Social media and Bob Dylan’s bed

An interview with Dan Davis, Digital Producer of ClickHole

If The Onion is where you get your fake news, then ClickHole, part of The Onion Group, is where you get your fake BuzzFeed. Their articles all sound innocent enough (Get Healthy with the ClickHole Eating Challenge!) but they quickly descend into an ironic hole of internet humor. It kind of takes the funny out of something when you write about how funny it is, but trust me.

More from the ClickHole Clean Eating Challenge

Social media is integral to how we share content online, no matter how silly it is. Online traffic is largely influenced by how websites run their social media. ClickHole, even if it’s not out to publish hard hitting news, employs social media strategies to share their content. I recently spoke with Dan Davis, Digital Producer of ClickHole, about what his job really means. I wanted to know how a humor website tackled social media and how it might differ, say, from the social media strategy of The New York Times.

Daviss background is in marketing and comedy. He majored in marketing at the University of Illinois — Chicago and graduated in 2013. He interned as an intern at The Onion in his senior year and was hired once he graduated. He also “enjoy[s] writing jokes and performing” and does some stand up.

Digital Producer sounds quite fancy; according to Davis, the work mainly revolves around “building and posting our articles and videos to our website and then promoting them digitally across various channels online.” He also picks which articles are posted to the homepage and where articles will appear throughout the site. The articles that “perform” the best will get the star treatment on the homepage. Additionally, Davis also contributes to editorial, and even pitches some jokes.

The man’s humble, though. He says he “just enjoy[s] helping out when [he] can.” Adorable.

Is social media important? Without a doubt. “Almost all of our traffic comes from social media promotion,” Davis says, but it’s the most fun when it’s interactive. Facebook, where they get the most traffic, has a “pretty interesting community of commenters,” that interact with content every day. The strategy here, though, is what Davis calls “one and done”: they’ll post new articles daily, but never the same article twice. “We believe that additional posts of the same article/URL on our page on the same day will decrease reach and effectiveness for driving traffic,” Davis explains.

Twitter, on the other hand, gives Davis a little more room to play, and here he and his team post without restrictions. They will sometimes go with the “classic” link + headline + photo combination, but they like to experiment with other ways to promote articles. They might “tease” the article by cropping a visual slightly to invoke the element of surprise by not revealing the joke entirely. Another approach is to tweet the article link and then, in a reply, tweet a joke from the article. Davis likes this technique because it “really helps with engagement and driving traffic and promoting single jokes from a list or article, with context coming from that tweet appearing next to another tweet that includes the headline.”

Even though Davis admits their Instagram is the least useful platform in terms of traffic, it’s also his favorite place to post . Besides the daily They Said WHAT!? post, the content posted varies from exclusive content, to graphics used on the website alongside article, to videos.

However, if ClickHole is “off the wall”, then its social media strategy should follow suit. They like to have fun with their work. ClickHole is different even from it’s mother company, The Onion, in how it utilizes social media to interact with their consumers and post social media exclusive content, or “jokes that live only on social media and not the website.” Take, for instance, the sleepover on the Facebook page or their successful gofundme campagin to buy Bob Dylan a bed. Davis confirms they really sent the bed to Columbia Records.

“I think our social media presence is true community management versus what a lot of publications do, which is post an article but not really engage with fans in a conversation about it,” Davis says.

If you don’t know ClickHole already, here are some of Dan’s favorite articles: