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Conan O'Brien: King of Social Media

The Influence Project

When Conan O'Brien hits stage this November, he won't be string-dancing to an empty audience. Since leaving NBC, the funnyman has amassed an army of followers under the banner of Team Coco, a band of loyal fans that has grown thanks to O'Brien's innovative use of social media. Using almost every online tool available, from Facebook to Twitter, YouTube to Foursquare, the late night host shows that social media is a force to be reckoned with. Case in point: Conan has more than 1.7 million followers on Twitter. His arch nemesis Jay Leno? A paltry 89,689.

Here's how Conan has dominated in the digital age.

The source of all things Conan features daily blog posts, a vibrant comment system, show tickets, and gear: a hub of Team Coco activity that also provides a home for his various social media accounts.

So when Conan finally revealed his show's print ad (seen above), he first unveiled it on, which has become a viral powerhouse.

Flickr, Foursquare, and the Conan Blimp

To promote the show, TBS will be flying a enormous, bright orange blimp around the U.S. for the entire month of October. Rather than just hover above baseball stadiums, Team Coco has hooked up the craft to GPS, enabling fans to follow it in real-time on Google Maps, check out a live cam on the blimp, and check out high-res images of it on Flickr.

And that's not to mention Team Coco on Foursquare. Now, you can check into the Conan Blimp to earn a Conan BlimpSpotter Badge.

And promoted it in a series of commercials, re-purposed for YouTube:

Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter

Conan is a monster on Twitter, with more than 1.7 million followers, and hundreds of thousands of fans following him on Facebook and Tumblr. Conan's tweets are some of the funniest on the Web, and when he announced his deal with TBS, his Twitter was one of the first places fans found the news, where he tweeted, among other things, "In three months I've gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theater, and now I'm headed to basic cable ... My plan is working perfectly."

Conan Tweet


Conan has taken to the world's most popular video sharing site to spread his brand. Team Coco has garnered close to 4 million views, with many videos getting hundreds of thousands of hits within days or weeks. What makes his YouTube streams so popular? Outside Conan's inherent hilarity, the videos make for good watching because Team Coco hasn't hesitated to make announcements through the channel. For example, Conan used YouTube to announce whether Andy Richter would be joining his new show. He even announced his show's name on YouTube:

Best of all, Conan has taken cues from other social media magnets—namely, the Old Spice guy—and used these various outlets to connect with fans one-on-one. Most recently, he's been using YouTube to respond to questions that fans post on his Facebook account.

With all this social media love, we hope Conan's show this November turns out just as delicious as this sandwich:

Add New Comment


  • Holly Ward

    I think in this market, you HAVE to take chances to really succeed. Conan's putting a wager on cable television being a lucrative format in the future, especially with a growing audience that is Internet-based. Instead of taking a chance, NBC fell back on their low-risk option which has proved himself in the past, but doesn't really have anything new to offer.

    I wager to say Conan will come out on top, even if the ratings don't prove it. (Cable ratings are naturally lower) His ability to adapt to technological changes and the preferred entertainment mediums of a younger generation will attract a profitable type of viewer. TBS' seemingly unwavering support will surely help his success level as well. I've never seen a network sell a new star as much as TBS has done with Conan.

    On a side note, Aaron Bleyaert (his "net guy") has also done a brilliant job building up the viral marketing for CONAN.

  • Geri Stengel

    And the lesson to be learned? Synergy!

    Social media works best when it is part of a well-coordinated plan. That's true for O'Brien and it's true for businesses and nonprofits. A <ahref="http: "="" default="" files="" nonprofits-and-social-media-it-aint-optional_0.pdf="" sites=""""> survey just completed by Ventureneer found that those who used social media often and regularly not only had better results but created synergy with other online campaigns.


  • Jason McElroy

    Conan's about trying new things. Jay's about clinging to the same tired old crap. Conan's about taking chances comedically. Jay's about clinging to the same tired old crap. Conan wants to build something. Jay wants to not have something taken away from him.

    Conan wins.