In case you haven’t noticed social media is a brand-builder, a humanizing powerful tool that not only gets you a seat at the table but also increases your profitability. Mix it with some offline activities and an incomparable work ethic and you get funny man Kevin Hart. And, if it’s one thing Kevin Hart does very well it’s using social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to consistently promote his brand and connect with his fans.
With over 40 million followers across social-media channels–Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Kevin Hart used his #Hustlehart work ethic to quickly climb the ranks in Hollywood and claim his spot on Forbes Top Earning Comedians in 2013. In 2014 alone, Ride Along, Think Like A Man Too, and About Last Night grossed a combined $272 million. And Hart, worth 14 million, according to Forbes, has appeared in several urban advertising campaigns for Ford.
So how did a stand up comic born and raised in Philadelphia, PA go from hustling as a shoe salesman and performing in the late 90’s under the name “Lil Kev the Bastard” to producing multi-platinum DVDs and landing major acting roles in Hollywood?
“The one thing that I’ve built up is my social media. My social media, I think I’m at like 7.5 million [followers on Twitter, Facebook, etc.] myself. That’s without the help of any radio station or anything. That’s just years of me over the years building and building and building and reaching out to my fans on the personal level. I’ve become my own biggest marketing tool. And then I put a bigger machine behind that with my publicist. So I’m getting the best of both worlds,” Hart stated during a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly.
While nearly all celebrities are using social media, what really makes Hart unique is that he also makes impromptu appearances at places frequented by his fans.
I will also be doing surprise pop ups at random movie theaters starting on thurs night thru sun. Help us make history this weekend
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) June 17, 2014
Let’s take a look at how he used his massive social-media presences to brand himself and his work .
In 2006, he released his first stand-up album; “I’m a Grown Little Man.” His 2011 tour, Laugh at My Pain (also the name of a subsequent documentary), grossed $15 million, making it one of the biggest tours of the year. His stand-up comedy feature “Laugh at My Pain” opened to $2 million on just 97 screens, a feat he largely credited to his social media fan base spreading word and supporting the film.
In 2012, “Think Like a Man” opened to a phenomenal $33.6 million. For “Think Like a Man,” Hart notes that, combined, the entire cast boasts well over 20 million Twitter followers. “So we got together and just did a blitz ourselves…When you’re doing movie promos and there’s billboards and stuff, yeah it’s out there, and you know people see it. But we were getting direct responses because of Twitter and Facebook. It was unbelievable,”he said during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
In 2013, Let Me Explain, which cost $2.5 million to produce and was financed by Hart, opened in theaters during the fourth of July weekend and pulled in an impressive $10 million. The film only debuted in 876 theaters, compared to The Lone Ranger‘s 3,904 locations.
Also in 2013, Hart’s launched his BET mock reality show Real Husbands of Hollywood – it became cable’s number-one sitcom among adults 18-to-49. Its finale in March snatched up 2.2 million viewers.
In 2014, CNN reported, ‘Ride Along’ dominates with $47.8 million, breaks January record. “Hart had 4.7 billion earned impressions online. Though the number was inflated because his two films were released around that time, he remains one of the leading celebs when it comes to number of Twitter followers. By comparison, Tyler Perry has only 3.5 million Twitter fans, while Ludacris and Dwayne Johnson have 9 million and 6.8 million, respectively.”