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Social Media Lessons From Bill Cosby

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Bill Cosby has taught us about a lot of things over the years, like parenting skills, how to pick out snazzy sweaters -- and now, how to succeed at social media.

Cosby held a "virtual town hall" on Oct. 19 to discuss issues that face the African-American community and support his latest album, "Bill Cosby Presents the Cosnarati: State of Emergency." It features rappers Jace the Great, Brother Hahz and Super Nova Slom.
 
Since then, Cosby has taken social media by storm. The event, held at Ustream, generated 1.3 million views, placing behind only President Obama's inaugural address and a chat with the Jonas Brothers. Cosby has 644,654 Twitter followers and 25,569 fans on Facebook (which offers a "Dress Like the Cos" app). Following the event, visits to BillCosby.com increased by 1,400 percent.
 
Within the two days that followed the town hall, there were 47,448 plays on the "State of Emergency" streaming player. The digital MP3 promoting the album was viewed by 50,727. On Nov. 10, the album download was made available on Amazon for a special price of $1.99. It peaked at No. 7 among all Amazon MP3 downloads sold. It is now $7.99 at Amazon and will debut at other retailers on Nov. 24.
 
Lynne Johnson, svp, social media at the Advertising Research Foundation, was not surprised that Cosby soared from social media neophyte to star in a matter of days. "People are fascinated with celebrities," she said. "What marketers can learn is that if they have the right story to tell and the right celebrity, it can go a long way in social media. Putting celebrities with social media and a brand [or in this case, record launch] seems to be a successful formula."
 
Others are catching on. Yesterday, for example, Nikon unveiled its latest ad campaign via a Tweet from Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher, a Twitterati as well as a movie and TV star, is also the brand's spokesperson.
 
Now that Cosby has gained critical mass in the digital world, he plans on putting it to good use. He is asking people to visit BillCosboy.com to host and sign up for "listening parties." His hope is that people will get together, listen to the CD and talk about some of the topics, which include abuse, self-respect and peer pressure.
 
Party hosts receive a CD, album lyrics, a list of talking points and the companion book Come on People: On the Path From Victims to Victors, which was co-authored by Cosby. He will be calling in to welcome people to listening parties on Dec. 12 and 13.
 
"Our children are trying to tell us something, but we are not listening," Cosby said in a statement.

See also: "Bill Cosby Unites Rappers for 'Emergency' Album"