4 Things Your Company Can Learn from @ConanOBrien

by Allison Wood Conan O’Brien made his long awaited return to New York City this week on his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television” Tour. He performed for a crowd of nearly 6,000 people at Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Normally, people shouldn’t take advice from a business mogul who was forced to leave after 16 years in the industry. However, Conan O’Brien is an exception.

In fact, I would argue that companies and organizations should mimic Conan’s tactics in order to be successful. Specifically, there are four things that Conan O’Brien has done well that would benefit your organization:

1. Get creative when overcoming obstacles. It is inevitable that an organization will be faced with challenges at some point. However, companies should be creative when overcoming these obstacles. The title of Conan’s tour explains it all. Since Conan was legally prohibited from being on television and radio, he turned to social media to connect with his fans. Due to his strong followings on Facebook and Twitter, Conan decided the best solution was to go on tour. This allowed him to share his story, entertain his audience, and even promote his new show. This type of creativity allowed him to feasibly solve the problem of being unable to perform on TV and radio. Organizations should also act creatively when trying to find a solution to a problem they are faced with. Creative solutions will generate buzz and get people talking about your organization.

2. Provide engaging and relevant content. Organizations should not just deliver content about themselves. They should also include content that is relevant to their industry and interesting to their audience. Conan used this strategy in his show on Tuesday night by including surprise appearances from Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, John Kransinski, Paul Rudd, and Bill Hader. While I would have gladly forked over $75 to watch Conan perform solely, these appearances provided an added value to my experience that made it unforgettable. Organizations should not simply provide information that is all about them. They should include relevant information about their industry along with information that engages their audience and allows for interaction.


3. Listen to what your customers have to say. Organizations should give their audience a voice. Customers can provide reliable, candid feedback that could benefit your organization. Businesses should even go a step further and organize this feedback they receive from customers. Conan achieved this by instructing his audience members to include the hashtag #triumph when tweeting during the event. This allowed Conan and his team to organize what was being said about the show in one simple search. It also allowed his fans to connect and read what other audience members were saying. Organizations should also listen to what their customers have to say. Social media allows customers to have a voice and organizations should be listening to what they have to say. By understanding what your audience wants, you will be able to deliver more meaningful material to them.

Conan thanking fans4. Thank your customers. Just as Conan wouldn’t be successful without his fans, your organization wouldn’t be successful without customers. Therefore, it is important to thank your customers for supporting your business. Customers don’t want to feel like “just a number” and need to be recognized individually. After the show, Conan’s fans stood outside Radio City waiting for a glimpse of him as he walked to his car. We were pleasantly surprised when he walked around the entire crowd and personally shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for coming. It is very rare that a CEO of an organization gets the opportunity to have face time with customers. However, social media can help bridge this gap. CEO’s should personally respond to comments on Facebook and reply to tweets thanking their customers for supporting their brands. This type of personalized acknowledgment makes the audience feel rewarded and valued by the organization.

Do you think that Conan O'Brien's methods are successful? What other suggestions do you have?

If you didn't get a chance to catch Conan at Radio City Music Hall, here's a clip of what you missed: