Can you get Patton Oswalt to Tweet this? Can you Instagram this article about me? Can you send out the link to our Kickstarter? No. It doesn’t work.
I’m not even sure advertising works. The only thing that makes people buy stuff is when they hear about it from their friends. I’m good buddies with the guy who wrote this graphic novel about Bruce Lee and he asked me to promote it. I love the guy but how does me Tweeting his book help sales? I’d guess out of the 30k followers I have, ONE at the very most would buy this book based on a Tweet. I’m not a mainstream comics dude. I’ve never Tweeted about anything remotely Bruce Lee and I had absolutely nothing to do with this. How does it help for me to tell tens of thousands of people that a guy I know did a thing?
Now, if you’re a comedian and you’re announcing tour dates or you’re a writer who just put a book out, by all means, let the people know. Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time.
There’s this myth now that you need a social media push to get your product out there. The whole reason Instagram and Twitter and Facebook are popular is they are immune to advertorials. Every brand in the country has a Twitter account and the only person who follows them is Neil Hamburger. There is no magic push. When The Brotherhood of the Traveling Rants came out the guys who bought it kept nagging me to get my comedian friends to Tweet it. Famous people already get this ten times a day from their cousins and in-laws and they are fucking sick of it. All asking them does is make me as annoying as their relatives. When I brought this up with the distributors they said, “It’s just a Tweet.” That’s what I’M screaming!
Publishers are the same. Every time you do a book, they make you scrape up testimonials from celebrities. They even make celebrities do it. Sarah Silverman was told to fill the back page with all her friends’ quotes so she just made up a bunch and stuck her name on each one. When was the last time you bought a book because Nick Swardson pretended he read it?
On the weekend, my neighbor was featured in the Daily News for his awesome baking skills. He took a picture of the article and asked me if I could Instagram it. Why? What’s the end game here? People see that I’m pals with a pastry chef so they go to the hotel he works at and order a cupcake? I’m not even sure that would work for Justin Bieber.
Someone at the top decreed Tweets and ‘Grams and “going viral” is the wave of the future and now every brand on earth wants you to make them a viral comedy video. They don’t get that the bar has been raised and “funny” today means you have to surpass Borat completely nude in a 69 fight with his assistant. Anything less than that comes across as Christian rock. You can’t just buy a nice, clean, viral comedy video that doesn’t offend anybody and even if you could, it would not affect sales. The publishers of my last book insisted on the title How to Piss in Public because I had made a viral video of the same name. I’m guessing about seven people made the connection. It seems you can’t do anything anymore without social media being a huge, irrelevant component.
I did an interview with some guys who were making a documentary about the punk DIY mentality. They were thrilled at the idea of me Tweeting their fund-raising campaign. I’d bet you $1,000 that Tweet didn’t raise one dime.
Today I got a message from this guy. He wants me to promote his film because our mutual friend Penny Rimbaud is in it.
Again, I love this guy and admire his work and I don’t really have a problem with doing any of this. My point is, it doesn’t work. Social media is a young man’s game and the kids today are over being marketed to. You can beg and scrounge for Tweets and resent people for not helping you out but the only thing that matters is your mouse trap. Build a better one and you won’t need social media to tell people where it is.