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Using Social Media the Funny or Die Way

Online companies have heard the common wisdom about how to use social media to build a brand, but one of the most talked-about online video companies has its own way of doing things. Funny or Die, known for putting A-list celebs in hilarious short videos, took a slower and more considered approach to social media.

"We started off with a walled garden approach," said Patrick Starzan, vice president of marketing and business development for Funny or Die, in a Streaming Media West red carpet interview. "We just wanted people coming back to Funny or Die."

The site built its own video player with its own branding. While it allowed other sites to embed its videos, the player branding let viewers know where to find more content. Plus, Funny or Die improved its search engine rankings by using its own player.

The Funny or Die team saw the value of Facebook and Twitter early on, building up a social media audience on both. They also created a blogger outreach program, breaking blogs into categories such as celebrity, comedy, politics, and sports, then feeding them appropriate videos for embedding.

Only in the last year-and-a-half has Funny or Die created its own YouTube channel, something that most content creators do early on. The reason is that it wanted to build up its own brand first. It doesn't automatically dump all its videos into the YouTube channel: the Funny or Die site gets new content for two weeks exclusively. Once videos get to be five or six months old, they're taking off the YouTube channel so that the channel doesn't compete for search engine traffic. Funny or Die also doesn't allow embedding from its YouTube site, so that only its branded player is used for embedding.

Funny or Die is at work on a mobile strategy: it has iPhone and iPad apps available and is working on an Android app. Because of limited resources, it hasn't reached into connected TVs yet.

The challenge for Funny or Die now is growth. Despite its efforts, its finding that many people outside of major cities still haven't heard of it.

"I do think organic growth can only take you so far. There is an earned component or a paid component that has to bring you to that next level," says Starzan.

For that reason, its now looking into cost-effective marketing tools, such as Google AdWords, increased Facebook marketing, and ad purchases on strategic sites.

To see the entire interview and hear about how Funny or Die is creating branded entertainment, watch the video below.

These Streaming Media Red Carpet Interviews are sponsored by Front Porch Digital.

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