Ever wish you could magically create a large and growing social media audience? Even if what you’re promoting is more mundane than magical, you can improve your results with a little social media magic as demonstrated by top magicians Penn and Teller, and Jeff McBride.
Audience Multiplying Magic
Penn & Teller are two of the best known magicians in the world. They’ve got an Emmy-winning TV show, a show that sells out five nights a week in Las Vegas, and millions of social media followers.
If you have questions about how they do it, just ask them. It’s easy to meet and chat with them. If you go to see their show at the Rio (which is a must-see for a trip to Las Vegas) just hang around afterwards. Can’t get a ticket? Just show up at the Rio Hotel around 11 p.m. any night except Thursday and Friday. After every show, you’ll find Penn and Teller in the theater lobby signing autographs, chatting with fans, answering questions, and posing for pictures until every person in the crowd is satisfied.
That’s smart marketing — because they know that every one of those photos is going to show up on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or some other social site. But the savvy duo of magicians take things a bit further than just signing autographs at the end of their show. They borrow an iPhone from an audience member during the show in a new routine that guarantees that at least one video of the show makes it online every single day.
Think about the possibility of taking something you do every day, and turning it into a perpetual promotion machine for your business. That’s what Penn and Teller have done with the opening trick of their Las Vegas Show. It’s called Cell Fish.
They borrow a phone from someone in the audience, and use it as a video source and prop for the trick — and the phone’s owner can then look at the video on their phone and see how the trick is done. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of YouTube videos from audience members who have uploaded videos taken during Cell Fish routines in Penn and Teller’s show at the Rio. Tens of thousands of people have seen those videos — maybe millions of people have seen them.
Penn already has a huge social media audience, with over 1.3 million Twitter followers. And it’s a sure fire bet that he could have uploaded a slick, professionally produced video of this trick that would have been better than most of the videos on YouTube. But how many more people will see something uploaded five nights a week for a year or more, by a different person every night? Compare that with the strategy of most performers, who forbid all photography during their shows. Who gets the bigger long-term bump in audience? The magician who bans photography, and holds on so tightly to his rights, or the duo who make sure that at least one audience video is uploaded to the web every single night?
Penn and Teller turn everyone in the audience into social ambassadors who do far more than check in on Foursquare when they first arrive at the theatre. And they do it with the most powerful magic of all: personal charisma, friendliness, and making their audience feel important.
Locked Room Magic
Jeff McBride is one of the best living magicians — and he and his wife Abby have to be one of the nicest couples in show business, too. Jeff has been helping magicians from all over the world polish their craft for almost 20 years. Jeff McBride’s Magic and Mystery School is known around the globe as the place where magicians can go to get their acts stage ready. It’s more than just another “master class”, although the teaching and coaching is superb. Mystery School is more like a peer support group or magical fraternity that follows each of them for years after that first class.
The trouble was, that with the demanding travel schedule that Jeff and the other faculty members have, and the cost of travelling to Las Vegas for classes, only a handful of magicians could get the chance to attend Magic and Mystery School every year. So in 2007 Jeff and Eugene Burger created several online resources for aspiring magicians.
One of the things about Jeff’s approach to online learning is that he doesn’t expose the secrets of tricks online. So people who love magic, but like the wonder that comes with not knowing how the trick is done, can join in the shows and discussions without learning how the tricks are done.
For the amateur and professional magicians, Jeff McBride has something called The Locked Room where the secrets are revealed while McBride Magic TV offers a weekly fix of the best magic around — without learning all the details.
Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride also publish essays, an email newsletter, and maintain an online database that reviews products and services for amateur and professional magicians. Last, but hardly least, both of the renowned magicians answer questions submitted by amateur or professional magicians via email. For free. Anytime.
It’s just one of the ways that Jeff and Eugene use that most powerful of social media tools: plain old-fashioned kindness. If you attend one of their classes or workshops, you’ll leave with their cell phone numbers. And once you’ve met them, you can walk up to them at a show, conference, or event anywhere in the world and be greeted with a hug and a hearty, “Nice to see you again!”
Jeff McBride makes every fan, every customer, every person he’s ever met feel special – and it’s a big reason that his Facebook page, Twitter feed, and monthly newsletter are opened, read, and commented on as soon as they’re published.
Where’s Your Magic?
You don’t need to be a world-class magician like Penn and Teller, Jeff McBride, or Eugene Burger to make social media magic. You just need to remember a few things.
- It isn’t always about you. Be nice to people — and let them know you’re interested in them. Listen, and respond to your audience.
- Don’t put a price tag on everything you do. People will spend more money over a long period of time if they don’t feel you’re hitting them up for money or making them fill out a sign-up form every time they get a bit of valuable information.
- Make it easy for them to find you. Consistent timing matters —Jeff McBride can be found online at 7 p.m. PST every Monday. So fans never have to try to remember a date. Emails, newsletters, and new Facebook posts are posted at consistent times, and no matter how busy Jeff is, he doesn’t miss his “publication” dates.
- Communicate in all of the places where your audience congregates. You can sign up for email, newsletters, and follow Penn and Teller on Twitter, Facebook, paid and premium cable TV, and the web. And, of course, you can show up five nights a week at the Rio just to say hi in person. No single communications channel (not even an Emmy-winning TV show) is enough anymore.
- Give your audience a reason to smile. Penn and Teller, Jeff McBride, and George Takei have mastered the art of being edgy without crossing the line into being offensive. All take on sensitive topics like religion, mythology, and politics, yet they all do it with a deft hand that pokes fun at themselves, and never at their audience. So even when you disagree with them, you smile and come back for more.