audience is too old for Facebook, but there are half a million South Africans on Facebook who are 40 or older. He updates the page himself, in true “cousin style”, but only does so a couple of times a week at most. Started in February, this page still seems like an experiment rather than a serious marketing channel for the big man.

7. Kurt Schoonrad (1,250+)
This hard working Cape comedian has been hitting the circuit for over a decade, so I’m surprised he hasn’t accumulated more fans. That said, the page seems to be strictly a marketing tool – announcements about when and where Kurt’s next show is. Throw us a few jokes, Kurt, and get involved – it will swell those numbers.

8. David Newton (1,200+ fans)
A rising star on the comedy scene, David performs all over the country and is starting to get international gigs. His self-updated page is a nice blend of jokes, marketing and friendly chatter. David also makes good use of videos and photos. What he should watch for is fake fans using his page to post spam links. This kind of thing can totally ruin a Facebook experience.

9. Joey Rasdien (980+ fans)
Joey has toured the country, been on TV and in movies, so I’m surprised this loveable bumbler doesn’t have a lot more fans. His updates are funny and full of character, but are sometimes a bit low on info, like where his next show is happening, for example. He could also make better use of photos, videos and events to present a fuller picture of his life and work.

10. Rabin Harduth (810+ fans)
Rabin is both a comedian and a booking agent, so a lot of the airtime on his page is taken up by promotions for other people’s shows. That’s a pity because we’d like to hear more from the funny man himself. People come to your Facebook page to find out more about

Conclusions?
Clearly updating your page frequently, updating it yourself and adding multimedia all help grow your page. But I would have thought the single biggest driver in getting numbers would be appearing on TV. Yet if that worked for Trevor, why not Barry or Joey? What works best is to use the full multi-media functionality of Facebook, such as video, photos and links to give a full picture. Your presence on Facebook should be an extension of what you do on stage.

Remain entirely calm
Now, kids, before you get all in a rage because your favourite comic isn’t here, remember this particular list is all about numbers of fans on Facebook. I’m not saying these are necessarily the ten best comedians in the country (though I would argue there is quite a bit of overlap). I just wanted to look at how each of them use the social networking giant.

One thing this research has taught me is how many great comedians we have in SA. It’s also proved to me that, in general, local comedians like Twitter better than Facebook. I smell another list on the horizon…

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