When I spoke to Genevieve Aniello, she’d just been in a soul-sucking three-hour call with Bank of America during which she was transferred roughly nine times. Naturally, she documented her struggle in meme form.
This is the kind of engagement Aniello does on a daily basis, though hopefully with less personal strife. Since late 2014, she’s handled social media for the Comedy Central’s Broad City. That encompasses Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr, all platforms where the show’s following has grown organically over the last year. But Aniello—the younger sister of Broad City director and writer Lucia Aniello—says numbers aren’t as important as how engagement has increased.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the stars and creators of Broad City, both of whom had previously worked SEO jobs, collaborate closely with Aniello to ensure message and voice. That includes harnessing the power of relatable hashtags: #weekendvibes, #mcm, #wcw.
Last year, #yasqueen, which Aniello says was a catchphrase around the writer’s room first, became part of the show’s branding, a hashtaggable term of encouragement and camaraderie. That carried over to support for season 3 guest Hillary Clinton.
While Jacobson and Glazer aren’t personally addressing fans on social, there’s a tone to Broad City‘s Twitter that followers are familiar with. People feel like they’re friends with Abbi and Ilana, or share similar views, especially after the account declared public support for Planned Parenthood in December.
Instagram is one of the show’s lodestars. In the debut episode of season 3, which premieres Wednesday, Abbi introduces Ilana to an artist friend, who claims she recognizes her from Abbi’s Instagram.
“That means so much to me, thank you,” Ilana earnestly responds.
Aniello says she typically opens up comments when she posts something to Instagram, which allows fans to tag their friends. It’s a subtle way of saying what many women (and men) have said about Abbi and Ilana: Hey, their friendship is just like ours.
“[It’s exciting] being able to see how fans relate not just to the show but to each other,” Aniello said. “It’s representing this ride-or-die friendship that people can relate to, girls or guys. It’s not just females who are engaging on our social media.”
Fan art is also a big part of the Broad City social strategy; different pieces are featured on the show’s Instagram as part of #fanartfriday, which spotlights an array of artists and illustrators. That extended to an IRL art space in early February, when fans were asked to help with a Broad City mural.
O0o0 we're halfway there 😏😝🎵. If u haven't stopped by we're still painting at n11th & wythe. pic.twitter.com/Zy7nlO1zok— Broad City (@broadcity) February 6, 2016
Anja Venter, a South African artist who’s been featured on #fanartfriday, drew her portrait as part of a daily Instagram project for her “best buds” series.
“I guess I relate to Abbi and Ilana, as both a creative and a feminist,” she said. “I’ve been following their webseries since the early days, and it’s been excellent to see this scrappy duo get their weird brain baby onto network television. And all by their own rules. It’s an ethos that’s been really meaningful to myself and a bunch of my creative friends in Cape Town. If I could, I would give them a really powerful running high-five for being who they are.”
In a 2015 interview with the Daily Dot, Glazer explained that they’re “trying to make the world of Broad City the real world.” Last year, Comedy Central released the keyboard app so fans could text dank memes 24-7. Aniello also helped create the Body by Trey and Al Dente Dentist websites as real extensions of its fictional world.
It’s hard to think of a comedy that’s had as much success integrating those two worlds as organically. Angie Tribeca has done wonders with social media and branding its satirical tone, but it’s not as personal. The Big Bang Theory‘s Facebook engagement is impressive, but it’s also been on a bazillion years.
But Broad City social is always on, even when the show’s off the air. After talking about her Bank of America ordeal and how she dealt with it in memes, Aniello reassures me of something essential: “I love the Internet very much,” she said. “I think it might be my best friend.”
Photo via Comedy Central